Roma

Friday Evening –
Arrived in Rome uneventfully although late. The train was 20 minutes late arriving in La Spezia (the station, 10 minutes by train from Riomaggiore, where I changed trains) and we never made up the time, although the stops in the enroute stations are very short, 2-3 minutes at most. You have to be ready to get on or off or you will be left.

The main train station in Rome (Roma Termini)  is about as busy as Atlanta Hartsfield airport (or so it seemed). My first order of business is to buy a map. Second order of business is to get my ticket to Vienna for Monday night. Since I didn’t buy it in advance (and get the cheaper rate) it’s 100 Euros for a seat or 200 for a compartment by myself. I try for that, figuring it’s worth the extra money for the privacy and a good nights sleep. Unfortunately they don’t have any of those left. The helpful lady at the ticket counter offers me a sleeper with two other men or five other men (price was around 130 Euros, really wasn’t paying attention).

I decline, figuring that if I’m locked in a sleeper car with 2-5 strangers that may or may not speak my language, I’m probably not going to get any sleep anyway (with worrying about getting robbed or worse). I save the 30 Euros and get a seat; figure this way at least I’m in a public car where others are around and maybe I can relax a little and grab some sleep.

Last order of business is finding the baggage storage service. I check out of the convent Monday morning but don’t want to haul my backpack around Rome all day. Plan is to store it at the train station all day (it’s only clothes) while I keep my camera backpack with me while I finish site seeing.

Finally I start my trek on foot to the convent. Initially the neighborhood isn’t great; if you can imagine trekking through Queens or Brooklyn on foot. It gets better and I eventually find the street that the convent is supposed to be on.

The problem is this: there appears to be no rhyme nor reason as to how they assign the street number portion of the addresses here. I was looking for #10. It’s not like in the states where even is on one side, odd is on the other, and the numbers are in order. Bottom line is that I couldn’t find 10. 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12 – no problem, just no #10. Finally I see that the street continues across another street. I venture over there out of nothing but desperation and there is #10, all by itself. Got checked in, room is nice (as convents go, dorm room circa 1960). Breakfast served in the morning.

Location appears to be great according to my map. The Circus Maximus appears only a couple of blocks away. That is where they had chariot races among other things. From there I can work myself up to the Coliseum and then over to the Pantheon. That’s the plan anyway.

Saturday

A convent should be a quiet place to rejuvenate and to reflect on God and our relationship with him. Unfortunately this convent is anything but. The way that the dormitory portion of it is constructed, sound echoes and travels EVERYWHERE. I can hear the front door being rung, I can hear people moving about in their rooms, opening doors, closing doors, locking doors (and my fellow sojourners are either incredibly rude or stupid as they can’t close the doors quietly). I sleep through breakfast, get up late and after showering and changing make my way up to the Circus Maximus.

First stop, however is the Terme di Caracalla, which is where Roman baths were (not sure if it is THE Roman baths but the ruins are pretty big and it was a large place).
The pictures don’t do this place justice as as they show is the brick that remains. Originally I’m sure that it was covered with marble, which was scavenged many hundreds of years ago.

Then is was off to the Circus Maxims, just up the street. Today it is nothing to look at (large, oblong field, but this is where they had chariot races and evidently a stadium that could hold hundreds of thousands to watch. Also supposedly at the end of the field is where the fire that burned Rome (“Rome burns while Nero fiddles”) started. Today it’s somewhat of a park, runners, people walking, etc.

Then up to the Coliseum, which is just several blocks up the street.

The area around the Coliseum is full of tourists (I can only imagine how bad it is in the summer, with 10 times as many people), overpriced street vendors (probably just like Roman times, just different food) and street performers.

I’ve seen the street performers in Key West and Fisherman’s Wharf and these guys don’t hold a candle to them. There the statue people actually use body paint, change poses, and freeze for minutes at a time. These guys here just wrap their body in a sheet and put on a mask and expect you to give them money.

I walked around the Coliseum but didn’t take the tour. There was a long wait so I might do it tomorrow or Monday. Also when I came back on my way home, it was ALOT less crowded so later afternoon might be an option.

The afternoon sun (on my way back) made for better pictures than the midday sun.

An original road?

You can see here how the original structure was overlayed with marble. Most has been removed so it really loses its original lustre.

After the Coliseum it was on to the Pantheon, which was originally a temple to Roman gods. Architecturally it is significant because there is a huge dome in the middle, which engineering wise was quite an accomplishment.

 

This is actually one of the best maintained of the ancient structures. On the outside most of the marble has been stripped but inside it is amazing. At one point during its history, the Catholic church took it over and supposedly made it a Christian temple; I think that they hold mass in here at times.

Once I was done there I grabbed a salad at a nearby restaurant and started the walk back. Tomorrow I’m going to explore some more, maybe try to find some neat, interesting, but much less touristy places.

Monday after I drop off my bag at the train station I think I might be a total tourist and do one of those cheesy bus tours I see driving around. I would like to get an overall view of the city, and it might be nice since I’ll be hauling my photography backpack around with me (don’t trust leaving it at the train station).

Unless I can find internet at the train station Monday afternoon, I probably won’t blog again til I get to Vienna on Tuesday. To post this I’ve got to take a subway to the train station, then walk a few blocks over to the university area.

Postscript – I managed to navigate the subway OK. Something I don’t like about Italy is that they are very grafitti oriented, not on historic things but pretty much everything else.

Also Insight is doing work on their email servers so my email is messed up. Latest I have is from the 8th; hopefully they’ll sort it out by end of weekend so if I don’t reply that is why.

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~ by l on October 11, 2008.

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