Kathryn and Ken's European Vacation
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Day 41: Rome Italy
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Day 36: Venice, Italy
Day 37: Venice, Italy
Day 38: Rome, Italy
Day 39: Rome, Italy
Day 40: Rome, Italy
Day 41: Rome Italy
Day 42: Florence, Italy
Day 43: Tirrenia (Pisa), Italy



Hotel Contilia


Mostly sunny with a high of 24°C


Day 41: Tuesday, October 10, 2006     Rome, Italy

Culture at the Galleria Borghese

We slept in until 9:00 am and had another great complementary  breakfast in the hotel.  We decide to revisit Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps in daylight.  Along the way we passed by Piazza Carlo Alberto, a beautiful little park dedicated to the father of Victor Emmanuel. It featured a statue of Carlo Alberto with an incredible bas relief scene of his death below.  When we arrived at Trevi Fountain, it was packed with tourists and people taking wedding photos.  It was even more spectacular in the bright sunlight.

Trevi Fountain

We then proceeded down Via Corso and saw the Column of Marcus Aurelius, a Doric column, with a spiral relief, built in honour of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and modeled on Trajan's Column. It still stands on its original site in Rome, in the modern Piazza Colonna  The spiral picture relief tells the story of Marcus Aurelius’  Marcomannic wars, waged by him from 166 to his death.  Further along we turned and once more walked down the exclusive shopping street Via del Condotti (the Fifth Avenue of Rome).  Some of the shops on the Via Condotti include: Yves St. Laurent , Bruno Magli, Giorgio Armani, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Modigliani, Swatch watches, Christian Dior, Gucci and many others.  Luckily Ken was able to keep Kathryn moving.

Column of Marcus Aurelius

At the end of Via Condotti, we arrived at the Spanish Steps.  138 steps climb steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, with the church under the patronage of the Bourbon kings of France, Trinità dei Monti, above.  The church - like much of Rome - was under repair.  Happily for wonky old Ken, we found an elevator that took us almost to the top.  We walked north along the elevated Via Triniti dei Monti and the view of Rome was spectacular.  We continued on to the end to Pincio

View of Spanish Steps from the top

Terrace which overlooks a huge square.  We had to walk down several stepsto the Piazza del Popolo, one of the most famous places, especially for foreigners, in Rome. The name in modern Italian literally means "piazza of the people", but historically it derives from the poplars after which the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, in the northeast corner of the piazza, takes its name.  An Egyptian obelisk of Rameses II from Heliopolis stands in the centre of the Piazza.  There was a giant PlayStation screen in the square for some tournament. By now it was after 2:00 pm and we discovered for the first time that most restaurants in Rome close down from early afternoon until the evening.  We managed to find a pub just off of Popolo Square and had a delicious panini (and beer) for lunch and, of course, a gelato for dessert. 

View of Piazza del Popolo from the Pincio Terrace

We now had to climb back up the steps to the Terrace.  Ken's knees were in bad shape and this took awhile.  We then walked across Villa Borghese Park to the Galleria Borghese.  The Borghese is so popular that you have to reserve tickets a couple of days in advance.  Luckily we knew this and had our hotel clerk book us tickets for 5:00 pm when we arrived in Rome.  The Vatican Museum and the Louvre are bigger and more famous but the art in the Borghese is absolute magnificent.  We had to check our cameras before we could enter the museum.  I found the photo at right on the Internet.  It depicts Proserpina being seized and taken to the underworld by Pluto.  Bernini's statues are brilliant.  Kathryn was especially taken by the indentations of Pluto's fingers in Prosepina's skin.  For more on the Borghese, see http://www.galleriaborghese.it/borghese/en/edefault.htm

Bernini's Rape of Proserpina

We had a leisurely long stroll back to the hotel.  We went out to another restaurant near our hotel.  We ordered a pizza, salad and a glass of wine.  We nearly killed ourselves laughing when our "four-topping" pizza came with four separate piles of ham, mushrooms, artichokes, and olives.  We were sitting at a four-seat outdoor table and the restaurant was full so we were joined by a couple of young American men.  One was going to school in England and the other was visiting him and they were on a brief holiday in Rome.  They got a good laugh about our pizza.  We went back to the hotel for a good sleep on our last night in Rome. 

A "four topping" pizza in Rome

Some things we noticed while we were in Rome:
  • Street vendors: everywhere we went, the vendors would be set up on the sidewalks.  Their wares seemed to break down by race: black Africans were selling purses; middle Easterners were selling sunglasses and Asians were selling small camera tripods and remote control cars.
  • Old women were begging in the streets.
  • We never saw (nor felt) any pickpockets all the time we were in Rome in spite of all the hoopla
  • Smart cars were everywhere and parked sideways in small parking spots.  We even saw a convertible Smart car.
  • Rome would be a much nicer place to visit if it didn't have all those tourists.

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Day 42

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