THURSDAY 24th March ROME
Weather: Clear & Sunny 14c (am) hot sun 21c in Rome
At our port of Civitavecchia, which is the nearest port for Rome, the sky was blue, and the sun out, but still a bit on the cool side. We listened to the on board announcement about the weather, which gave a high temperature of 16c but to remain dry and sunny. So we had to make a decision on what to wear for the day, as we were going on a trip from the ship, called Rome on your own where you are dropped off in Rome, then at an arranged time and place they pick you up and bring you back to the ship. This tour, which we have done many times before gives you about 6 hours in the city, which for Rome is not a lot of time, but you just have to plan what you want to see, and keep coming back and see some more the next time.
The port of Civitavecchia is a busy one, along with its local fishing fleet, it also serves many islands and other Mediterranean ports with ferries, but also we were one of five cruise ships in today, which are here to go to Rome. So you can imagine the amount of coaches and tour guides which were needed to serve us all, not everyone goes to Rome some passengers go into Civitavecchia itself, or into the surrounding area.
Off we went on coach number 14 with our guide Adrian for the 1 ½ hr. journey to Rome, it`s mostly all motorway, but some things seem to be a bit familiar, having driven this way before. When we reached the outskirts of Rome some familiar buildings came into view. The first of them being the dome of St Peters, what a sight! Then you`re in the mix of the traffic just waiting to get going in this fabulous city, finally in, and our pickup point and time arranged, we went go our separate ways.
Our main objective for the day was the Sistine Chapel, although we`ve been to Rome many times, the right time has never presented itself. You have to consider what day of the week it is, the time of year, and so on. Anyway we thought being quite early in the year and mid- week it was the right time to visit. We left St Peters square and made our way to the Vatican Museum entrance, which the Sistine chapel is a part of, there still seemed to be a lot of people around, but we had only to wait a few minutes to gain entry. As soon as you enter into the main route to the chapel, you go through many rooms which are so ornately decorated you keep saying “I think this is the Chapel “ then you go on, and the next room is even more magnificent. As I think you`ll see from the photos, and for those of you that have been there yourself, you have got to pinch yourself at what you are seeing!! As you follow the flow of people, you eventually end up in the actual Sistine chapel. This was full of people, some sitting on stone benches around the chapel, some just standing looking up at these marvellous paintings by Michelangelo, Botticelli and the like. You really can hardly believe you`re seeing this at last. It`s something we`ve wanted to see for years.
After the euphoria of the Sistine chapel, we came out of the museum complex and jumped into a taxi, and made our way to the Trevi Fountain, one of our favourites, we always make time to go there. Our tour guide on the bus had suggested an eating place right next to the Trevi fountain, so it was pizzas all round, and what a good choice! And to finish off we had a giant Ice-cream, then outside to find a seat and watch the world go by and soak up the atmosphere for an hour, just looking at the fountain. This is Angies favourite place in Rome, since she saw the film, “ Three Coins in a Fountain”, when she was ten.
Rome is a good city for sight-seeing, and as our tour guide said, it`s a living museum. And a lot of these great roman sights are all within walking distance of one another. So we made our way along the shaded narrow streets, with their street cafés and stalls to our next stop which is the Pantheon, this great round roman building, with a massive dome and pillared entrance, is a very impressive building and a great tourist attraction. To think you are walking around this building, and the Roman people were doing the same in their day, it`s a strange feeling! Again with the square outside full of sunshine, and the horse drawn carriages waiting for business, and the cafés, restaurants and bars it`s a lovely setting.
We then left, after finding the right exit we wandered gently along to our next experience, which is the Piazza Navona, this is a long rectangular space, with statues and fountains all truly magnificent. The piazza that day was full of local artists, drawing and painting, many of them are of caricatures, again with the café` culture around, it all added to the atmosphere.
We then set off walking back to our pickup point at St Peters square, but we were in plenty of time, so the pace was slow, just taking in all that`s around us. We then came to one of the many bridges which cross the river Tiber, nearly all these bridges have several ornate statues on them, there`re works of art in their own right. So with time on our hands we sat on a wall and just watched the world go by. As with all major cities, it`s surprising how much walking you do, and with the temperature in the 20s it was good to stop.
After resting, we then passed the Castle St Angelo, this round impressive building, has a museum inside, but we didn`t go in. Then walking up an avenue which lead us into St Peters square, we were looking to have a coffee before our coach trip back. Nearing the top, we spotted our table mates John and Marilyn doing the same thing. So with coffee latte, and a glazed fruit tart each, we caught up with what each other had done throughout our day in Rome.
So with all our group together, we made our way back to our ship in Civitavecchia. On our holidays in the Mediterranean, we`ve been lucky enough to have been to Rome several times, and we don`t seem to tire of going back time and again, and we still feel that way.
So to you all, family, friends and maybe some of you who stumbled across our blog site, I hope you have enjoyed our writings, and pictures of our journey around the world, this being our last port of call. Many thanks for your comments because when you are away from home these things are important! So until we meet again, which will be soon for some. Goodbye from Colin and Angie