When I arranged to meet up with Vanessa on 7 May for a weekend in Rome, I had some worry that the volcanic ash might cause delays to her flight from Gatwick in the UK and no concern at all about my flight from Tripoli, Libya, to Rome. In the event, Tripoli airport was closed all day on Friday 7 May due to a sandstorm and I didn’t arrive at our hotel until the late morning on Saturday 8 May some 18 hours later than planned!
Our hotel was on Via Labicana, only a short walk from the Colosseum.
Saturday 8 May 2010
We began our sightseeing with a walking tour along the River Tiber, first stopping for a coffee on Isola Tiberina.
Wandering through the quiet streets and squares of the Trastavere district we found a wide selection of restaurants. The restaurant we chose for lunch quickly filled up and even had a queue of customers waiting for tables. Lunch in the sunshine was very relaxing and set us up for the remainder of the afternoon.
We next headed up the Janiculum (Hill) passing the impressive Fontana dell’Acqua Paola to Piazza Guiseppe Garibaldi, where there is a monument to the hero of South American and Italian independence struggles. The Janiculum on the west bank of the Tiber provides some of the best views of Rome.
From the Janiculum we headed north to the Vatican, where the queues for entrance to St Peter’s Basilica were so immense that we decided to move on returning to the east bank of the Tiber. Vanessa was keen to visit the Pantheon, one of the best preserved Roman buildings, but unfortunately it was only possible to peep through the door.
After a coffee, we visited the Trevi Fountain, which was surrounded by dense crowds of tourists, before returning to the hotel. I must admit I was fairly footsore as we’d walked around 15km!
Dinner was in a local restaurant with a nice carafe of their house red wine.
Sunday 9 May 2010
Our principal objective for day was to tour ancient Rome. After taking an early breakfast, we were at the Colosseum shortly after it opened in order to avoid the worst of the queues. There was quite a lot of interesting historical material on display which we viewed before going out into the stadium.
We next headed for the Palatine Hill, which gave an escape from the crowds and an opportunity to walk through the historic remains in the shade of trees on a bright sunny day. The hill stands above the ancient Forum, which is laid out below.
Lunch was at a streetside table in the sunshine. Vanessa then set off to find some souvenirs and do some further exploration before we met up again for dinner in a local restaurant.
Monday 10 May 2010
Having taken the Metro to Piazza del Popolo, we found the police rehearsing for a parade. We then wandered through the park, found the remnants of a ‘cow parade’ by the Porta Pincinia in the Aurelian Walls, and visited the Spanish Steps.
In the afternoon we headed to the airport for our flights home.