Friday, 14 October 2011

Holiday in Rome, Part 1

We crossed the Atlantic Ocean landing in Rome, dropped our luggage at the hotel, had a quick bite at the quite restaurant around the corner, and began our 6 day journey in the city of 2700 years of history.
The hotel was only 10 minutes walk to St. Peter’s Basilica, a great door to Vatican. A beautiful view was opening on the basilica from the Cavour bridge.

Click below to see more images:

St. Peter’s Basilica Square

There were 2 options to get up to the dome of the basilica: stairs (free) or an elevator (about $9). 
A close look at the mosaic on the dome.
We still had to climb 310 steps to get on top of the tallest dome in the world (136.57 m) to enjoy the spectacular view of the city. The stairs were wide enough only for one slim person, so we couldn’t stop to catch a breath if we wished or change our mind and turn back, because there was a line of people climbing right behind us. Also, if somebody in front stopped moving, we would get stuck too in that tunnel with no windows or doors to get out. Well, it felt claustrophobic up there.
This picture I took on the way going down.

A nice quite residence I spotted in Vatican from the top of the St’ Peter’s.

The basilica is always full of tourists and there is a very long line to get inside, but if you wait long enough until the tour guides move their groups to a different corner, you can get a clear view:

The Spanish Steps is a famous hanging around places 24/7. It looks more like a theater before the show with most of the sitting places taken. Only the spectators are also the entertainers. People are eating pizza and drinking refreshing beverages, chatting, singing in choruses or solo, and just enjoying good times. Not only the Spanish Steps, but almost everywhere in the city the atmosphere of a big holiday prevails all the time. May be because I was there in August, which is a common vacation time for many Italians.

Anywhere we went in Rome, we were followed by people offering us cute Chinese style umbrellas and hats to shield from the burning sun. In the heat reaching +40C, their business was skyrocketing. The city was full of colors from the umbrellas as if there was a carnival.
At night the same guys on the streets were selling flowers. A person could suddenly appear in front of you sticking a rose into your face. Then he would demand money from you. If you didn’t take the flower, but made at least an eye contact, he would be following you until you buy it. If you insisted on leaving you along, he could do so, but a minute later his business partner would suddenly block your way with the same rose. Even if you were holding an umbrella in one hand and a red rose in the other, they still wouldn’t leave you along.

 Here they are waiting for a new target.
Beautiful Trevi Fountain. Although it was overcrowded with tourists and locals, photographers and painters, police and pickpockets, we spent at least an hour just sitting and looking at this, one of the greatest fountains ever created, and felt romantic. I noticed that it is a popular meeting place for anybody who feels lonely in Rome.
The same salesmen, that everywhere in Italy offer roses and umbrellas, would approach you there with Polaroid cameras. I haven’t seen anybody agreed to have them taken a picture in front of the fountain, simply because this days all tourists carry digital cameras. When I refused the photo service as well, he wanted to take a picture of my wife and me with my new Canon 60D. Even my wife doesn’t dare asking to hold it, although it is a present from her.

The Castel Sant'Angelo was a prison for Giordano Bruno and a famous  alchemist Cagliostro. It was connected to St. Peter's Basilica by a covered fortified corridor called the Passetto di Borgo and was the refuge for the popes.
This fortress appeared in Dan Brown's novel Angels & Demons as the last existing church of the Illuminati.

Piazza del Popolo with the Egyptian 4000 yeas old obelisk in the center of the square.

Villa Borghese gardens. 

I have to mention the delicious cappuccino that I don’t get anywhere in Canada.

A few more pictures: 

 In the next post, I will share photos of Vatican, Coliseum, Pantheon and more. 

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