When in Rome, do as …….

With the madness of the Vatican out of the way, the rest of Rome or Roma, had a lot to live up to ! 

Paloma is still living it up on the excellent camping Tiber, a few hundred meters from Prima Porta station, which takes you directly into the centre of Rome.

It’s a Special weekend for one of ‘Team Our Leap Of Faith’ members and with no better place to spend Michele’s birthday than this stunning city! 

Our plan for the next two days was to hit some attractions, find somewhere nice for lunch and browse a few shops for that elusive present, as it’s just one thing you can’t do when your spending 24hours a day together and have no fixed address for an internet purchase….. so at least I can’t get the wrong present as she will be picking it ! 

But attractions first………

The Colosseum 

This is probably at the very top of the list when it comes to Rome’s must-see attractions. 

During most days, crowds flock here for the perfect selfie and a taste of what it must have been like to sit inside the ancient amphitheater during a gladiator fight and today was no expection, hordes of people everywhere ……

Rome colosseum Italy - crowds
It’s said that if you take a sharp right from the metro station and walk over to the ticket counter at the base of Palatine Hill. The line is always much shorter and you only need one ticket to access the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. – This was completely the opposite when we visited with the Colosseum line shorter, but announcements being made that they were limiting the numbers entering at any one time ! 

This iconic structure is enormous and has survived almost 2000 years of earthquakes, fires, riots, wars, plundering, pollution etc …….

Victor Emmanuel Monument

The colossal monument, which is 135 meters wide and 70 meters high, is comprised of scores of majestic Corinthian columns and endless stairs, all carved in white marble. The top is crowned with an equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel cast in bronze and two chariots driven by the goddess Victoria.

Victor Emmanuel Monument Rome
One of the greatest attractions of the Monument to Victor Emmanuel is the panoramic view over the city sky line.

Looking back at the city from Rome Victor Emmanuel Monument
Since 1921, the Victor Emmanuel Monument holds the tomb of the unknown soldier, a place in which the eternal flame shines and which is always guarded by two soldiers.

Tomb of unknown soldier- Victor Emmanuel Monument
The Pantheon 

This building is widely praised for its feats of architecture and concept of space. At 43m wide and 43m high, it is a perfect sphere resting in a cylinder. 

It’s also very easy to visit as it tends not to have a queue! 

The Pantheon Rome Italy

When wandering into the Pantheon,  the first instinct is to look upwards at the amazing Dome.

The oculus Rome
The oculus, the only source of natural light in the Pantheon, is the huge round opening in the centre of the dome. It is 27 feet in diameter and open to the elements. 
But now stop looking up , once you start to look around you, you are taken in by the opulence. Monumental tombs are set into the walls of Pantheon, including that of the artist Raphael

The Trevi Fountain 

The Trevi Fountain is the most famous of all the fountains in Rome attracting most first time visitors as a ‘must see’.!

As a result it can at times get very crowded !!

The Trevi Fountain in Rome by motorhome
The central figure of the fountain, in front of a large niche, is Neptune, god of the sea. He is riding a chariot in the shape of a shell, pulled by two sea horses. Each sea horse is guided by a Triton. One of the horses is calm and obedient, the other one restive. They symbolise the fluctuating moods of the sea.

 On the left hand side of Neptune is a statue representing Abundance, the statue on the right represents Salubrity. The water at the bottom of the fountain represents the sea.

  It is tradition to throw a coin into the fountain to ensure your return to Rome.

Piazza Navona

Standing in one of the largest and most beautiful piazza squares in Rome with three impressive fountains, including la Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi with its large obelisk at the centre and the baroque church of Sant’Agnese in Agone provides an impressive backdrop, 

Constructed in 1651 for the Pope is the most photographed item in the square. Bernini designed the fountain and it was paid for by taxes on staples like bread.

la Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi , Rome by motorhome
The centrepiece of the fountain is a tall Roman obelisk and surrounding it four figures can be seen, each representing the great rivers: Ganges, Nile, Danube and Rio de la Plata.
 The Popes coat of arms, a dove and and olive branch are found on the rock base of the fountain. The two other fountains, at the north and southern ends are smaller and also have stunning scupltures. The Fontana del Moro at the southern end of the piazza depicts a Moor fighting a dolphin – Bernini’s addition in the 17th century.

Spanish Steps 

The steps are at the eastern end of the old city centre. From the base there is a maze of very narrow lanes crammed full with designer shops waiting to be explored, or avoided …. if only ! 

The Spanish Steps are particularly popular with tourists as well as locals, they get very crowded. 

They are generally a place to congregate and relax, and as a meeting point. 

Spanish Steps full of touirsts
Historically they have always been a place for artists, painters and poets to visit, now these are replaced by looky looky men with selfie sticks for sale and hoards of Japanese touirst using them ! 

The stairway itself is of 138 steps, with spectacular views down from the top, at bottom of the Steps is the 17th century Fountain of the Old Boat, spouting water as she sinks. 

Fountain of the Old Boat, Rome by Motorhome
The story behind the ship is that the River Tiber often flooded before the city walls were built and in 1598 there was a particularly bad flooding and the Piazza di Spagna was flooded up to a meter. 

Once the water withdrew, a boat was left behind in the square.

Shopping 

With Some of the biggest names in Italian fashion, make that the world, Valentino, Bulgari—hail from Rome and you will find their flagship stores, as well as boutiques by Prada, Armani, Versace, Ferragamo, Cavalli, Gucci, and many others I feared the worst, but thankfully Michele has taken to travel lifestyle perfectly and was happy to come away with a small (ie Van sized) present from the Pandora store.

Michele after shopping in Pandora Rome
Lunch…..,

When you are in a different town, finding somewhere different to eat can be a hardship. This time we turned to the power of Trip Advisor, as the choice seemed almost endless. Spotting a place with over 3.5k excellent reviews we knew we had to check it out for ourselves……,

Pane e Salame is somewhat of a cross over between a sandwich bar and charcuterie house that serves excellent wine ……

After reading all the excellent reviews and looking longingly at the pictures of beautiful food, we just prayed we hadn’t built it up too much…..

As we arrived, there was a Rome insitution, a queue! – a great sign at at a restaurant!

We order the house special of mixed meat and cheese cutting board  for two (€20) and a bottle of fizz (€12)…..

Lunch ! - meat and Cheese cutting board
When it arrived the meat was littery falling off the the overladen board…….

The busy but very friendly waiting staff took the time to explain what each part of the board was and how it was local to region…..

Stuffed but unable to resist we order the chocolate cutting board for afterwards……

Chocolate cutting board....ummm
And on my must see list ……..What do elephants have to do with Rome?

The ancient Romans used them in the Punic Wars, supporting the campaigns of the growing empire.

Bernini’s elephant , Rome by motorhome
However, by Bernini’s time, elephants were decidedly less common in the Eternal City. In 1630, Bernini was probably in the crowd to see the first elephant to have visited Rome in more that 100 years.

Bernini had sketched elephants earlier and intended to create a statue to be displayed in the Barberini Gardens, shadowed by leafy trees.
However, when the friars of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva were digging a new foundation in 1665, they uncovered an obelisk.

The Pope commissioned Bernini to create a monument for the ancient Egyptian obelisk, and Bernini simply could not get the elephant out of his head.

What did we think of Rome ? 
We roamed about in Rome for 48hours and only saw a slice of what was on offer, this place is magical, ever corner we turned showed another unbelievable side to this eternal city, this is city break heaven, sure their are touts and tat sellers but really they add to its charm ! Just be warned we walked, walked and walked some more…….

Paul. 

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