Roman Holiday

A couple of weekends ago, Naomi and I went to Rome. Ryanair were doing very cheap flights, so we booked one, and off we went. Flying with Ryanair is a bit like flying with IKEA – it’s very basic, cheap, and it’s all in blue and yellow. You don’t quite have to put the plane together with allen keys, but nearly.

We flew out on Saturday morning and returned on Tuesday morning, which gave us plenty of time to see everything interesting in Rome. After all, there’s the Colosseum, the Vatican – what else is there to see? Oh, all right, we weren’t actually trying to see everything interesting in Rome in just two and a half days. But we did see an enormous amount of stuff – resulting in very worn out legs and a lot of photographs (some of which I will post on the photo pages when I’ve finished sorting them out.)

My first observation of Rome, before we even got out of the plane, was that all the airport vehicles were Fiats. And when we were out of the airport, I noticed that there were a huge number of Fiats around. Not too surprising I guess, since they’re an Italian make. They were also mostly very small Fiats. And small Lancias. In fact, nearly all the cars were very small – which meant that the large number of minis out there looked like normal sized cars. (I know, the new ones are pretty much normals sized.) And at least fifty percent of the cars out there had scratches, dents or broken bits. I did see one spotless Aston Martin Vantage, but I don’t imagine it’ll stay that way for long.

I also noticed a large number of nuns and priests walking around the city, that there were recycling bins on nearly every street corner, and that the motorists were all crazy. Most of the mopeds don’t stop for you on a pedestrian crossing – they just swerve around you. Cars too, if there’s room. But after a while you get used to stepping out into traffic and letting everyone swerve around you.

The three places I enjoyed seeing the most were the Pantheon (not to be confused with the Parthenon, or Pantene. Which is pronounced Pan-teen in Canada), the Colosseum and the Vatican museum. I think I was most looking forward to seeing the Pantheon, and it was even more impressive in real life than I thought it would be. It’s quite amazing that a building with a forty-three metre dome would still be standing nearly two thousand years later.

On Sunday we went to the Vatican museum, and as it was the last Sunday of the month, it was free to get in. We started queueing an hour or so before the doors were due to open, and even then the queue was trailing down the road, round the corner, and round another corner. We got in an hour and three quarters later, and a bit later when I looked out the window there was still a queue going all the way back to where we started – so I was glad we started queueing early.

It’s a bit of a shame that the Sistine Chapel is one of the last things you get to see – as there are so many really impressively painted walls and ceilings before then that it’s almost a let down when you get to it. Almost, but not quite, because it’s still really amazing. It’s also a shame that they herd you through so quickly, so you don’t get a proper chance to enjoy it.

I’m sure there’s lots more I could say, but as is often the case, I’m writing this late at night and I’d rather go to bed.

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