Rome, Eternal City, an Ancient empire
Rome, the Eternal City
An Ancient Empire
Rome with its myths, power and prestige was once called an Eternal City, the largest in this Ancient Empire but now doesn't even feature in the top twenty largest cities of today. Yet it's still impressive.
After leaving Luzern, the alpine city of Switzerland, we headed for Italy & Rome. Italy was different. Although some of the scenery looked the same, both stemming from medieval times, Italy felt far more historical and cultural for me.
Inside St Peter's Basilica
I was disappointed we couldn't go to Pisa but fortunately we saw so much else. There were moments of nostalgia, with memories of looking at my parents and god-parents photographs and slides when I was still a child, dreaming of the day that I would see the same places and here I was looking at so many of the same landmarks! It made me think of how many tourists footprints have been left behind in Europe, let alone people who lived there - it's mind boggling because I don't even think we can estimate a guess.
Guards in traditional costume
Here are a few of the sites we went to. I did say in France and Switzerland we got fleeting glances of all the tourist attractions. It continued in the same vein for our entire trip.
Fountain of Trevi - the largest Baroque fountain in Rome is so beautiful, but I don't know if I should believe in its traditional legend. Apparently if visitors throw a coin into the fountain you will return to Rome - we threw a coin in and haven't returned yet, but I am not giving up on that legend!
The Vatican and St Peter's Basilica - the world's smallest independent state. Such ornate paintings on the ceilings and beautiful walls and floors. One can only stand there with a look of profound admiration.
Posing outside the Colosseum
The Colosseum - designed and built so well by Roman engineers and architects such a long time ago. One can't help but wonder about the intricacies of the architecture and how they managed to do such a good job, while in present day what we build and erect sometimes leaves much to be desired.
After a full day of seeing all these sights and going to our hotel to freshen up, we had one last place to go to. At this stage, we were dragging our feet and our heads were busting from 'information overload'. As much as we enjoyed seeing everything, none of us knew if we had an ounce of energy left to see yet another tourist sight. Our tour leader coaxed us with enthusiasm and promises that we would feel revived after this next sight. How true!
As we walked in the Tivoli Gardens at Villa D'Este every one of us seemed to draw some motivation, inspiration and renewed energy from the impressive fountains and vistas as we walked around the gardens. I was especially thrilled, as I had been studying landscape and garden design for the last few years and it was food for the mind and soul to walk through such a magnificent and ancient garden. This was most certainly another highlight for me.
Hydraulic organ fountain
Hundred fountains alley
Friends, Romans and countrymen.... onwards march to Florence!
Florence once again was a whirl of tourist traps but I hasten to add we found it very interesting:
- Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts) where we saw the statue of David done by Michelangelo. According to the experts the Academy has housed the original David by since 1873. Naturally there were other fine arts to enjoy.
- a leather shop. It was so tempting to buy something made of such soft leather, but of course the price was far beyond what we could afford. Alas, all we could do was just touch that marvellous Italian leather!
- Florence Cathedral. The facade had beautiful marble panels of various shades of green, pink and white. The main portal of the cathedral had beautiful huge bronze doors. One of us then got the bright idea to walk up 463 steps to the dome to look at a 360-degree view of Florence. Did we have energy to walk up those stairs? Not really, but who can ignore a challenge like that! The view was well worth all the effort!
Cathedral of Florence
Marble at Cathedral of Florence
After all that exercise, we spoiled ourselves with a real Italian gelato from an ice cream parlour recommended to us by our tour guide and I concur, it was the best ice cream ever!
Michelangelo's Statue of David
Time to leave on our tour bus but there was a problem: one of our travel companions got lost in Florence and after waiting for quite a while for him, we just had to leave him behind or our itinerary would be disrupted. This was in the days before cell phones so we couldn't contact him. Fortunately he latched on to another Trafalgar tour bus and turned up a day or two later. He managed to get a lift with them and resumed his tour with us!
Next stop: Venice! But how will our tour bus cope with all those canals?
Wasn't the artwork and architecture just wonderful in those days? I'm so fascinated by it. What is your favourite?
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