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Rome - a quick photo tour
Of course, of all the pieces I've done on Italy, it wouldn't be complete without Rome.
Having thrown not one, but two coins over my shoulder into the Trevi to ensure my return to this gorgeous city from the first time I'd gone, I thought it was high time that I cashed one of them in last year, and just as well I threw two, 'cos I didn't get to go to the fountain on this occasion.
This time we hopped a yellow open top bus which was supposed to be the ‘spiritual’ tour around the city - although for us just the first one that happened along, but I rather suspect they’re all the same, I mean, what bus doesn’t go to all the most significant architecture in a city like Rome? But I love these busses, with earphones, you can jump off and on when you like, going down the main avenues themselves filled with grand buildings, lesser sites of historic interest and teaching you all about the history of the city and the peoples. God I love being a tourist.
The Coliseum is of course a must and it’s a busy area, great though for just meandering or sitting in one of the cafes near the metro station watching the kids dancing the way kids on the street do today, and smiling as tourists get their photos taken with guys dressed in Roman gladiator costumes and the like, posing in funny positions, looking awkward in front of everyone as it's a highly pedestrianised area. The traffic is very busy too, and interesting fact, hardly any accidents, even with that amount of tourists. Why? Because regardless if a pedestrian wanders onto the street and it’s their fault, the driver is always the one who must accept responsibility. Like most of Italy though, the roads in Rome seems to be a free for all, no lanes, no structure and no direction. I’ve driven all over the world, but I really would not like to drive in this country, not in the cities anyway.
I wasn’t out on a photography trip this time, certainly not with the camera playing up and with us being rushed, with a lot to see, our time in Rome thus far around Villa Borghese (an erstwhile vineyard turned park and now a pleasant refuge from the streets of Rome and where there is also a zoo, I was rather surprised to hear from my balcony as I contemplated the serenity of the swimming pool) where we were staying. That, and hanging out at the famous and oh so elegant Harry's Bar drinking champagne cocktails. Plus Vanessa was pregnant and a it was a very hot day, but I did try here to get as many angles as I possibly could of this magnificent ancient structure at least, which actually is like a big giant roundabout.
Another side of the Coliseum
Years ago when I went to Rome, the photographs I’d taken all had an inexplicable black mark running along the bottom,right up into the centre of the photograph, rendering them useless, ( digital too!) and so the Trevi Fountain and many sights around the city from that trip had been completely unviewworthy (that’s a word). Imagine the conspiracy theory I thought must be going on among the gods on this second trip, for while I managed to get a few pictures, the camera, a completely different one was playing up yet again – starting at the Vatican where this almost surreal light affected the Holy City beyond me. Weird, but whatever the issue, it seemed to sort itself out for at least a few shots of the Holy City and of some of the more must see for yourself in Rome.
The Ethereal Vatican
Mussolini apparently wanted to build on top of a lot of the ancient architecture with little regard for its historic interest. As a result, roads and other buildings were constructed on top of these magnificent Roman sites. It is said that many houses and establishments today have direct entrance into some of these places, that looters have access to archaeological digs by entering through their basements, tunnelling into some of them to search for ancient artefacts – at least that’s what my guide told me the first time I was in Rome – unless my imagination ran wild, as it can tend to do. But when one considers that the same kind of thing goes on in Seattle, some people’s cellars leading to underground caverns and shops etc of the gold rush days, it wouldn't really surprise me.
One of the must do’s for me this time, having seen most other things in Rome previously, was the Mouth of Truth of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck fame in Roman Holiday. There’s a line up for this, and a suggested donation of one Euro. It’s amazing how many people were scared to put their hand in there, the squeals going on. The rumour was not, as many believe just something invented for the movie though, it started in the Middle Ages when it was believed that if one told a lie with one’s hand in the mouth of the sculpture that it would be bitten off. But they were barbaric back then, even worse than we are today, and of course I can only imagine that in all their judgement, somebody stood back there and hacked off the hand if it wasn’t the answer one wanted to hear. And you know how stories get exaggerated!
The Mouth of Truth is located in the portico of a little church, Santa Maria (home to the supposed relics of Saint Valentine) and is thought to be part of a 1st century Roman fountain or even a manhole cover, and portraying several possible Pagan gods, probably Oceanus although most Romans believe that the word ‘Bocca” is the ancient god of the River Tiber that runs through Rome, and which you see above.
La Bocca della Verità ( "The Mouth of Truth")
The first time I went to Rome, I was told by the guide that it wasn’t worth going up to the Pantheon, that it was hardly impressive. Never a more false word was uttered in my opinion. I’d seen this magnificent structure on a documentary since, and I could have killed her for saying such a thing for I had missed out on seeing it. The oval roof in this place with its skylight and the way it lights up certain artwork and statues is an architectural anomaly, one of the most impressive in the history of the world.
The Piazza outside was one of my favourites, of all the grand places there was to sit, and pay a fortune for, this almost dilapidated place was where I felt the most energy of a vibrant Roman society and so we sat here, and as you only see in really hot places, there were big blocks of ice placed in front of the fans on the patios blowing cool air out onto the patrons.
The Pantheon Piazza
Of course when in Rome, one needs to do some shopping and the street to do this in is opposite the famous Spanish Steps Via Condotti. I love, love, love fitted designer shirts, but I imagine my surprise when for the first time in my life I had to buy large, I didn’t know if this was just as a result of being in Italy for the last two weeks and all that cheese, but I was most upset, I bought two anyway, and today they are slightly baggy, so I can only assume it was.
Finally, this was a trip to Rome for my birthday, we stayed in a luxurious hotel in the Borghese Villa, complimentary, and so photo opportunity wasn't plentiful when we were living it up, fine dining and mooching around elsewhere, but as I mentioned the first time I ever went to Rome I threw two coins in the Trevi Fountain, I still have one to cash in.