Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Rome Italy

This Trip: FROM 2014.05.24 TO 2014.05.26

Being the hub of ancient empire and home to numerous significant prehistoric and historic archaeological remains, no doubt the beautiful Rome is among the top ten on travellers’ list of must-see. Overall experience of the trip, however, was just fair, due to the fact that we could not get used to the traditional Italian culture such as queue-jumping and dangerous driving. Transportation network of Rome is not advanced enough compared to those in Paris, London, and Madrid, but better than the one in Lisbon. Worst of all, a few Italians whom we came across were dishonest and unpleasant. For example, someone from the hotel told me that there was no public transportation available at late night from FCO airport to the city and I would also have difficulty finding a taxi and so he would be happy to arrange a transfer service for us at EUR70. I am glad I did not believe a word he said. There is a bus departing at 00:30 at EUR6 per person, another at 01:15 at EUR7, and there are taxis available around the airport at a fixed rate of EUR48. What’s more, an unfriendly staff member in Basilique St Pierre directed us 1km east for Sistine Chapel, which actually is in the north right next to the Basilique.


The very first stop of this beautiful Saturday was Vatican City, where we were able to take some really good shots of the crowded Piazza S. Pietro under the azure sky, before going on a huge queue for entrance to the Basilique. With lots of people queue-jumping, of course, we finally arrived at the entrance only to be told I needed to cover the little part of my shoulders not covered by my sleeveless dress. I would have been fine with that and happy to respect the rules of a religious monument, only if the others of white skin in low-cut dresses were asked to do the same. I was truly sad, but then got ready and excited to go all the way up to the panoramic viewpoint. We made a great decision to pay EUR2 more to go up by elevator, because we still had to walk a lot up after getting off the elevator. That was exhausting, but worthwhile. We continued to sightsee Rome by walking after lunch. Attractions included Castel Sant’ Angelo, Piazza Novona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Spagna, Pincio, Piazza del Popolo, and Museo Hendrik Christian Andersen. It was super-crowded at Trevi Fountain. We could hardly move in the crowd. I liked the panoramic viewpoint at Pincio but it was also where we got attacked by a little kid, who intentionally threw us a bunch of little rocks. I would have been hurt if he had the strength of an 8-year-old. We did spend a good day though, sightseeing this pretty city and enjoying delicious Italian pizzas and gelato.


We started the day by visiting the Colosseum, our most favorite attraction in Rome. Time for queuing, and witnessing queue-jumping, again. This impressive archaeological site is almost 2000 years old. Quite a big part has fallen and replaced by contemporary construction. Some Italian tourists stepped on those dying pieces in the site just to take pictures but got scolded by security guards. How sad. People should be aware that it is important to protect prehistoric and historic archaeological remains. Next, we visited the Roman Forums, a rectangular plaza surrounded by ruins of several important ancient government buildings and for centuries the center of Roman public life. It was already 14:30 and we were so tired and hungry. Luckily we were able to had a yummy lasagna lunch nearby, before heading to other attractions including Milizie, Piazza Venezia, Terrazza delle Quadrighe, and Capitol Hill. Dinner was pasta, another must-try Italian cuisine, and then we were energetic again to take a walk to see a part of Rome at night. Got some nice shots at Castel Sant’ Angelo and the Vatican.


We were so thankful we had all three days under sunshine. First, we walked from the hotel to The Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Again it is a bascilica with grand exterior and interior. I would call Rome “the city of bascilicas”. We then took the tram to reach Porta Maggiore which is by far the best urban site to visit for an understanding and view of the ancient aqueducts. Grasped our last opportunity to enjoy some more pizzas and heavenly gelato at lunch time. The rest of the day we travelled by metro and on foot to Basilica of St. John Lateran, Roseto di Roma Capitale (The Rose Garden), Mouth of Truth, Giardino degli Aranci, etc. People were queuing to put their hands into the Mouth of Truth for a shot. Instead of queuing, we just took a picture from outside the gate. It was just too time-consuming to queue at all times. We planned to take the train from Termini station to FCO airport. It was so chaotic at Termini. There was not even one staff member around available for answering queries. To ask one question we needed to go on that huge queue. No way! We did not bother, but take a taxi. Never risk missing the plane!

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