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Rome Weekend 

February 2000


Dan decided to take me to Rome for my Christmas present but we were to go on Valentine's weekend. Rome is still very cold in February so we wrapped up warmly. I think it was much colder there than in  the U.K. so I wore two jumpers, a jacket and a big overcoat just to make sure I was warm!



Here I am in St. Peters Square complete with winter ensemble plus scarf because it was really cold, especially when the sun went away.

We had both never been to Rome before so were quite looking forward to seeing if it was as impressive as the postcards suggest. It certainly had enough history to tempt me to visit for a while.

St. Peter's Square was really amazing. I'm glad the Pope was not making an appearance that weekend as I hate crowds and this place would have certainly been crowded. We phoned up my Aunt who is very religious and said we were standing in the square and about to go into the Basilica. She had done this trip many years ago and was interested to learn of our forthcoming itenary.


 Dan was also warmly dressed and happy to be on another 'weekend away', especially off season as it were.

The Vatican has been the papal residence since 1377. Before that, the popes resided at the Lateran with the exception of the 1309-1377 Avignon Papacy. Vatican Hill was the earlier site of  Emperor Nero's Circus, where St. Peter was crucified upside down. The first Christian Emperor, Constantine, built a magnificent basilica on this spot, but during the Avignon Papacy, it became neglected and needed to be rebuilt. In the early part of the 16th century Pope Julius II undertook this task. The modern basilica we see today took 176 years to complete. This picture shows the Basilica and St. Peter's square surrounded by Bernini's colonnade.

We went inside and it was incredible. This is just the domed ceiling so imagine the scale of the place. We had stiff necks when we eventually came out because there was so much to see! Michelangelo started this ceiling but he did not live to see it finished. It must have been a huge project.

 This was the view looking up the large corridor leading to the famous domed ceiling. You can just see someone standing underneath a large baroque canopy which in itself is dwarfed by the huge expanse of dome. This canopy or 'Baldacchino' was designed in the 17th century by Bernini. It is made of gilded bronze.

There is so much to see around the St. Peter's Square area that you could take all day looking. There are the usual souvenir shops selling religious artifacts and jewellery but they are very plush; not the usual souvenir stalls that you find at most other historical sites. After all. this was Rome! I brought the obligatory set of Rosary beads and off we set looking for other places to visit.

What's good about Rome is that you can walk around the city without having to take buses or taxi's' but beware, the locals use 'scooters' to get about and they don't always stick to the roads either!

This is the famous Colosseum where nearly all the Roman games were held. It is huge; walking around it alone takes you at least fifteen minutes. Some of it is better preserved than other bits, but you certainly get a feel of just how many people this stadium would have held when  mad Emperor Nero fed Christians to the lions, just to boost his popularity!

 

These Roman guards were having some fun with the tourists so we kept a discreet distance away and watched other people being made to look silly!

Later in the day we wandered around and found the Trevi fountain. This was in a restaurant area so we had lunch and then decided to run up the Spanish Steps which is very close by. Perhaps we should have done this before lunch as there are quite a few steps and my energy levels are always low after food.

 

There is a whole area in Rome known as the 'Palatine' that is given over to ruins and on-going excavation. It is very interesting to walk through and try and work out which ruin comes from which period in history. 




Dan found some more steps for us to transverse........sigh.

He also found that someone else called Daniel had been there before him. Perhaps it had been a gladiator or prisoner during the time of Julius Caesar, who knows. But whoever it was, he had been locked up!




Imagine having a house as big as this. All that cleaning!

Rome was a great place to visit but it was very cold during February and you really did need a strong pair of comfortable shoes for all that walking. I don't think I have ever walked so much in my life! But as far as ideas for Christmas presents go, this one was great; I wonder what I will get next year..........

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