Rome - The city of seven hills

First part

My wife became fifty this summer. To celebrate we decided to take an autumn trip to Rome - The city of seven hills. All the autumn work at work was over and the contractors that were working in our backyard had finished their job. Therefore we could be completely relaxed and looked forward to our trip. Here is the story of the first part of the trip.
Shortly before the flight we received mail from Ryanair, the airline that was flying us between Brussels and Rome. The flights were canceled! To solve this we searched for an alternative flight long into the night. Finally we booked a flight with Brusseles air that was a lot more expensive than the canceled flight. Brusseles air must have taken the opportunity to add a flight to Rome into their schedule since Ryanair left their customers stranded. There is an Icelandic saying which says that you may expect a success if something begins with a failure. We hoped that this was true and drove to the airport 6 hours later. We left home a bit late. When in Kopavogur we realized that I had of course forgotten my phone so we turned around . Therefore we needed to speed up even further. At 50: 35 the flight with Wow air took of. The flight was delayed about XNUMX minutes but luckily there was a waiting between flights at the Brussels airport. We had to use the time to search and notify in lost and found that my bag was nowhere to be found. We flew from Belgium in an old-fashioned Airbus aircraft and landed smoothly at Fiumicino airport in Rome.

Watercolor we bought from some street artist.

The Trajan column rises 38,4 meters into the air, telling the story of the Trajan wars that were fought just after the year 100. At left is the Ulpia Basilica.

We were not meeting the Italians for the first time because in 1987 we got to know their hospitality. After two days of aquaintance I found the Italians to be untrustworthy, vain and even deceitful. Well I suppose it´s not fair to generalize about a 59 million people after only two days of aquaintance. Now, thirty years later me and my wife returned to Italy. Of course, I expect the worst. Still I was going to give the Romans change to change my views of Italians.

The trip started well. We were welcomed at Hotel Medici, which is close to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, from where we most often took the metro to the city center. The hotel stands by Via Flavia, a street named after emperors of the Flavia family. The emperors of this family were three. Their first was Vespasian who ruled for ten years from 69 after Christ to 79 after Christ. His son, Titus, is probably the best known of the three, although he only ruled for two years. The Titus Arch keeps his memory alive. The arch is still standing in Rome, reminiscent of Titus´s victory of Jerusalem when he was a commander during his father's rule. The two years of Titus´s rule were troublesome. Vesuvius erupted in 79 with disastrous concequences. The eruption was followed with a great fire in Rome. Titus was so upset by the critiques he faced after this events that he tried to commit suicide. He did not succeed but in 81 he got a fever that drove him to death. His younger brother Domitian took over. He ruled for 15 years and was popular among the people and the army, but the parliament caused him troubles. In the year 96 after Christ, he was murdered.

The church of Santa Maria degli Angeli is in an ancient house that originally housed Roman baths. In front of the church is one of the many fountains in Rome. The ruins of the baths are on the right side of the church.

At the front of the picture is a fountain that Bernini the older designed. The idea of the design came from an old saying which said that a sinking boat floaded exactly to this place in 16. century. On the right side of the stairs is the house which the romantic poet John Keats lived in and died in the year 1821. Today there is a museum dedicated to his memory in the house.

The Santa Maria degli Angeli church was close by the Medici hotel so it became our first destination. This church is one of over 900 churches in this ancient city. The Pope, Pius IV, was responsible for the construction of the church and asked Michelangelo to design it. Michelangelo was 86 years old so the church became his last work. The church was built on the ruins of the Diocletian Baths which were built by the Romans during the years 298 - 306 after Christ. In the garden where the baths are, I had a long and "meaningful" conversation with someone who works in the Lost and found service at Wow air. The service is probably located in India and the guy, obviously convinced of the excellence of his English, spoke so fast that I only heard a constant buzzing sound. I told him that if he wanted anyone to understand him he needed to slow down. He did and told me he had no idea were my luggage was.

The next destination was the Spanish steps, which are also not far from the hotel. They were built in the years 1723 - 1725. The steps were intended to be symbolic of the relationship of Spane and France, which owned the Trinità dei Monti church standing on the hill above the square below the steps. The square is called the Spanish square because there was a Spanish embassy there. During these years, the relationship between France and Spain was good. In the square below the steps is a beautiful fountain, Fontana della Barcaccia. One of many in the city. Bernini designed the fountain. Not the Bernini which is the most famous one. It was his father who designed this fountain. We walked up the 135 steps and back down. Then we headed for the shopping streets whichd lay from the square. We had to buy some necessities due to the loss of my luggage. When finished shopping we visited the Leonardo da Vinci museum at Populus Square. The museum was not so remarkable, but Leonardo da Vinci's was an incredible man. Probably, he was extremely eccentric he must be forgiven for that because of the incredible skills he possessed. Born in 1452 and dead 1519. He is known as a painter and two of the most famous paintings in the world are made by him. Mona Lisa and Last Supper. During his career he did not finish many painting. , He must have always been busy with all kinds of scientific exploration. He left a huge amount of sketches of devices and utilities after his death. Most of them were never built.

At the Leonardo Museum you can see Leonardos's designs made of wood, drawings of them and descriptions of their usefulness.

One of Leandros sketchbooks.

In the evening of this first day in Rome we got to know the famous Italian food culture. Famous, I say because my ideas about Italian food were completely opposite of my ideas of the Italians themselves. Well, the restaurant Taverna Flavia managed to change my ideas about the Italian food. We have visited many countries and the Italian food is the worst so far. To be fair I´m talking about the resturants, not the Italian cusine. Oh my, how bad this was. And to crown the shameful food the servants tried to cheat on us. The only thing that can be said as an excuse for this restaurant is that most of the restaurants in Rome we visited were just as bad.

Rome 7The Vatican has a huge collection of art. Including this bronze statue of Hercules. Bronze statues were common, but most of them were unfortunately melted and the metal used in weapons. The history of Europe is covered with wars.It´s Friday and ahead is one of the two highlights of the trip. The Vatican was once one of the most powerful institutions of Europe. In the year 1929, the Vatican was recognized as a special state and is the world's smallest state. There live 920 residents on almost half a square kilometer. In the middle of the Vatican is the largest church in the world, the Basilica of St. Peter. His grave is under the church. The building of the Church began in the fourth century after Christ and rebuilt on 16. century. Usually we ignore salesmen at such tourist places but this time we bought a supplement a full access ticket with guidance to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. Buing a guided tour turned out to be a good decision. After spending the morning in the Vatican, we strolled next to the castle of Saint Angelo. We spent quite a long time there just relaxing because we were a bit tired after the morning walk in the Vatican. Originally, the castle was built in the years 135 - 139 after Christ as a tomb of Roman emperor Hadriano and his family. Later, or around the year 410, the tomb was transformed into a fortress designed to protect the bridge that stands in front of the castle. In the year 1277, Nikulas III Pope made a 800 meter long tunnel from the Vatican to the fortress. The tunnel, Pasetto di Borgo was intended as an escape route for the popes and it did serve it´s purpose. For example, when Alexander Pope the sixth fled Charles VIII in 1494. Again, the tunnel came to good use in 1527 when Clement VII Pope had a flee when the emperor´s army of Charles V killed virtually all of the Swiss guard on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica. In the fourteenth century, the popes began to change the fortress into a castle and it was used as a residence for the Popes, later as a prison and today it is a museum. Unfortunately, we had enough historical information for the day in the visit to the Vatican so we did not visit the museum in the castle. We will do that if we return to Rome again.

From the castle of Saint Angelos we crossed the bridge of Saint Angelos and headed east towards Piazza Navona. The Navona square is a big and lively square. We continued to the east to the Panthenon Temple. We did not feel like waiting in the long queue to see inside the temple so we headed north to Piazza Colonna. That square is more remarkable than it seems. It is not significantly big but in the eighteenth century it was the main square in Rome. The reason were the residents in the palaces near the square. The important people in Rome lived there. At the center of the square is the Antoninus column, which was built in honor of the emperor Marcus Arelius. At the top of the column is a statue of Saint Peter. The statue was placed there at a later time. The column was built after Marcuse´s death around the year 180 after Christ. The column is coverd with a series of carved images of events related to two battles that Marcus participated in.