When in Rome….

Posted by barb on Mar 22, 2006 in Travels |

Civitavecchia - our first port

I didn’t sleep well for the first half of the night — I woke up every half-hour or so. There were weird noises, the bed was rocking, the light from the porthole, all contributed to my odd sleep. Around midnight, I got up to look out the porthole and saw some specks of light moving quickly through the air – birds of some sort. for a few moments I thought I saw the lights of a city off in the distance, perhaps an island or the coast. Then those “lights” broke up and flew off. I crawled back into bed and slept until 6AM after that.

We docked in Civitavecchia, Italy, shortly after 6AM – perhaps the manuevers into port woke me…or the rising sun. After a quick breakfast in our room, we were off to our first shore excursion: classical Rome. Rome was an hour and a half bus trip from Civitavecchia. Our first adventure came with our “pee-pee” stop at a gas station on the way – toilets with no seats. Fun, fun.

Smart Car

The reputation of Rome traffic (or “circulation”, as our tour guide would say) is well deserved! I sat by the window, so I got to see every close encounter and crazy move of cars on the bus’ left side. Yikes! Our driver must have nerves of steal to navigate that city, in a bus, not less. Parking was a premium, too, so many people had small cars, like the SmartCar in the picture.

Window with shutters

The details of our trip are already fading – we saw so much from the bus and on foot in so little time that there was no way to process it all. As we drove into town, I o remember the frist thing we glimpsed was the basillica of St. Peter and St. Paul. From there we wound around to a facist-style train station where we picked up a local Rome tour guide, Adele. We took a spin around the city, seeing the gate, a pyramid, lemon and orange trees, and so many other things.

We finally got off the bus up the road from the Colosseum. We walked down, stopping at the Arch of Constantine. We got accosted by a few street vendors, but deftly side-stepped them. We took some time to look at the Colosseum, but had not the time to go inside (sigh).

From there we walked inot the Roman Forum, where we saw a Roman kitten along the way. We saw so much there, and heard so much history from our Rome guide, that there was no way to take it all in. I remember that we started at the Arch of Titus, taking in the reliefs inside the arch. From there we walked down to the Temple of Romulus and the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. During our scant 15 minutes of free time, Andrew and I walked down to the Arch of Septimius Severus, and took pictures of the remaining columns of the Temple of Saturn and the Temple of Vespasian and Titus.

Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum   Roman Cat

Ruins in the Roman Forum

There were lots and lots of people in the forum, but despite the crowds, I tried to drink it all in. I loved the random ruins that were strewn about. It would have been great to have seen the forum in its full glory.

On our way back to the bus, we passed the Colosseum again. Our guide pointed out that from this different angle we could see walls that were still complete. Near the Arch of Constantine, some of the walls were missing from an earthquake (in around the 1300s).

St. Peter's Basilica

After lunch, we made our way to the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica. Apparently Wednesday is a bad day to visit the Vatican, as there is some kind of service Wednesday mornings, so there are many more people than usual visiting. We waited for about half an hour in line to get through security to go into the basilica. The “little old lady” in front of me in line (and on our tour) got bonked in the head with the end of a signpost that the guard was jokingly putting through the X-ray scanner. This caused a bit of a hubbub, but the lady was okay, and I finally got through.

St. Peter's Square_2

The steps to the Basilica were jammed with people, but our local guide told us to folower her “one by one” up the side, squeezing by the waiting people. At one point (oh, did I mention that we had headsets on at this point, since the guide is not allowed to talk loudly in the Basilica?), we heard Adele fighting with some guy in line. I couldn’t understand what they were saying to each other, but I would not have wanted to be on the recieving end of Adele’s tirade! When we reached the top, Adele explained that the people were actually waiting to get into the tombs, but we were going straight to the Basilica, so we weren’t actually cutting in line.

Grate on the floor of St. Peter's

I’m not exactly enthused to visit Catholic churches – the decorations are certainly beautiful, taken one by one, but are just overwhelming to the point of gaudy in most of the famous churches. We were allowed to take pictures, since the original paintings had all be replaced by mosaics. We walked around a bit, and Adele pointed out stuff, but I didn’t pay very close attention. Finally Adele led us out of the Basilica, and out of the Vatican, to the Vatican gift shop across the street. I finally got a Diet Coke (aaaah), some post cards, and some Italian oreo-like cookies to snack on later. It started raining a bit by then, but our day was just about at an end.

The ride back to the ship was uneventful, though we did get a lesson in Italian politics from Ilary, our Costa guide. The rain picked up a little, making pictures of the landscape difficult, so we just watched the scenery go by.

Check out all of my pictures from the day at my Flickr Rome Excursion Photoset.


1 Comment

Apr 7, 2006 at 9:08 am

Sounds like a fun day – and can you imagine driving one of those SmartCars on the Beltway? You’d get smooshed! But they are cute!


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