25th September 2012: An afternoon getting a feel for the city
Our hotel was the ‘San Anselmo‘ in the quiet residential area of the Aventine Hill just south of Circus Maximus. We wanted to make best use of the afternoon so took a stopping off along some wonderful reminders of Rome’s glorious history.
After a very enjoyable walk getting a feel for the streets and sights of Rome – we enjoyed a lovely romantic meal in a small restaurant to celebrate our honeymoon.
26th September 2012: St Peter’s Basilica to the Pantheon
A taxi dropped us off near St Peter’s Square and we made our way through the crowds to get to St Peter’s Basilica. The front area is protected by railings which was great since kept the crowds off the steps for better photos! We were only here to look around the Basilica itself (which is free entry) and we saved the Vatican for an early start tomorrow.
The inside of the Basilica is huge with beauty everywhere in the paintings, statues and reliefs everywhere. Michelangelo’s La Pieta was probably my favourite individual piece but the overall collection was incredible.
I wanted to travel up inside the huge dome to get a view over Rome. There stairway was very narrow and was actually between the inner and outer walls of the dome itself. The top did provide an amazing view although I didn’t realise the stairs down where in a different place to the stairs up so I lost Rach for a while having to travel all the way down to the ground floor and then back up to the insides of the dome again!
After we’d finished exploring St Peter’s Basilica, we left via the large colonnaded St Peter’s Square and followed the road straight, until we reached the Tiber river. To the left was the large round fortress like building of Castel Sant’Angelo but we crossed over the river via the bridge of the same name.
We explored some of the backstreets and meandered across the lively square of Piazza Navona with its fountains and many cafes and through to the architecturally splendid Pantheon. Built in around 120 AD, it is approaching 2,000 years old and its dome is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world (perhaps because no one ever since has been silly enough to not reinforce concrete?). The inside of the building is very impressive with autumn coloured hues of marble paving and statues underneath the great dome.
We found a cosy restaurant to have an evening meal before retiring for an enjoyable evening making best use of the bar back at our hotel. Rach even managed to convince the night porter to open the bar especially for us to get another bottle of wine!
27th September 2012: The Vatican Museum
An early taxi took us back to the Vatican area where we joined the already long queue to get in. Once inside, the museum is a vast collection of statues, paintings, frescoes, reliefs, mosaics, carvings and whatever else you can think of. There is so much to take in even though many people rush straight for the Sistine Chapel.
After almost a full day just exploring the Vatican museums, we were exhausted but had a lovely dinner at a fine food restaurant which Rach had booked for us.
28th September 2012: The Colosseum and the Forum
Today’s adventure would be focused on the Colosseum and Forum areas. We walked to the area from the hotel and after a few photos at the Colosseum, entered the Forum via the ‘Sacred Road’. The Forum the centre of where Rome once stood and it is fascinating to walk around since you get the best sense of how ancient Rome might have been. It is rare that you can get a feel of the building proportions to each other and how the roads wound between them. Much has fallen down but the archaeologists are slowly rebuilding it piece by piece.
After finishing up at the Forum, we took a long walk heading north to explore the Spanish Steps, the Piazza del Popolo and the park of Villa Borghese. It was a lovely day and we just wandered the streets relaxing at various points and watching Roman life go by.
Finally, it was time to head back to the hotel and nearby we found a local restaurant which served a delicious pasta meal before our last night and a flight home.