Ciao Roma / Hello Rome

Following an overnight flight from Bangkok we arrived in Rome first thing in the morning. The crisp air in the sunshine was a welcome relief to South-East Asia hot temperatures. We waited 30 minutes for a bus downtown which dropped us within walking distance of our hotel, Le Meridien. A great location – about 2 minute walk to the Tiber River and only 2km to the Vatican. The rooms which had breakfast included were great value.

A quick breakfast and we are ready to explore ….

Smiling because it is 17 degrees (instead of 35) in the Sun along the banks of the Tiber

Piazza del Popolo

Walking around the city was our only plan for the first day. Not really sure which way to go as everything looks awesome we walked to the closest plaza on the tourist map. Piazza del Popolo (in modern Italian means ‘People’s Square’ but in latin in referred to the Poplars). It is a huge open square with a obelisk in the centre. To the west is a fountain featuring the god Neptune. To the east (below), according to wikipedia means, “Rome between the Tiber and the Aniene on the east side, against the steep slope of the Pincio, represents the terminal mostra of the aqueduct. Dea Roma armed with lance and helmet, and in front is the she-wolf feeding Romulus and Remus.”

Statues in Plazza Del Popolo
Augustus brought the Obelisk in the 10th Century BC to Rome where it was erected in the Circus Maximus. Rebuilt here in 1589 after pieces were found in 1587.

We carried on our walk moving upwards to the Plaza of Napoleon the first and travelled along the road past the Medici house to the St Trinita Dei Monti church. Surprisingly we decided to walk down the steps for no particular reason.

Spanish Steps

The steps were built in 1725 to connect the church to the Spanish Square below. The 138 steps became a popular place for artists who loved to draw and paint the area, which in turn attracted beautiful women who wanted to be models, which in turn attracted men looking to meet beautiful women and voila you have a popular meeting place! The poet, John Keats, lived beside the steps and his house is now a Museum. (source)

The view from the top of the Spanish Steps
Unknowingly walking down the Spanish Steps
A cool piece of art in a courtyard beside the Spanish steps
Taking a break from all the walking and enjoying the sunshine (A perfect fall day)
Cool Art
Four guys with nowhere to go
The view in Rome is spectacular
François-Auguste-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand – one of France’s first Romantic authors. An accomplished novelist, diplomat and had some meat named after him.
Pigeons are everywhere and not afraid. This guy got pretty close and was watching us.
Another Great View!

Trevi Fountain (source)

The fountain is 26.30 m high, 49.15 m wide and disperses 80,000 cubic meters of water daily. Work on the fountain commenced in 1732 by the authority of Pope Clemens XII and was finished thirty years later. The fountain is one end of the aqueduct system.

The aqueduct, was built by Agrippa around 19BC, to supply the thermal baths he built in the Campus Martius, by the Pantheon (21 km long of which 19 were underground).

In the middle is the statue of Ocean, 5.8 m high by Pietro Bracci. The body is muscular and majestic. In his right hand he holds a rod in act of command and his left hand holds a cloth around his pelvis to cover his nudity.

Ocean is atop his chariot. One horse is restless led by a young triton and the other horse is calm led by an older triton who carries a twisted shell that is using to announce their passage.

Ocean is also standing in the median portion of a tryumphal arch.

In the left part of the arch there is the statue of Abundance holding the horn of plenty.  In the righ portion there is the statue of Health, with a wreath of laurel and holding a cup which a snake drinks from.

bas-relief at the Trevi Fountain, Agrippa commands the construction of the aqueduct.
I had a strange urge to go to Rome which apparently has something to do with Heavy throwing a fistful of Francs into the Fountain in the hopes of returning to Rome – I am his proxy…see my Facebook page for details.
Colleen and Ben pose in front of the fountain
Three Italian models pose in front of the Fountain
Colleen takes a drink from the Fountain
The Tritons lead the Chariot of Ocean

The Theatre of Marcellus and the Gate of Octavia

After Julius Caesar defeated Pompey in the struggle for control over Rome, he wanted to build a theater rivaling the Pompey theater which Caesar’s his bitter enemy had built in 55 BC. In 22 BC Augustus, known as the emperor who turned Rome from a city of brick into a city of marble, restarted the project as it had stopped with the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. The theatre when completed in 11 BC the semi-circular theater was more than 30 meters (98ft) high. Its seating area, the cavea, had a diameter of 130 meters (426ft). The theater of Marcellus could accommodate more than 14,000 spectators, of whom 12,000 were seated. The design of the theater, with its multiple levels of arches supported by columns, was a model for the Colosseum, which was built decades later. (source)

Hannah outside the Theatre of Marcellus, built in 13 B.C. by Emperor Augustus and named for his intended heir.
Colleen and Emma outside a house that overlooks the Portico of Octavia (

Gelateria and Food

The Le Meridien in Rome has a great breakfast which we enjoyed all four mornings of our visit. We ate at Miss Pizza (turns out that trying to speak Italian is not so easy) but through perseverance we did it. Our real favourite was the Box Foodtruck which served cheap food that everyone could enjoy.  We supplemented the meals with food (and wine and beer) from a local grocery store. Of course, no trip to Rome would be complete without gelato.

An afternoon break to get Gelato – 3km of fuel
Fresh oranges from the local market

Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II

Victor Emmanuel II was the first King of a unified Italy in 1861 until he died in 1878. Giuseppe Sacconi from Le Marche won the contest to build the monument.

The focal point of the monument is the statue of Victor Emanuel II (1899).

Victor Emmanuel II, King of Unified Italy

Within the ornate building is the Altare della Patria, or the Altar of the Fatherland, which includes the tomb of an unknown soldier killed in the First World War.  Walking through the halls of the building are memorials to all fallen soldiers from the history of Italy including Afghanistan and Iraq. A fitting place for us to spend Remembrance Day 2017.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Flag atop the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Piazza del Campidoglio

Created by Renaissance artist and architect Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1536–1546 the area tops Capitoline Hill (one of the 7 hills of Rome) and thought to be invincible to ancient Romans. (source 1 & 2)

Cola di Rienzo – An Italian medieval politician and popular leader, tribune of the Roman people in the mid-14th century. source
The Palazzo Senatorio which has a female personification of Rome in the middle and two male representations of rivers (the Nile on the left and the Tiber on the Right). A model shoot is ongoing when I took this photo.
SPQR stands for Senātus Populusque Rōmānus in Latin (“The Roman Senate and People”, or more freely as “The Senate and People of Rome” restored these effigies of the Castors discovered upon the clearing of the rubble in the Theatre of Pompey and placed them in the capital – names of Magistrates – in the year of salvation 1583 (source)

The Palatine (source)

The Palatine is the most famous of Rome’s seven hills. In Ancient Rome it was considered one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in the city, and was the home of aristocrats and emperors. It was also believed to be the location of the Lupercal (the cave where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf).

Called the Hippodrome of Domitian it is not clear whether it was an arena for racing or a garden.  The addition of the modern art is a real detractor from the site.
Family shot with the Circus Maximus below
Domus Augustana – candid shot with Hannah with one of the few decorations
Domus Augustana – Ben and Colleen in one of the rooms
The Vatican in the distance
Looking down on Circus Maximus
The view from the Palatine with the Coliseum in the background
Lemons growing in the garden on the Palatine Hill
Palatine Hill

The Arch of Titus (source)

A Roman Triumphal Arch erected by Emperor Domitian in c. 81 CE at the foot of the Palatine hill to commemorate the victories of his father Vespasian and brother Titus in the Jewish War in Judaea (70-71 CE) when the great city of Jerusalem was sacked and the vast riches of its temple plundered.

Arch of Titus
The Plunder of Jerusalem
The procession of Titus

The Roman Coliseum (source)

Commissioned around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. In A.D. 80, Vespasian’s son Titus opened the Coliseum ( known as the Flavian Amphitheater) with 100 days of games, including gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights. After four centuries of active use, the magnificent arena fell into neglect becoming a source for building materials.  Today it is a major landmark and tourist attraction.

On the Palatine Hill looking towards the Coliseum
Hero shot in front of the Coliseum
Walking through the Palatine to get to the Coliseum
Inside the Coliseum
Ben and the Coliseum
Converted into a Christian theatre
Standing below the Coliseum
Hannah and Rob discuss the finer points of the Coliseum – it was big and Gladiators fought there
From the second floor of the Coliseum looking at the Arch of Constantine
Emma in the Coliseum
Sun sets in Rome and the bell tower fades to black
Bridge across the Tiber
Running and Bike paths along the Tiber – although I preferred to run up top to see the sights
Statue adorning one of the many bridges
Centrepiece at the Supreme Court
Bridge across the Tiber and morning traffic

The Pantheon (source)

The Pantheon is on the exact site of two earlier Pantheon buildings, one commissioned by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa (27-25 BCE) and the second by Domitian. The first was destroyed by fire in 80 CE and the second was struck by lightning in 110 CE and again burned down. The third Pantheon was probably begun in the reign of Trajan (98-117 CE) but not finally finished until around 125 CE when Hadrian was emperor.

Outside the Pantheon and a moment of levity
In front of the Pantheon
Roman Eagle in the Pantheon
Inside the Pantheon
Outside the Pantheon, an Italian military patrol watches the crowds
The splendour of the Pantheon

The Vatican

No trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to the Vatican which includes the Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica.  Security is quite a bit more evident compared to my last visit in 1991.  Military patrols with armoured vehicles are present at key intersections.

The Museum of the Vatican – the wealth of the Catholic Church

We spent a day dedicated to the Vatican. Well, dedicated Foster style as many of the people at our hotel were on a pilgrimage which is not quite our style. We got our tickets online and saved a bit of time with the line ups but this time of year is not that busy. We chose the audio guides and found that the child one is not in sync with the adult ones which created some confusion for Ben.  It was a worthwhile experience for all.

Ben enjoyed the kids audio-guide!
The Belvedere Torso (source)
Always Look Up as the paintings are spectacular!
Heracles (source)
Ceiling panel
La Galleria delle Carte Geografiche (source)
Didn’t I say look up?
Stairs of the Museum
St Peter’s Square
Michelangelo’s Pieta, the only work to which he signed his name (source)
Statue of St Peter in the Basilica
St Peter’s Basilica
The Altar for the Pope, St Peter’s Basilica
Statue in the doorway of St Peter’s Basilica
The balcony where the Pope provides Mass to St Peter’s Square
Statue of St Paul. His statue carries a sword as a reference to how he was killed (source)
A Statue of St Peter carrying the keys to Rome (source)
Standing in the square of St Peter’s Basilica
St Peter’s Basilica


Our trip to Rome was too short. You  need weeks to really enjoy the splendour and history. Oh well, a short train ride and we are in Firenze! Leave a comment with your thoughts or memories of Rome.

Ciao, Roberto!

3 Replies to “Ciao Roma / Hello Rome”

  1. Great City. I agree it would take weeks to get to see everything. I liked the palatine. I stood where julius cesar stood. I did read his Gallic wars which was an interesting read. We get a glimpse into Celtic society from that book. Did you try the underground at the colosseum? A long way down.
    Did the Pope come out and say hello? For some reason he didn’t come out a greet me. I was surprised by that but maybee his secretary got the dates mixed up.

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