Steve n Jen's UK adventures

UK and European adventures. Read on my pretties, and discover what two stray Aussies can get up to on their travels.......

12 August 2010

Aug 2010 Rome - day 4


Sun 08 Aug 2010
Our fourth and final day in Rome.

So we decided to get stuck in and "do" the Roman Forum, the ancient heart of Rome.
 Almost the first thing we come to is the Senate House, indeed, the very place where Julius Caesar was assassinated (pictured above right). The building is the large blocky one on the right in the photo above.

 The original floor, doorways and walls are still intact. The massive bronze doors here are replicas of the originals which were moved to a basilica elsewhere in Rome in the 17th century, bizarrely.

The walls inside used to be covered in slabs of marble (we saw remnants of this), and the circular stair/seats aren't in evidence. But the impressively large doorways at the tops of the stairs are still intact. Their columns are broken though as you can see....

And so, out into the sunlight and exploring this immense archaeological park.

Once more, Steve finds the ancient Roman sewerage system and here he is pointing to the plaque.

Above: This is only one third of the enormous Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, still intact sine 303AD.

After a wander about, we headed up the other hill, the Palatine, and enjoyed splendid views across the Forum and the Colosseum.

Atop the Palatine Hill are several preserved Roman homes, with vividly painted walls. Here are a couple of the walls inside the rooms of Augustus' Domus. It seems trompe l'oeil has been around a very very long time!

In a tunnel, we saw this little gem of roman ceiling plaster.


Also on top of the Palatine is a nice little museum with some really great antiquities.
Below left: Aphrodite. Right: Roman woman's dress (statue carved marble).

Above: some really posh Roman flooring.
Also above: The hairstyle of a young Roman Princess (aged approx 10 from the look of her)
Above: Astonished to see some marble carvings which actually still have some paint on them, and so vivid, love it!
Below: The Stadium on the Palatine Hill (the low, long oval shape at right) and in the left of this photo, the Baths of Septimius Severus.


 The Park provided plenty of ancient marble seating for the tourists to rest their weary feet.

After all this, it was time to return back to our hotel, pick up the luggage and head off to the airport. THe only not perfect thing about our trip was taking 9 hours to get home from our hotel in Rome. Flying with Ryanair, need we say more?

Aug 2010 Rome - day 3

Sat 07 Aug 2010
Day three in Rome.
After breakfast we got the Metro to the Colosseum, which we decided not to go in.
Instead, we just walked along, and past the Arch of Constantine toward the Baths of Caracalla.

It is estimated that the Baths of Caracalla could accommodate 1600 bathers/patrons at a time. Below: Artists' impressions of the Baths in its heyday.

Below: our photos... once again there are enough hints to give a sense of the former glory of the place. Its just vast, there's no other word! It is such a shame that the complex was a quarry (for marble etc) during the Renaissance!
Here are some shots, including various original roman mosaics.

Next, we headed over to see the Circus Maximus (pictured below), on the way to the Tiber River so Steve could check out the Great Cloaca of Rome.

Further along we stumbled upon the location of the Bocca della Verita (mouth of truth), and having seen the queue decided not to bother. Just across the road from it though was a nice little 2nd century temple, thought to be dedicated to Hercules. The roof is a later addition. Considering its age, some of the capitals were is stellar condition!

And here below, is where the ancient Roman sewerage system (not in use for raw sewage these days) flows out into the river.

So we set out back towards the old Roman Forum, and walk up to the top of Capitol Hill. Needing some lunch and to get off the feet something fierce, our trusty Rome stepbystep guidebook assures us there's a simple museum cafe with top views hereabouts. We finally find it and the guide hasn't let us down. Upon leaving we realise actually we're within the museum stairs and have access to the musuem although we've not paid. Oops, so we made a speedy exit without getting into trouble. The views were great though!

And so back out to the Capitol Hill square, and here's an equestrian bronze statue (a cast) of Steve's favourite roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, from 80AD (not that you'd know, with the way he kept draggin me to Trajan's column every day).
Just off this square is a magnificent view over the remains of classical Rome and the Roman Forum (above and below).

And so, with Jen's feet about to fall off, we descended Capitol Hill via the top end of the Roman Forum.
After a two hour nap at the hotel, and showers, and air-con, we were sufficiently revived to do a tiny bit more exploring. This time, we made our way to the Pantheon before closing time. As there was Mass taking place, we back-tracked a little and saw "Time Elevator" which was not in our guide, but we'd noticed on the tourist maps. Having just only now read the reivews online, we agree with most of these headlines:

Anyway, what was achieved is that it was now the perfect time to see the Pantheon and this we did!

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Aug 2010 Rome - day 2

Day two in Rome.

So there's a chance of some rain later today. A good day to see the Sistine Chapel perhaps? After two hours in the hot sun (sensibly with umbrella, hat and large cold water) we finally came to the head of the queue to enter the Musei Vaticani.

Above: the main courtyard (well, that is accessible to tourists).
Below: one of a gadzillion fine sculptures and other priceless antiquities stuffed inside this Museum.

RIght: Here's our star - the Emperor Hadrian (on the right)!
It seems an awful lot of stuff had made its way into the possession of the Vatican, including loads of stuff once housed in Hadrian's Villa. Such as this statue of Antinous (Hadrian's favourite) as egyptian Osiris. This is how roman sculptors "did" egyptian!

Above: Tourists in the Vatican, largely ignorant of the ancient Roman mosaic (approx 2nd Century) they're shuffling across.
Below: On the way to the Sistine Chapel, there was this gorgeous view over Rome...

Of all things, they have the remains of a Roman chariot here! Here are a few more interesting Roman things, some footwear, the inside of a shield (bronze covered, wood inside), and wrap-around greaves.

So, we're still on the way to the Sistine Chapel. To get there, everyone goes along these incredible Renaissance hallways. I think we have another contender for most incredible giftshop! (above) Many metres of these walls are covered in fresco Renaissance maps of the world - incredible! Still on the way, and we come across yet another fantastic Roman floor mosaic that no-one was looking at while they walked across it...

 Because of course they're all looking at the walls and ceiling (pictured above). There are endless rooms we tourists all shuffle through, all richly decorated!
Below: this is one of numerous lovely rondels on the ceiling in another room...

And so, finally we passed through the contemporary galleries and into the Sistine Chapel. Photography is not permitted here, and we made sure to get seats to soak in Michaelangelo's famous ceiling. The chapel was significantly larger than either of us was expecting, and the ceiling certainly was quite high up! It took the better part of 10 minutes to clear the head enough to begin to truly take it in, no thanks to the previous rooms were were saturated with.
After admiring the ceiling for a goodly 20 minutes-ish, we made our way out, to discover many more richly decorated hallways on the way back to the main courtyard. Although our feet were weary, we still paused to look at the various artifacts in cabinets on the walls.

Here's an interesting thing (left and above)... we're sure we've seen bits of this thing in books, but here it is in the flesh! Its a metal, medieval map of the world. We managed to read on it: Asia Major, Minor asia, Egit (egypt?), Europa, Affrica and Reganglia (King of the Angles, England). Cool!
And on this close-up you can see an elephant and wagons.

After a late lunch, we headed over to St Peter's Square and Basilica. We looked at the queue and considered our tired feet and decided not to go in. But these photos give an idea of the scale of the place...


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