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Our Thai Airways plane left Sydney at 5pm on the 30th September 2007 bound for the exciting city of Rome. A short
transit in Bangkok and then back in the air heading towards another great holiday in Europe. Our early morning arrival saw us booking into the Cicerone Hotel and then
off to explore, of course wasting no time at all. A quick walk
towards the Castel Sant'Angelo was our plan of action and after passing part of the city walls we stumbled across wonderful
views of St Peter's Basilica in the distance. The Castel was here on the river Tiber and was an awesome sight. Emperor
Hadrian had it built in 130 A.D. as his mausoleum and it held the remains of the Imperial family until the reign of Marcus
Aurelius Antoninus also known as Caracalla.
It was also Used as shelter for popes and as a jail and in 1277 it was joined to the Vatican by the famous
"Passetto". This long fortified passageway allowed the pope to walk safely from the Vatican to Castel Sant'Angelo.
Unfortunately on Mondays the castel was closed, so after we had a good look around we crossed the Ponte Sant'Angelo bridge.
This is famous for its magnificent statues created by by Bernini. Absolutely amazing!
It was a beautiful summer day and so we decided to walk along the river and take in the delightful sights that seem
to be everywhere in Rome. St Peter's was again in full view and the churches were just magic. Back into the streets we came across the traditional bottle of wine along
with many culinary delights which gave us the idea to stop for a coffee and gelato. Walking along further we discovered a celebration of fashion by Valentino, the designer.
A great way to see Rome is by the Red bus - takes you all over the city. We passed the rowing club and saw lots of little cars - so cute and just what you need for the streets
It was time to explore more of Rome and the Piazza Navona was on our list. There were many fascinating statues
on the way and of course people enjoying the outdoors in the Piazza. Once in the Piazza there was lots of art and many fountains with beautiul statues in them.
A visit to the magnificent Pantheon was next and the inside is so incredible! The height of the ceiling, the size of the
opening in the roof and all the incredible marble. Time for dinner and then off to see the Trevi Fountain at night...
Crowds of people were just enjoying the atmosphere
and of course there were lots of coins in the fountain.
The next morning a tour to see the Colisseum was in order so we left the hotel and visited this unbelievable complex. Initially it could seat some 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum
was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. It remained in use for nearly 500 years with the last noted
games being held there as late as the 6th century. Gladiatorial games and many other public
events were held there like mock sea battles, executions, celebrations and
dramas based on Classical mythology.
Now the poor condition is due to earthquakes and stone-robbers but the Colosseum has long
been known as an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome and is one of the most visited sites for tourists.
Next on our list to visit was The Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran) also known as Rome's
Cathedral, a church originally established by Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome. The facade dates back to 1736
and is easily recognised by the brilliant white statues of Saints on the top. Lunch was in order and then a search to find
another famous church The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. This is the largest and most important place of prayer
dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is located in the Square of Santa Maria Maggiore and has an obelisk directly
in front of it. Inside is the stunning Central Nave that houses magnificent mosaics and Giovanni Hajnal's rose window is a masterpiece.
The mosaic of the Apse describes many events of the Virgin Mary and is a glorius work of art. The Ipogeo, a statue of Pope
Pio 1X seen to be be worshipping The Sacred Crib which honours the place where Baby Christ laid according to history.There is
so much more to see here and it was worth a visit. Then it was off to see San Clemente but no photos to be taken here. The attraction of this church was the
city beneath and the two levels we saw were very interesting indeed.
Time to catch the train back to somewhere near our hotel, have dinner and rest up for the trip down to Civitecchia tomorrow
to board the Marco Polo and begin our exciting adventure!