Italy Part One - From Home to Rome

27th April, 1995
28th April, 1995
29th April, 1995

Thursday, 27th April, 1995

Drop Cap ell, here we are, in midair enroute for Amsterdam, via Singapore. Business class is nice, lots of leg room and, wonder of wonders, an adjustable footrest, personal video screens which come out of the arm rests, adjustable tables (nearly big enuf). The seat is wider than economy, but still snug. Fabulous looking menu, food is yet to be tried but the mixed nuts with the drinks were nice, almonds, macadamias and cashews as well as peanuts. We are sitting, would you believe, upstairs! although Annette said she booked us downstairs because it is non-smoking there. However, when we arrived here there was a smoking sign by our chairs. We brought it to the attention of the stewardess but what has happened is that it is mixed, she asked everyone around us if they smoked and most don't. There is, however, someone behind us, smoking. This is the first time we have had smokers in our section, even Philippines economy. Mac is not pleased. Hopefully they won't puff all the way.

After midnight, only one hour to Singapore.

Drop Cap inner was excellent - starched table cloths and serviettes in china rings (the serviettes had buttonholes to attach to one's front - very good idea) There were little china salt and pepper shakers (but the salt was damp, oh well) and unlimited rolls. Geoff should be here, the smoked salmon and prawn entree was delish. We curled up and had a nap after dinner but were wakened by another meal , a snack of samosa and wonton (hot) and open turkey and mango sandwich (cold) with fruit and a drink - quite unnecessary at midnight of course. There seems to be a storm raging outside, lots of lightning, and a bit of turbulence inside, must be monsoon season. We were given a lovely gift of blue and white Delft china canal houses, filled with gin.

Drop Cap fter Singapore we slept a bit but had another large meal offered at 4 a.m., then snacks at 7.a.m. and breakfast at about midday (my watch is still on Australian time) far too much food -I just picked, settling for croissants and coffee for breakfast. Our personal video has on one of its channels a map of our route, like the ones on Qantas flights. It is quite interesting but seems to go at a snail's pace.

Friday, 28th April, 1995

Drop Cap rrived in Amsterdam and came down to earth with a vengeance. A 737 Airbus, much smaller and more cramped and bloody smokers puffing all the way behind us, even during the meal. We are thinking of writing to KLM, after all we booked months ago, non-smoking, and how can it be non-smoking if there is no differentiation between sections?

Drop Cap nyway, they flew to Rome via Zurich and the Alps were spectacular! Snowy peaks reached up through the clouds and tiny towns of tiny houses nestled in the villages in the valleys around the lakes. Lovely! The rest of the trip was cloud covered. We arrived in Rome to see a Polizia helicopter and armoured personnel carriers buzzing about the airport - never found out why. We picked up the bags and some small change and went to the tourist office to find my books had led me astray. It is possible now to get a train through to Termini, non-stop, so we bought tickets and got on. Unfortunately had to stand and my feet are killing me. Our hotel, Albergo San Giorgio, is very close, walking distance, to Termini, so, dodging the unlicenced taxi drivers, and porters, we dragged the bags and ourselves across the road. Not a particularly prepossessing area, or hotel, come to that, but I expect it will do. We have no choice anyway. Tomorrow I hope to see some of the sights I came here for but I am so tired that I will have to rest first.


Postcard Colosseum

Postcard of the Colosseum, Rome

Drop Cap ad a nap, then a shower and went out to explore for a restaurant for dinner. This is NOT a problem. The area is swarming with trattorias and pizza places and gelato bars. Had quite a good pasta and salad at one of them with a half bottle of white wine and expresso coffee, so small and so strong! Including service 12% and bread and cover it cost us L41,000. Sounds awful, but to put it in context, the train tickets this afternoon were L26,000. Home to wash a few things,(what we have been wearing for what seems like days) and so to bed. Mac is snoring already. I can't believe I'm in Rome, although there was an ancient arch just before Termini this afternoon which gave us a hint.

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Saturday , 29th April, 1995

Colosseum photograph

Interior of the Colosseum, Rome

Drop Cap lovely fine day, cloudless blue sky. After a good buffet breakfast this morning we set out intrepidly for the historic centre (centro storico) of Rome. We walked to Termini and bought BIGlietti giornalieri, good for the whole day, and caught the Metro to Colosseo. As soon as you walk out of the station there it is, looking older than time, the marble so weathered and grey, but still looking exactly the way you expect it to. Weaving our way between the touts selling postcards, slides, plaster Colosseums looking like sets of dentures, holy relics, sunglasses, film and horse and carriage rides, we went over it. The interior is somewhat less impressive than the outside. The false arena floor has gone, unsurprisingly, leaving exposed the piers and foundations of the undercroft. Apparently there used to be a hydraulic lift to bring animals etc. up into the arena. Fascinating. We will be seeing it again tomorrow on our guided tour.

Arch of Constantine photograph

Arch of Constantine, Rome

Arch of Constantine photograph

Mac at the Arch of Constantine, Rome

Drop Cap o, passing the Arch of Constantine, we headed for the Forum.

Colosseum photograph

The Colosseum from the Forum, Rome

Arch of Titus photograph

Arch of Titus in the Forum, Rome

Drop Cap t was very, very interesting, although in bits and pieces and broken columns. We saw temples (Saturn, Castor and Pollux, Vesta) the gardens of the House of the Vestal Virgins, The Rostri where Mark Antony, according to Shakespeare, buried but didn't praise Caesar, and the Senate where the fell deed was done.

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Drop Cap enying our aching feet we walked on to the Capitol, up the Pilgrim's Way past the statue of the She Wolf of Rome suckling Romulus and Remus and the Mamertine Prison (billed as the oldest prison in Italy) where Sts. Peter and Paul were imprisoned before their executions. The Michelangelo facades on the Capitol hill were being restored, but very impressive, so we walked down the Cordonata steps, designed by Michelangelo (a civilised man) a very easy descent to a very busy corner. (Actually the traffic wasn't too bad, you just have to be bold.)

Pantheon photograph

Postcard of the Pantheon

Drop Cap hen had a very expensive lunch for what it was in a sidewalk cafe before walking on to Piazza Rotunda to the Pantheon. This was the high point of the day! Even Mac was impressed.

Drop Cap he Pantheon glowed with light, all from the sun coming through the hole in the ceiling. The only artificial light came from altars and small spots illuminating some art works. It was really special and we saw the tombs of Raphael the artist, popes and kings. I heard a young boy say to his mother that he liked the light, pointing to the roof. We saw two cats crouched in the ruins outside, so Mac liked that too.

Elephant Obelisk photograph

Bernini's Elephant Obelisk, Piazza della Minerva, Rome

Drop Cap e walked on to the Trevi Fountain, feet seriously complaining by now. It was jampacked with touts and tourists and too big to photograph. Then we went on to Piazza di Spagna, through the Old City of Rome, to see the Spanish Steps. Another mob scene, but the spring show of azaleas was stunning. We have seen innumerable police cars and today truckloads of soldiers all converging on Spagna behind sirens. There seemed to be a demonstration of some kind going on but we missed it. Metro back from Spagna to Termini and home.

Drop Cap he only time all day I felt suspicious of anyone was a mumbling woman waving a paper, accompanied by a group of children ditto. The Frommer guide warns about gangs of gypsies who wave papers in your face to distract you while their mates pick your pockets. We were not distracted. Home with blistered toes (it ALWAYS happens). We meet our Tour Guide tonight.


Drop Cap ell, we met our Tour Manager, to give him his title, his name is Pino and he comes from Sardinia. I hope the rest of the tour is better organised. Apparently Rome is chockablock with pilgrims, demonstrators etc because it's May Day tomorrow. It means that everywhere will be chaos. He seemed nice, but flustered

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