We had a fantastic few nights in Rome, flying out on Sunday and returning on Wednesday. The original reason for the trip was to celebrate Lana’s birthday. We flew out with BA from Heathrow, and trust me, Sunday travel is the way to go – no stress and nice and relaxing. We arrived at Fiumicino at around 4:30 then jumped on the Leonardo Express to take us into the centre of Rome, arriving at the Terminii station. The Hotel Diocleziano was only a short walk away. I booked it after reading the excellent reviews on TripAdvisor, and it certainly lived up to the billing. We had a superior room with a jacuzzi, and Lana was surprised to find the bottle of champagne I’d arranged to be left awaiting us in the room.
After freshening up after the travel we started to walk off to find a place to eat and then headed down to the Colosseum, via the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Whilst taking some long exposures of the church I experienced my first and only darker side of Rome. I’d left my rucksack just behind me as I had the camera and tripod set up. I noticed two men approach me from the front and they split up, one coming towards me and the other going off to the right. As he got nearer I swivelled around to pick up the bag and he walked past. I watched him then rejoin his companion behind me, and they both seemed a bit annoyed that I’d twigged them. A lucky escape.
We eventually arrived at the Colosseum to enable me to grab some night shots. Unfortunately my plans to do a circumnavigation were disrupted by the only rain of our time out there. However I managed to get a few good shots before we headed back to the hotel via the metro at about 10pm.
The next morning saw the arrival of some fantastic blue skies and warm temperatures which we were blessed with the for two full days we were there. The plan was to head down to the Colosseum to get more photos and do a tour. The queues were pretty big, but we signed up for a guided tour which avoided the worst of them for €19 each. It was well worth it with over an hour of time with the tour guide. We didn’t even have to stay near him as they used funky PTT radios to do the tour meaning you could wander out of earshot whenever you wanted to. Very useful when I wanted to linger whilst taking photos. The Colosseum itself is obviously impressive, but one does wonder what it would have been like in its full glory (yes, I have seen Gladiator 😉 It was interesting to hear about how it has been pillaged over the centuries as a source of building material for the rest of Rome, including St. Peters Square. Especially intriguing was the way that it has developed a Swiss chesse look as holes were drilled to get at the molten lead and iron rods used to secure the stone blocks together.
After the tour we wandered up through the Forum and then onwards to the Pantheon, stopping to look at and photograph the sights along the way, such as the Arch of Titus, above. The Pantheon itself was built in 125AD and is still pretty much as it was in Hadrian’s time. The concreted dome is simply amazing.
After a spot of lunch, the rest of the afternoon was spent walking around more, including visiting the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, along with a bit of shopping. We ended up walking back to the hotel after some dinner, finishing off ten hours pretty much all spent on our feet, with a good few miles under our belts. The jacuzzi was a very welcome sight! It was this night I formally proposed to Lana. She knew it was coming, she just didn’t know when.
The priority for day two was to head to The Vatican. I’ll cover that in another post as I’ve yet to go through all the photos!