Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rome In a Day

We went to Rome today. The ship docked at Civitavecchia where all the ships dock, and those of us signed up for this specific tour were given an orange sticker to wear so we’d be easily identified, herded onto a bus and handed receivers to hang around our necks so we could hear the tour guide who was quite often walking yards ahead. There was no disguising our status as tourists at that point, but what choice did we have?I love the idea of exploring a city without a guide, but when the city is so foreign and there is so much to see and understand, it makes sense to follow a guide on your first visit.

Our guide, Paula, was full of information about the history of the city and the modern culture—at one point, she declared the Latin lover to be dead because all the men in Rome have become Mama’s boys who prefer to live with their parents until they are 40 at least, and then they are too old for a wife and a family, but she wasn’t bitter.

We got off the bus not far from the Colosseum and then walked there to explore the place. Good lord, it’s ominous. The emperor would host free entertainment in the Colosseum with free food for all, so it was a big hit. The early Roman definition of entertainment (thirst for blood) wasn’t what I’d call entertaining, but we don’t need to go into that.

Then we walked across the street to the Forum, a huge collection of ruins still being excavated. After the Barbarians brought down the Roman Empire and the Church eventually took control of the city, the Popes oversaw a cannibalizing of the monuments and turned pagan structures into churches. And a millennia’s worth of wear and tear added to the general destruction of the place. It’s amazing how much is still standing, though.

The Pantheon, for example, is beautifully intact, and it’s over 2,000 years old. The fact that it's not just standing but is solid is a testament to the engineering genius of the ancient Romans. We walked there, too. And then we walked to the Fountain del Trivi:

Because of the crowds, we weren't able to get close enough to toss a coin in, but it really is a marvel. There are lots of little shops near there (along with thieving Gypsies, we were warned), and I bought some silk scarves for the girls and a pair of extremely cool silver earrings.

On this excursion, we were treated to a wonderful lunch—lasagna as the first course, great wine, pork with salad, tiramisu and some of the best espresso I’ve had so far. We shared a table with a nice couple from north of London, and we talked about everything from health care options to honoring our elderly mothers by giving them things they never dreamed of having in their impoverished youth.

It was an exhausting day, and I have a monster of a headache, which is rare for me, so I’m resting in the room as we slowly back this big boat out of the harbor. We’ll sail to Livorno over night, and tomorrow, Husband and I will travel to a farmhouse in Tuscany for a wine tasting and tour of the winery.

Until then, here is a shot of the pines of Rome.


dive said...

Wonderful photos, Robyn!
You've been so lucky with the weather, too.

pf said...

The Pines of Rome....ah!!!! Could the monster headache be caused by all the wine tasting?? :)