Friday, 21 August 2015

Rome Part Two

If you missed any parts to this continuous blog please click the links just below.

The second day of our Rome visit, was the day I was most excited about (apart from the wedding!!). To come to Rome was a lifelong dream after being obsessed with the Roman Empire as a child, but visiting the ruins and the Colosseum was a real bucket list moment for me.

We arrived at the Colosseum for opening time and there was already about 150 tourists in front of us. Not wanting to just assume we'd be able to queue jump because of my wheelchair, we joined the line, only to be ushered to the front where the ticket office issued us with two free two day passes to the Colosseum, Forum and Palatine.

Walking through the corridors out into the main arena I had Goosebumps, I always knew the place was huge but until you're inside you cannot fully appreciate the magnitude of the building. Knowing its history and the "games" that commenced there, I can't begin to imagine the terror of the competitors made up of slaves and petty criminals.

Inside the Colosseum

Despite its bloody past, the Colosseum was beautiful in its crumbling state and I was overwhelmed by being there finally to witness this magnificent place for myself.

We decided to peruse the onsite museum, which held some beautiful art works from Rome and Pompeii (another bucket list designation for another time) and being a complete tourist I bought a beautiful book on Ancient Rome.

It's was a blistering hot day, well into the 30's and at almost 70% humidity, but Mike braved the heat and the Seven Roman hills to take me into the Palatine Hill ruins. After about 20 minutes, Mike was exhausted and apologising that we'd have to go, although I was sad to have to leave, it was not worth Mikes health, but at that moment, an electric golf buggy turned up beside us. Two of the onsite staff had spotted our struggle and offered us a ride to the top of the hill to see the Palatine to its fullest. I was so chuffed, Mike was grateful and relieved!

The Palatine was amazing, especially the stadium and gardens within, with arches, three story homes and business buildings, all built with such precision and skill,  I don't think we can truly appreciate the genius of the Romans, the same goes for the Forum; the man power needed to erect and stabilise such huge monuments and buildings is mind blowing!

The Stadium in the Palatine
The Forum

At about 3pm, as we were leaving the site, a thunderstorm started with a lightning bolt striking near the Colosseum, so we hot footed it back to our hotel and within seconds the heavens opened for a couple of hours - thankfully lifting some of the humidity.

For dinner we went to a place called La Matriciana which was established in 1870 and we had the most scrumptious meal of the whole trip; fresh baked breads, tasty cured meats cut at our tableside, the freshest Mozzerella, the best Ragu I've ever eaten and the most mouth watering desserts, all washed down with Martini cocktails and local beers - a delightful end to our time in Rome - next stop Tuscany!

L x

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Rome Part 1

If you missed any parts to this continuous blog please click the links just below.

2015 European Road Trip Part 1
2015 European Road Trip Part 2


During our trip to Italy, we had noticed that the rumours were true, Italians are the worst drivers I've seen, and I thought the Yellow Taxi drivers in New York were crazy! It seems road rules, markings and safety measures are mere suggestions. To drive in Italy, you have to be quick thinking and sadly very rude, we were so polite, letting people out and keeping an eye on all around us, but by the end of the trip we were just and stubborn and brash.

From Pisa to Rome, we had planned on driving into the city to our hotel and spending three day's walking around, but as we got closer and closer, I thought Mike might have a heart attack, so we decided to book ourselves into an airport parking lot and get a taxi to our hotel.

Our taxi drivers car was scratched and dented, as were all other cars there, and that journey was one of the most hair raising of my life! Arriving at our hotel, the lovely Royal Court, in the centre of Rome, we had a ground floor room and although the front entrance had steps there was wheelchair access thought the hotels court yard. Our room was incredibly plush with gold wall paper, restored furniture and a balcony overlooking the well kept and charming court yard. The staff couldn't be more helpful either.

After a long day driving and walking around Pisa we were tired and ordered a take away pizza from a local pizzeria called Andrea's, which was delicious and fell asleep watching bad Italian music channels.

The next morning we were up by half past 6. With only 48 hours in town, we were going fit as much in as possible! We had decided that we were going to cover everything we possibly could that wasn't the Colosseum and the Forum! So we hoped on a Red Bus tour to see as much of the city from a higher point of view for photos. We saw; the ancient ruins, the Republica and Santa Maria monuments, the Circo Massimo - A famous chariot racing stadium and  Piazza Venezia  - one of the most prominent sights in Rome, as it's so high, huge and white you can see it from many places all over the city.

Pia Venzia

We got off the tour bus at Vatican City. Now, I mean no disrespect to any Catholics reading, but apart from seeing St. Peters Square and the city it's self, we weren't going to go inside, especially after seeing a 3 hour long queue surrounding the famous church. But then a kind stranger said that we didn't have to queue for the attraction because I was disabled, so we thought, why not?

St Peter's Basilica

Boy, am I glad we did. St Peter's Basilica was breath taking and rendered me speechless. The detail, opulence and sheer size of the place was astounding.  The sculptures, mosaics and artwork was some of the best I've ever seen, we of course took a million photos of it all, including some amazing artistic photos Mike took of the painted domes and ceilings (*side note - I seem to have a minor obsession for beautiful ceilings which began in the New York Library Rose Room, Continued in St Peters and thrilled later on in Versailles lol!).

Beautiful Ceilings

Despite my religious beliefs, I left those who were praying in peace and remained respectful of the religious collections but I was disgusted to see tourists climbing up statues and monuments for selfies and better photos! I wanted to personally shoo them out of the building or run them over with my wheelchair - infuriating!

Inside the Church

After the Vatican we visited the Trevi Fountain which was under restoration behind Perspex class and covered in scaffolding - gutted. We consoled ourselves with Gelato at Il Gelato di San Crispino which our Lonley planet book cited as a possible contender for Romes best ice cream - we can voucher that it probably is!

Next we went to The Spanish Steps which were a lovely spot for a little sit (for those other than myself!) surrounded by lovely shops and cafes. We made our way up behind the steps and over to Piazza del Popolo for some superb views of the steps and we were high enough to see Rome's rustic skyline.

Rome Skyline

Here we encountered some flower sellers who were persistent despite us saying No over and over again. They kept giving me flowers for "free" which I put down to leave behind and they still tried to get cash out of Mike and he wasn't shy about telling them to bugger off, so my advice to be firm, look away and despite being British - be blatantly rude to them. 

After walking all day in the 32 degree heat, 60% humidity and the cities never ending hills and cobbled streets we decided to head back to our hotel to chill out before dinner.

After a rest for Mikes aching body and an extensive Trip advisor search, we decided on a restaurant called La Carbonara a 109 year old eatery famous for its name sake dish. A tip with any restaurant in Rome; pre book at least 24 hours before or arrive at 7pm for a table, we did the latter and it was already packed but they gave us a table.

We had both been obnoxiously lazy in learning more than basic Italian and it came to bite us on the arse in La Carbonara. The menu wasn't translated and neither of us had any signal on our phones. So we played a game of eeni meeni miini moh which since neither of us is a fussy eater, worked quite well - I had a raw mushroom salad and the best Carbonara in the world, Mike had a mozzarella salad and a spicy tomato and garlic spaghetti main and by the way when ordering a glass of Coke call it Coca-Cola as Coke is mistaken for a much ruder word - much to my blushes.  

Since the night was young, we decided to go to lovely cocktail bar for a few drinks in the cool city breeze, we eventually got back to the hotel very full, relaxed and very ready for bed.

L x