Rome – The Eternal City

Our second destination in Italy was Rome. Besides all sights our main purpose to visit the eternal city was a wedding of Hazel’s university friend.

Again, we had booked our accommodation through www.airbnb.com and stayed with an Italian Lady and her son and their lovely white cat. They were the typical Italian hosts, where Mom tells the son how to do everything down to the last detail. The apartment was only a ten minute walk away from the Colosseum – all in all a perfect setting for our stay in the capital. This time we were lucky there was an elevator within the building, no more panting and huffing after a long day of sightseeing. In hindsight we should have checked first in Florence, living in Singapore, we have taken it for granted that all buildings come with elevators.

The afternoon we spent with exploring the area around the Colloseum and Circus Maximus. Rome feels like an open air museum. Nearly at every other corner you will run into an old ruin, pillar, monument and church. After a pizza for lunch we continued our exploration and visited the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II which was built to honour Victor Emmanuel (sounds logically, doesn’t it), the first king of a unified Italy. Built in 1885, it’s probably the most “smack-in-your-face” building in Rom (see pictures). One only wonders why former president and “bunga-bunga-king” Silvio Berlusconi didn’t manage to build one of these temples for its own – but Italian politics is a different story. The evening of our first day in Rome was reserved for a dinner with the to-be-married couple and some wedding guests.

The second day started with a nice breakfast prepared by our hosts. A home stay is really a nice thing to get into touch with locals and their culture. Our first stop was the Trevi Fountain, about another thousand other tourists were there too. Nevertheless we managed to take a few pictures. Threw  two coins into the fountain. First wish was the return to Rome again. Second wish was to wish for another thousand wishes J Later on we split up as the girls of the wedding decided to have a girls’ only shopping day. Men were only need to carry the shopping bags at the end of theday. Kevin was thankful that he had some time of his own and was not dragged into all of Rome’s handbag stores (all guys reading this will understand what I mean). So Kevin visited the Piazza del Popolo and enjoyed its reading time while Hazel fulfilled all the bag orders from her relatives back home (Kevin is still in shock about the number of bags bought) Hazel: Not that many lah! Can’t even fill up the whole suitcase, only half of it.

The next day was the wedding of Hazel’s friend. It was a very nice and very private wedding which everybody enjoyed a lot. Dinner was on a romantic rooftop of a boutique hotel. They served a mean piece of meat! The beef just melts in your mouth! It overlooked the sunset of Rome. Hazel shamelessly got the bride’s bouquet by asking for it.

Well rested we headed into the fourth day in Rome on which we wanted to see the Vatican. Again we were met by a steady stream of tourists on the way to the Holy Sea. However the queue to get into the Vatican was manageable and so we were in the center of the Catholic Church in less than a quarter of an hour.  The St. Peter’s Basilica is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s hard to describe its overwhelming size and richness of interior. Again we let the pictures speak for themselves.

In the afternoon we strolled through the city and stopped by a few more sights. One to mention is the Pantheon. The building is nearly two thousands year old and its dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. We were amazed by the architectural skills the people in olden Rome, structures were built to last an eternity.

After four days in Rome we explored outwards on a day trip to near-by Tivoli which is famous for its renaissance gardens. We visited Villa d’Este with its lush greenery and elaborate fountains where we spent a very relaxed and easy going afternoon.

Our last day in Rome was dedicated to more sightseeing and led us to a small hill which offered a superb view of the city and its impressive buildings. We spent the late afternoon on the Spanish Steps watching tourist clicking their cameras away and the illegal hawkers trying to sell their wares on the steps.

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