Rain in Rome; the worst April Fool's joke ever!
Rome Travel Blog› entry 2 of 8 › view all entries
I had decided not to go to the Gazpacho gig in Milan today. Reading my guidebook I realised there was a lot to see in Rome, and I wanted to make the most of my six days here. But more importantly, I needed a little rest. This was supposed to be a vacation after all and I needed it more than I had been willing to admit. In the last month alone I had had two weekend breaks away and a 10-day business trip to Egypt. All great fun, but in between I’d continued to work the usual 50-60 hr weeks and I realised I was just really, really tired.
I started my first day doing what you are supposed to do when on holiday.
I extended the stay in my hotel, but unfortunately they would be fully booked from Thursday onwards, so I had to find another place to stay.
I went to an Internet cafe to check if I could find out where the Gazpacho gig was tomorrow, and if there would be a possibility for a hotel nearby. It turned out the gig was close to the Ciampino airport, where I had landed yesterday. As I did not want a hotel that far from the centre, I figured I’d better find a new hotel in the city centre. At a tourist office they were able to give me some directions on how to get to the venue tomorrow, and they booked a room for me close to the Termini station for tomorrow night.
Right, the boring stuff all out of the way, it was time to do some serious exploring.
I went for a quick lunch, in a place which says “traditional home cooking”. Well, not sure how traditional or home it was, but it was a great little meal nonetheless. I am not really a pizza person, but as they say “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” so I figured I should honour the cliché. And fortunately so, as the pizza was excellent.
I abandoned my original idea to explore Rome chronologically (so start with the Roman ruins, and then move on to the Vatican, the Renaissance area et cetera) and stayed in the central area instead.
I followed the general direction of the walking tour in my Lonely Planet guide. I still had to get used to the Italian language, so rather than trying to identify just which piazza is what, I simply followed the line on my map and passed all the major sites that way.
The first stop was Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Though it is closed to public, it is a very impressive building to see from the outside nonetheless. It is the only church which is left standing intact and virtually unchanged from the 5th century.
I continued along the main through fare, the Via Urbana, until I came to some steps leading up to a higher street. Here I was approached by some tourists who asked me in French if I knew where the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli was.
The two draw cards of this church are Michelangelo’s tomb for Pope Julius II and the chains which allegedly had bound St Peter in the 5th Century. The former is of course definitely more interesting than the latter. Though never finished Michelangelo’s tomb is a true work of art, full of sculptures and figurines. The chains? Well, they’re just a bunch of cast iron shackles which could have been used to imprison just about anyone, including St Peter or his mum.
The ubiquitous flocks of teenagers on school trips had only been a slight nuisance so far. Most of these groups were rather noisy, but also their collective disinterest in anything artistic made that most of these groups stayed outside the sites or churches I visited.
Not so at my next destination, the Trevi fountain. Here it was nigh on impossible to even see the famous fountain behind the sea of umbrellas, raincoats and acne ridden faces. It was not possible to even reach the fountain to do the traditional coin flipping, ensuring a return to Rome, let alone do a La Dolce Vita style dip.
As I would soon find out this was just the start, as most of the major sights in Rome are shockingly busy.
Apart from pizza and pasta there is that other Italian cliché: ice cream. Had my first Italian ice cream across the road from the Trevi Fountain, which definitely lived up to its expectations. I mean, it is a huge cliché, but boy does that Italian ice cream taste good!
In the evening I had an uninteresting dinner in a restaurant near my hotel, where I met a nice Scottish couple who visit Rome almost every year.
We ended up chatting for a couple of hours, while tasty (yet over-priced) beer richly flowed.