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Rome - A travel report by Terry
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Rome,  Italy - flag Italy -  Lazio
7877 readers

terje's travel reports

The city of Pontifex Maximus

  11 votes
Page: 1 2
Now, what a strange title is that to a report on the city of Rome? Well, read on, and see what amazing things I have discovered in the Eternal City, once the capital of the powerful and gigantic Roman Empire.

St. Peter's Basilika
St. Peter's Basilika
First of all, let me explain my cryptic title. The Pontifex Maximus refers to the highest priest of the ancient Roman religion. The ceasars themselves used the title, and it was in this role, Julius Caesar in 45 BC introduced the julian calendar we use today. Today the title is a reference to the Pope, thus knitting the 2 main elements of Rome the tourist destination together.

Rome is the home of the 2 most famous murders in ancient history; the stabbing of Caesar in 44 BC and the crucifiction of Peter the Apostle in 67 aD (the same day as Paul the Evangelist was killed outside Via Ostia).

But, why is Rome called the eternal city? In my opinion it is 2 reasons; walk to the top of Capitol hill and smell the influence the roman state have had on modern governments, and learn how the Pope have survived both mad roman emperors, the first attack from the goths and the later attack of the vandals, a 2000 year unbroken chain of popes.

After we decided to visit Rome, I quickly choosed to use literature on the last years of Peter and Paul as my travel guide. I particularly used two books by my favourite writer H.V Morton called "In the steps of St. Paul" and "A visit to Rome".

We arrived on a monday morning in January, and quickly learned how italian drivers can talk in their mobile phone while breaking a double-digit of traffic rules on the way.

The fastest way to get from the airport is to use a taxi. However, this is rather expensive, about 40-50 Euros. You can take the train to Termini station and change to the Metro from there. This will costs you half the price.

The Metro in Rome is a decent way to get around. A 3 day card costs 11 Euros. There are 2 lines, A and B, crossing each other at Termini station. A third line C is under construction.

However, I was surprised of the relative short distances in the city. You could easily walk across the whole city between your breakfast coffee near the Vatican to your lunchtime Darjeeling in Babingtons Teahouse.

Favourite spots:
View from Capitol Hill over Forum Romanum
View from Capitol Hill over Forum Romanum
The Vatican is an obvious place to start your Rome visit. A walk up Via de Concilazione, along palm trees and the marble lampposts watching the enourmous church grow. As soon as you enter Piazza San Petro, you are embraced by the colonnade made by the famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini (who has made "half of Rome's fountains"). On top of the colonnade, there are 140 statues of various saints.

The St. Peters Basilika could deserve a report on its own. The impression is massive. We were lucky to attend a mess in one of the chapels, and we noticed a remarkeble thing by the list of popes in the hallway to the treasury. See for yourself, is it possible to be a pope for 82 years?

Forum Romanum is the other place that MUST be included in your Rome visit. Walking here brings you 2000 years back in time. Touching the remains of one of the strongest empires in world history makes a big impression. Make sure you have a good map describing the variuos buildings before you enter, remember your toga!

What's really great:
The oldest church in Rome? St. Prudenziana in Via Urbana
The oldest church in Rome? St. Prudenziana in Via Urbana
My personal favourites:

Tomb of St. Peter - In the basilika to his honour, although I personally believe he is full of grief by looking down on whats done by his not-so-humble followers

St. Pudenziana - The church is built upon the house that once was the home of both Peter and Paul. 27 steps below the church, the remains of the building can be seen. Beautiful decorations inside and outside!

Atrium Vestae - The house of the nuns that kept the fire alive in the temple of Vesta. A beautiful spot, with ponds and roses, just below the Palatine hill in the Forum Romanum site.

Arch of Titus - made in rememberance of the fall of Jerusalem in 70Ad. A 7-armed chandelier (symbol of the jews) can be seen on the inside.

Monte Pinchio - a beautiful viewpoint over Piazza Popolo, where you can view the sunset behind St. Peter Basilika.

Trevi Fountain - a surprise after hearing lots of negative stuff of the big fountain on the small piazza. I really liked the spot!

The Colloseum
The Colloseum
Capitol and the Tarpea cliff - The mother of all senates, and famous for the two very different steps, the Casto and Pollux statues, the beautiful square designes by Michelangelo and the statue of a riding Marcus Aurelius.

Colloseum - The famous amfitheatre made by Vespasian and his son Titus. Quite scary to think of all the jewish slaves who was used to build it, and of all the animals, slaves and gladiators that were killed in the meaningless shows.

Pantheon - a former temple, who is now a church. The oldest dome in Rome, and as high as it is wide, open at the top. Is is really amazing to see the dome from inside.

Piazza Colonna - worlds first cartoon... A spiral relief showing the history of Marcus Aurelius' Danubian wars from 166 to 180.

Obelisks of Rome:

* Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano

* Piazza del Pietro

* Piazza del Popolo

* Piazza Navona

* Trinita del Monti

* Piazza Quirinale

* Piazza Esquilini

* Piazza Minerva

* Piazza Rotonda

* Piazza Montecitorio

Hotel Giulio Cesare
Hotel Giulio Cesare
We stayed in the newly renovated Hotel Giulio Cesare, located in Via Degli Scaplione 287, only a 150 meters from Lepanto Metro station (Line A). 4 star hotel, very beautiful and known to have the best breakfast in Rome.

The 90 rooms, all with private bathrooms, are furnished in classical style, whit rugs, floor length drapes and crystal chandeliers.

The hotel has a very lovely garden in connection with the bar area.

Except for the extra 60 Euros we had to pay because of a misunderstanding, (I booked a double room for 1 person only), we enjoyed the stay here a lot!

Enoteca Antica in Via della Croce
Enoteca Antica in Via della Croce
We are both into classical music, but I could not find any suitable concerts in that genre. I instead looked for a good jazz club, which I found in Big Mama,, located near Piazza Mastai in Viale de Trastevere. We became members of the club for 26 Euro, and could enjoy free entrance for half a year.

Another jazz club is Alexanderplats in Via Ostia. Both jazz clubs can serve small meals.

Enoteca Antica in Via della Croce near Spanish Steps is a excellent wine bar, where they serve different types of wine from a wooden crate in the middle of the bar area. Small meals served.

Another wine bar we visited was the Il Diavolo Ai Vascellari, adress Via del Vascellari 35 in Trastevere. Books and wine, a perfect combination!

Trevi fountain
Trevi fountain
Spanish steps - A typical place where first time tourists come to look at each other and to take a look over the city from the top. During our 5 minutes rest, we were annoied by 4 salesmen of goods of rather un-interesting quality. I was surprised that such a huge steps just ends up in a small, narrow street. (Via Condotti)

Speaking of spanish steps, the pedestrial streets in the area is the best shopping in the city, along with Via del Corso.

Piazza Navona - A busy and popular place in summer, but in january, the piazza was cold, deserted and expensive.

Fountains of Rome:

* Triton fountain on Piazza Barberini

* Trevi Fountain, remember to throw a coin to make sure you get back to Rome

* Quattro Fontane at Quirinal heights (life threatening to take photos!). Symbols of the 4 major rivers.

* A hidden fountain Below Monte Pinchi view point

* Piazza Navona, 2 fountains with the same motives by Porta, and the famous "fountain of rivers" with an obelisque by Bernini

Interior of Osteria Pucci in Trastevere
Interior of Osteria Pucci in Trastevere
As an end to my report, I write the names and adresses of the two restaurants where we had dinner:

* D'Angelo in Via della Croce 30. Dining outside, OK food and a good wine of the house. Price for a meal for 2: 72 Euros

* Osteria Pucci at Piazza Mastai in Trastevere. Very good restaurant with beautiful interior, mostly visited by romans and have a good selection of typical roman food and wine. Price 64 Euros.

We also drank tea at Babingtons, price for a can of tea ranges from 8 to 15 Euros. They have a selection of typical british food, such as shepherds pie and grilled hamburgers. Price for a hamburger is around 30 Euro.

Other recommendations:
Babingtons Tearooms next to the spanish steps
Babingtons Tearooms next to the spanish steps
If you want to partake in the political life; I stumbled into political demonstrations outside Palazzo Montecitorio (the seat of the italian government) shouting for the president to initiate a re-election.

At Piazza Minerva, while taking photos for my "Keys of St. Peter" and "Obelisks in Rome" slideshows, I stumbled over a filmcrew. Rome is a typical location for Hollywood films.

And I can go on writing about stuff I didn't find time for...

* Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum

* Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls

* The roman catacombs

* The Teatro del Opera

And my dissapointments...

* That the Garibaldi statue at Janiculum was not lighted when I went up there to take a photo in the evening

* That I had to risk my life to take photos of some of the sights, because the italian traffic came a little to close

* The price for a cup of tea at Babingtons or the ice-cream at Piazza Navona

But altogether, Rome is worth a re-visit... yes, I threw my coin in Trevi fountain!

Published on Thursday January 24th, 2008

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Sat, Feb 09 2008 - 01:58 PM rating by eirekay

GREAT Report! Wow! Lots of nice detail - the list of oblisks is marvelous! Really nicely done!

Sun, Feb 03 2008 - 03:32 AM rating by downundergal

You do forget just how many sights Rome boasts - you managed to cover nearly all of them. Lots of helpful tips for the visitor.

Sat, Feb 02 2008 - 04:03 PM rating by jorgesanchez

Molto bello!

Sat, Jan 26 2008 - 01:26 PM rating by alfonsovasco

this a very authentic report

Fri, Jan 25 2008 - 12:19 PM rating by davidx

In spite of the popularity of Rome, this report is not at all hackneyed but full of good information - both historical and current.

Fri, Jan 25 2008 - 04:12 AM rating by bineba

Superb report (and very entertaining as well) on what is one of my favourite cities. I also make sure to throw a coin into the Trevi fountain everytime I'm there. And political demonstrations seem to be a way of life there, I've come across them as well!

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