Rome Day 1March 31, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C
We made it to the large car park with a €20 per night camper stop and services at about 11am. An attendant showed us to our bay and after ensuring Poppy was ok, we grabbed our sun hats and set off to experience Italy's capital city!
It was about a 2km walk to reach the edge of the historical centre. The area we passed through had many high rise buildings and seemed neglected. There were several homeless people and a market selling piles of clothes for €1 per item. We took a short cut through a park but it was strewn with litter. People had tried to keep it clean by using the bins but the authorities obviously hadn't emptied them in a while, it seemed they were more focused on the presentation of the tourist areas than the cleanliness of residential amenities.
Our first port of call was the grandiose Colloseum whose scale it was difficult to get a perspective on. Pushy touts swarmed around the tourist hive and we nearly got roped into giving a seller money, literally. He spun us a yarn and put bracelets on our wrists as 'gifts', before asking for money for his baby. It ended with us placing the bracelets on a railing because he refused to take them back. After 30 minutes queuing for tickets and being processed in the airport style scanners, we were finally in. We've seen a few Roman ampitheatres on our travels and this was the most imposing. Others have had a beauty to them, but we found this huge structure's allure was the solid strength it exuded. Perhaps the difference was due to how intact the ancient building was.
A visit to a gelateria refuelled us with some interesting flavours of ice cream, green tea, cointreau and orange peal to name a few. We'd entered the historical centre of Rome by now and couldn't believe the concentration of majestic historic structures. No other city we have visited even comes close. Everywhere we turned there was something to look at, whether crumbled ruins or towering columns supporting well maintained roofs. We stumbled accross many things that would appear spectacular in other cities but faded in significance in the midst of all the other grand places.
The temperature was well into the 20s so we sought refuge inside an air conditioned restaurant for a healthy(ish) lunch of simple pizza and cous cous with vegetables.
From several different points around the city we'd seen a splendid white columned building with bronze effigies of horse drawn chariots and winged charioteers on top. It turned out to be the Vittoriano, a 20th century construction that among other things, provided views over the city from its terrace and for a price, access to the top level for an even better perspective. It felt like we walked miles around this huge place trying to find the way in, not that there wasn't sights to amuse us along the way! Our favourite was a piazza containing huge statues, most of them in white marble but some in bronze. We felt dwarfed by their sheer size and number. Once inside the Vittoriano, a richly decorated building with large moulded roses on its arched ceiling, we climbed up and looked out over the terrace on to the tops of domes and stone buildings. We had planned to go all the way to the top but it was getting late and the sun was shining from behind the main views, making them difficult to see to best effect.
Our last visit of the day was to the Pantheon, a circular building with marble pillars arranged in a rectangle at the front, so as to provide an impressive wide entrance. From the outside, its rounded brick walls were nothing much to look at, save for their size, but the interior design and works of art were stunning. The building was beautifully proportioned and its ornately decorated walls, with alcoves for statues or frescoes, led up to a more simplistic domed roof, in the centre of which was a 8.7m wide circular opening (the oculus), to the blue sky above.
More than a little tired and overwhelmed with all we'd seen, we returned to our stopover. There were several areas for campers and one of these seemed to be devoted to people who we supposed to be living there full time. Perhaps it was cheaper than renting an apartment?Read more