Art / History / Italy / Religion / Rome / Travel

The Eternal City – Day One – Unfolding

Rome was amazing.  History and beauty practically hit you in the face every corner you turn.  My 2 hour and 10 minute flight with Alitalia set me back £166.  I avoided Ryanair because well it’s Ryanair.  As cheap as it appears on the surface unless you get really cheap seats the unavoidable additional costs (online booking fee for example ) sets its price point roughly where other airlines are.  Ryanair also flies out of the smaller airports and I was able to fly out of Heathrow.  For a 6 am flight it makes a difference.

Alitalia was comfortable, but it was also about 28 minutes late to depart.  Now that doesn’t seem like a lot of time but the knock on effect meant that I ended up missing my pre booked tour of the Vatican Museums.  I still rushed there in hopes of finding my group in transit.  I got up to the front entrance – passing a huge long line on the way, went through the queue for the groups (no one checked to make sure I should be there) and got through security in the span of 15-20 minutes or less.  I inquired at the ticket counter if there was a way to find my group and the man just put up his hands and said ‘I don’t know’.  I  decided that since I was there already and with the museums closing for the next two days it made sense to still buy a ticket to get in.  I know, you’re thinking but didn’t you already pay?  Yes I did, but there was a supplemental fee of €21 to get into the museum to be paid in country.  The price I paid I suppose was just for the actual tour guide.

Anyways, I got a ticket and went through the barriers.  Off to the side just past the barriers was an Italian woman addressing a group in english.  So I asked her if she was just starting and if I could join because I lost my tour.  She said ok but that I’d have to stay right beside her throughout in order to hear her.  Basically all the tour guides have a mic and the members of their group headsets because of the thick and noisy crowds.

The tour was great.  Unfortunately I don’t have my guide’s name or the name of the company she works for but I’ve discovered I have a minute of film on my camera with her in it.  So I’ll post on YouTube and see if anyone recognises her.  What made the tour great was that not only did she have the history spot on but she added quirky tales, made us laugh and overall had a great personality.  The museums themselves were overwhelmingly beautiful.  When we hit the Sistine Chapel I was ready to stealthily take pictures but I got in there and everyone and their mother was openly taking pictures.  I hesitated for a second then went for it.  So I got my shot of the Birth of Adam quite easily, mission accomplished.

Sphere within sphere

The Birth of Adam

The Last Judgement

After the tour I went back to my B&B and crashed for  a few hours.  I was tempted to stay in bed as I hadn’t slept since Thursday night but I pushed myself to take a night stroll and I was happy I did.  I was staying about a 10 minute walk from the Colosseum so I mostly wanted to suss out the exact location prior to touring it later on in my trip.  As I walked it revealed itself little by little until I was standing in full view and it was spectacular.  Night walks in Rome – huge recommendation as there weren’t hoards of people out.  I found a lot of the sites were better at night and that was true of the Colosseum because of the warm tones from the lights.

Colosseo

My plan after was to head to Trevi fountain then the Spanish steps but at 10 pm my stomach asked if I planned on eating anything that day.  I gave in as I knew that I was probably going to get up super early Sunday and attempt to attend mass.  So I stopped and ended up having the best meal of my trip.  It was Goat cheese stuffed Ravioli con Tartufo (white truffle sauce).  I took a picture but honestly, the sauce didn’t make the dish look appealing.  Judge for yourself below.

Ravioli con Tartufo

After fuelling up I continued to Trevi fountain.  On the way I passed a church and peered inside.  Of course I thought, midnight mass.  So I went in and sat at the back.  The church was stunning as were the voices of the choir.  It was close to the end of the service so I only caught about 10-15 minutes.  Looking at the time I decided to abandon the Spanish steps but continued on to the fountain.

I heard the fountain before I saw it so I knew that my map reading skills and sense of direction weren’t as shit as I thought they were.  When it came into full view I stood there mouth open for a few seconds.  I had seen pictures of the fountain before but they were always zoomed in and I never got a sense of scale.  This fountain is massive.  There was a small crowd including the usual hustlers at all the top sites but nothing major.  I snapped my pictures and tossed a coin in the fountain already sure in my mind that I would return to this city.

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