So another full day.
20.07.2011 - 21.07.2011 30 °C
Had a great sleep. Slept with the windows open, which allows fresh air, but it is noisy. I guess Rome never sleeps. Breakfast was cheese, crackers, muesli, tea, coffee and yogurt.
It took some time to get everyone organized and out the door. After a moment of directional confusion we figured out how to get where we were planning to go. Our first stop was interrupted by Joyce's need for American coffee from McDonalds. Their wifi was not working, but Roger, Joyce and Doris had their sit down and Tracy and I went off to explore the Baths of Diocleziano (Emperor Diocletian). Very cool! Around 300 AD these were the largest baths in Rome with a complex of pools, gyms, and schmoozing places that could accommodate 3,000 bathers at a time. The baths are now a church called Santa Maria Diegli. The current nave of the church was the Tepidarium of the baths (a cooler room which people entered after going through the hot room (Caldarium). The church's central area is football field sized. Behind the altar is where a 32,000 square foot swimming pool used to be. The church we saw today was partly designed by Michelangelo (in 1561). The other neat thing in the church is a meridian line, a line on the floor in a north south orientation. There is a small hole 65 feet up on the wall. When the sunlight sweeps across the meridian at noon it shines through the hole and will indicate the date on the meridian line (the line is marked with dates of the year in Latin).
We then backtracked to the National Museum of Rome at the Palazzo Massimo. It is a floor of busts of famous Romans and random busts and statues that show hair and dress styles. The next floor is filled with Frescoes and Mosaics that are absolutely amazing. They have been rescued from ruins and are displayed in a climate-controlled environment.
We may head back for another day, as there is so much to see. We stopped ay a cafe where we managed to order some food from a totally non English-speaking server. We had a Salad and shared some vegetarian calzones. Roger and Tracy had the coffee and declare it very good. Tracy had a brownie of sorts that melted in your mouth. Some of used the WC that was located through a narrow space and down some stairs. It had the usual squat toilet and while there is a cubicle for women the wash-up area is shared with men.
A stop at the grocery store netted us some fresh pasta, sauce, gin, ice cream, melon, banana, and other tasty tidbits.
After a game of Settlers of Catan we went out for our night walk. I went over the plans with Tracy and she mapped out the route and was our guide of sorts. We made our way from the Termini area through some quieter residential streets and found our way. We passed Nero's Golden House and arrived at the Coliseum. 50,000 Romans could pack this stadium and cheer as their favourite gladiators faced off in bloody battle. The Coliseum on the right some open ruins on the right and more touristas. We passed the memorial to Vittoria Emanuele II, Arches, and just amazing sights. Our goal was the Campo de' Fiora. We managed to miss it and arrived at the River
Tiber and crossed the river. Along the shore walk is a strip market with food, goods and classy sit down restaurants. There is supposed to be a nice bike path, but there is so much down there the path is basically made impossible. We picked up some fresh licorice and dried figs. We crossed back over on the next bridge through the Jewish Getto to the Campo De' Fiori. During WWII 2000 Jews were take to concentration camps and only 50 returned. At Campo De' Fiora the piazza is watched over Giorano Bruno an Intellectual heretic who was burned on the site in 1600. The Vatican protested when the statue was erected, but the angry locals over ruled them. Be hind the statue apartments are built right into the walls of the Theatre of Pompey where Julius Caesar was assassinated. We made our way to Piazza Navona. It is huge and is the remnants of a huge oval racetrack. Its central point is the Four Rivers Fountain. The four river gods are Ganges, who is holding an oar, Danube who is turned to admire the central obelisk, Nile, who has his head covered, and Rio de la Plata, which is in Uruguay and is looking quite shocked up towards the church.
We find our way to the Pantheon where we feel the first drops of rain we have felt since leaving Paris. The area is full of protesters. The signs suggest it is a protest against the Mafia. With the few drops of rain the men selling toys and stuff all appear with umbrellas. We must have been asked at least 25 times if we wanted an umbrella. It showered for a while with a few rumbles of thunder and lightning off in the distance, but we're from Vancouver so what is a bit of rain.
Across the way we find Tazza d'Oro del Caffe, locals come here for coffee slush with cream. Further on we pass through the Piazza Caprancia where big shots built palaces with towers just for show. Then came a 6th century Egyptian Obelisk taken as a trophy by Augustus after his victory against Mark Anthony and Cleopatra in Egypt. This sits in front of the parliament buildings where we saw guards all over the place. No obvious politicians or Mafia.
We cross over the noisy north/south stroll and found the Trevi Fountain. Masses of people here, but we threw our obligatory coins with our right hand over our left shoulder into the fountain. Oceanus rides across the waves in his chariot pulled by horses and horn blowing tritons. Are the coins in the fountains used to feed the city's poor? Good question.
The Spanish steps are about ten minutes away and this brings us to the end of our tour. The steps are named Spanish due to the Spanish embassy to the Vatican that located here. At the base of the stairs is a fountain with a half submerged boat recalling the urban legend of a boat that was left here after the flood of 1598. Beer cans litter the streets and we see the last of the umbrella and doodad sellers and make our way home. A twenty or thirty minute walk straight up one street to our neighbourhood and in the door by 11:15