329 – 333: Capitol Time in Rome

329 – Monday 14th March 2016:  Cyclelogical Rome

K (as the supreme navigator) reckoned it would be 8 km cycle ride into Rome from the campsite – it was 15 km! (K:  campsite staff told me so!!!)  We arrived just in time at the cyclelogical meeting place. Simeone (our guide) led us through alleyways and back streets – and over three and a half hours – we discovered and understood much of ancient Rome – an excellent visit – as described in the photos. (K:  our TripAdvisor Review says more about the tour).  All the exercise obliged us to have a hearty lunch with wine – to prepare for the 15 km cyclenotlogical return trip….  Oddly, the return trip was faster than the morning journey inbound – wine-fuelled? 

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The Jewish Ghetto (Ghetto does not originally have negative connotations).  We found our way back here for a booze laden lunch.

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Excellent view of the Forum from Capitoline Hill.

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And across the City to the Vatican from the terrace at the museum – free to climb up to.

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And another view.

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Most ancient bronzes have been smelted down and recycled.  This is a copy, but the original survived as it was thought to be Emperor Constantine (he who sanctioned Christianity), but it is actually Marcus Aurelius.  This is in the Michelangelo designed piazza; two sides are the Capitoline museum and one is the town hall.

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Trajan’s Forum (i.e. market and meeting place) AD107.  These windows were probably the first multi storey massive shopping mall complex.

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Trevi Fountain.  Dodgy pic as the small instant camera did not cope with the sun on the white stone.  Our guide Simone was quite scathing about the quality of the work compared to its popularity.  He also explained that it has been ‘restored’ 3 times in the last 5 years due it’s iconic status, but that each time they remove a layer of the stone.

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Spanish Steps.  Fortunately we’ve seen the steps before not blocked off and under some kind of works.

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This was one of the ‘you’d never find it yourself’ sites – the Olympic Theatre, under other buildings with FREE view accessible through a small doorway.

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Navona Piazza.  Used to be race track, like the Circus Maximus from AD1.  Then a street market until in C17 one of the Pope’s had it cleared so he could build his Palace here.  Real Estate prices shot up – good if you already owned here.

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Yep – we’re both in leggings.  Look the part, what!  Actually think we may have been the sole cyclists with helmets in Rome. J with Star Trek hair style…

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A Bernini designed fountain – Fontana dei Quattro Fiume. Simone really liked this one … hollow rock that holds up a whopping obelisk.  Four rivers and four statues to represent the four (known then) continents.  Quality carvings … wind in the palm tree and muscular forms….

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Doesn’t look much, but is actually the site of Pompea’s Amphitheatre – time of Ceasar (the one that got murdered).  These buildings are built on the curve of the amphitheatre and would have been seating.  Alley ways radiated out where the amphitheatre entrances would have been.  A real hidden gem.

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SYLVIE – THIS IS JUST FOR YOU!!!!  We both had one and it was YUMMY.

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On the bike ride back we passed some works being done.  These images are created by putting up massive stencils and then jet washing!

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Sorry, think I’m becoming more anal about bridges than James.  We went under and past so many on our cycle ride to / from the campsite to the centre.  A couple, like this one, had hollow gaps between the arches.

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When running, all I see is his bum.  Same cycling and similar skinny tights!  Most excellent bike track below road level, but apparently it often floods.

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IMG 2986The last bridge pic … houseboats.


330 – Tuesday 15th March 2016:  The Ides of March 

On the occasion of his demise, Caesar ignored the soothsayer’s warning – and so did we… We attended at his ‘murder’ spot – but a dense crowd prevented us from seeing very much. Interestingly, on the fateful occasion, the Senate met at this location away from the Forum for some reason. It was the law that no weapons could be taken into the Forum, but as this was not the Forum, knives were taken – and used…”Et tu, Brute ?”

Off to the Vatican to see St Peter’s Basilica… however, our arrival time was 5:30 (K the Navigator got us lost in a gelateria and then lost in a massive multi storey carpark) and it closes at 6:00 pm – so, another day…


Wedding Cake aka Vittorio Emanuelle Monument – it destroyed lots of Roman remains in its building.


 This is believed to be the spot where Ceasar was murdered.  Four Temples were uncovered here in the Sacred Way.


We actually couldn’t see this much of the performance … pic achieved holding camera high.


We walked to St Peter’s Basilica via a gelato (of course!), so we were too late to go in.

331 – Wednesday 16th March 2016:  Capital Time at the Capitoline Museum

We often take a picnic and since we both like to chop our apples, we carry a large knife.  Security at the Museum was interesting – we ‘fessed to the knife before it was scanned.  Efficient though, we were given a token and told to collect it on exiting.

We were in two minds about this visit originally, as we’re bit ‘statued out’ – although highly recommended by Simeone and TripAdvisor… To miss it would have been a big mistake!  The cultures and art are amazing – and 2000+ years old.  Do we produce art like this now in the 21st century?  Ok, it’s unlikely that David Cameron will appear on a horse in bronze in front of the Palace of Westminster, but….

To pick only two – the statue (the original – could I have detected the difference?) of Marcus Aurelius is immense in size and artistic expression – and the simple sculpture of the boy taking a thorn from his foot (1BC) – simply genius. A total of 3-4 hours in the Musei and we just about covered the main parts…  Artistically drained – almost too much to take in…  


The copy outside the museum taken with a proper camera and to compare with the original inside the museum. 


The original – Marcus Aurelius.  Originally covered in gilt.  Placed low in a new extension to the museum so visitors can get closer.


Marcus Aurelius again, but included in this post to show the quality of the relief.


All the rooms were sumptuously painted in the Conserators’ Apartment.  Many depicted the history of Rome.  This is the Rape of the sabine Women.


One of the ancient treasures, I forget who, but his eyes are silver.


BC1 – a buy trying to remove a thorn from his foot.


According to legend, Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus, who had been nursed by a she wolf … the cherubs were added later.


Bernini’s Medussa


Just more seriously high quality carving on a sarcophagi.


Another view of the Forum.


A drunken Roman lady, still clasping the wine container … not fallen over yet!

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Capitoline Venus … had her own room … was this to cover her modesty?



A Roman copy of the Greek BC3 statue of the Dying Galatian.  You can see the pain in his face.

332 – Thursday 17th March 2016:  Saints Peter and Patrick

St Patrick’s Day – and as an expatriate son of Ireland, I decided to be a bit stage Irish on our travels – green shirt, green fleece – and green Rugby World Cup 2015 (no good memories there). Thank goodness I don’t have green trousers!  The morning run was a bit green – according to my pace – static… But, off to the Urbano and Metro and walk to the Vatican. The SN (supreme navigator) did not take us through a multi storey car park this time – but directly to Piazza St Pietro.  Our queue wait was a mere 18 minutes – airport style security negotiated successfully no knife today in backpack! – and in we went. K took an audio guide which was really essential.  Again, the photos talk – but in summary, we were awed by the size – and again, the word ‘immense’. It may sound contradictory – but neither of us felt a great sense of religion – probably because of the huge numbers of tourists around.  The Basilica of All Nations in Jerusalem (to me) maintains the sense of religion and piety alongside the swell of tourists. Maybe tourists in Jerusalem are likely to be more pius…?  However, this really is the classic case of the photos telling the story – and reflecting the scale of the Basilica.  It is interesting that Pope Francis has eschewed all the pomp and circumstance traditionally associated with the Papal office – and lives in a Vatican B&B – not in the lavish Papal apartments. He wears simple clerical garb – and has (anecdotally) a good ‘managerial’ style of sorting things out. Whilst accepting that the Vatican needs the tourist revenues, which style is more likely to get the message out to the faithful – the opulence of St Peter’s Basilica – or the simplicity and directness of Pope Francis’ approach?   Back to the day in question…

Speaking of piety…..on departing the Vatican – something magical occurred – actually, it’s called ‘MapsMe’ – programmed to take us to “The Abbey Theatre Bar” – named after the home of the Irish National Theatre in Dublin which was rebuilt in the ’60s after a disastrous fire.  Red wine (not Guinness) – and the best potato crisps on the planet – “Tayto” !  The prices seemed to reflect the fact that both the wine and crisps were imported from Dublin. The bar was in full flow, but we left to head for the Metro – some distance away…..

Super was a version of Irish Stew – not being able to buy lamb (just not seen it in butchers or supermarkets … someone please explain why not) and having some buffalo steak in the freezer… it seemed an obvious swap!  Guinness was used as the sauce, of course.  Accompanied by colcannon.


Michelangelo created the huge Dome.



Michelangelo’s Pieta: 1499 when he was just 25 years old.


 Part of Bernini’s last work, think he may have been in his 80’s.  Monument to Pope Alexander V11


Bronze of St Peter … you couldn’t get close now, but apparently it is good luck to rub his foot.


Hidious, but you notice it.  Bernini’s Baldacchino (canopy) which stands over St Peter’s tomb.  Huge and made of bronze. 


Wall and ceilings are mosaic copies of painted master pieces, most of which are in the Vatican Museum.


Piazza St Peter – laid out by …. Bernini.

333 – Friday 18th March 2016:  Pottering

We ran, pottered and relaxed.  Two lots of soup bagged and in the freezer.  We are rested and will move a little further north tomorrow. 


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