It was with a happy sigh of relief that we dropped our freshly cleaned Berlingo at the Rome airport depot. Goodbye heart stopping motor-way moments and stunt driver tom foolery! The lease company ordered a car to take us into town. Far too small a car. The guy could see there were four of us, as well as four hefty suitcases and four back packs. I’m not sure how on earth he thought he could fit all of that into a Mercedes sedan. He, along with the feisty female driver, pushed, stamped and tugged until in fact we did all fit – even if Cam was nursing a giant suitcase and the girls were sitting on another!
Whether you like Rome or not, there’s one word that surely comes to mind to all visitors. BIG. Pure and simple. Everything is BIG. Big buildings, big monuments, big crowds, big prices, big problems.
Everything is big…apart from our teeny tiny apartment, carved by an ex boat-builder who wanted his place to look like it did in his sea-faring days. Little porthole windows, wooden balustrades and a weeny galley kitchen. Lucky we kept our Spritz with orange intake up to prevent scurvy! Best bit was the location – just around the corner from the Campo de Fiori, one of Rome’s daily fruit and veg (and now cheap Made in China souvenirs) markets.
The sites of Rome are known world wide. You don’t have much of a chance to “discover” things as much as in smaller places, because there’s so much you already know. So, not much historical introductions to these places. We’ll just tick off the sites from the site list and show some pics to prove we’ve been there…
The Trevi Fountain
Whattaya know? It’s big! Much bigger than you’d expect, and jammed at an intersection of streets you wouldn’t expect. Luckily it had been raining when we wandered out, so the crowds weren’t too dire. There WERE still annoying guys offering to take group photos for cash, and the obligatory Indian splatty-pig and throwing-up-in-the-air-and-glowing thing sellers. After two months of being harassed by these guys in every bigger town in Italy, I just wanted to yell (and did later that week) “WE DON’T WANT TO BUY YOUR STUFF!” We all threw a coin over our shoulder to ensure our return to Roma…it’s worked for me! A tip too if the Fountain is too busy, sneak up into the children’s wear section of Benetton across the road and take a peak out of the window there…the best view, and not a splatty-pig in sight!
The Roman Forum
It’s interesting to look at the flick books sold around Rome of how historians believe Rome once looked. Grand and bold with monuments to Rome’s gods and great men (or both) lining the streets. For a venue that was once “the most celebrated meeting place in all the world” (2nd only to Erina Fair), it’s sad to see it now a sprawling mess of rocks, crumbled columns and excavations.
Half of our day was spent cowering undercover while Rome was bombarded with heavy downfall. My feet in my (opshop) Ferragamos, and Cams in his new Italian leather (on sale) boat shoes were squealchy and cold. So what a joy it was, as we stepped into the Colosseum, to see the skies turn to blue! We pulled up a 2000 year old pillar, and listened to tour guide Daddy ($30 less pp than the others) tell us all about the history of Rome’s most iconic building. A few quick facts: back in the day, the arena could hold 50-80,000 spectators; animal hunts, gladiatorial fights, executions and battle re-enactments (NOT mock sea battles) were held here, with over 9,000 animals being killed in one season alone. Rotten Romans! It was later used as housing, a church, a fortress and even a quarry. Avalon, a big Asterix fan, was a bit disappointed it wasn’t as shiny and new as it is in “Asterix the Gladiator”, or even as in as good condition as the Arena in Verona for that matter; but they were still happy to be there, and even happier to find “Asterix Gladiatore” – the Italian version – in the bookshop.
La Bocca della Verita
As we lined up to put our hands into the Mouth of Truth, I was amazed at how many tourists were just there doing it because it’s what they were led there to do. They asked “what’s this thing anyway?”, “I have to do WHAT?”, “When’s dinner?”. Hadn’t they heard of this before? (No) If not, hadn’t they seen “Roman Holiday”? (Again, no). Even our tiny children were more excited than them because they wanted to be Audrey Hepburn for a fleeting moment!
Cam’s sister, Tamsyn, and her boyfriend Adam happened to be in Rome that night. In Australia we don’t get time to see each other, with them way over the other side of the country in Perth. So, why not make a night of it! It was a great catch up!
More from Roma soon!