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                               ROME,  ITALY

June 28

After discounting the option of staying at the expensive Marina Porto Turistico di Roma we joined "Beyond" up the Fiumicino Canal and side tied to the wall. We arrived before the scheduled bridge opening time and rafted to a dive boat waiting to get through. The bridge opened 1/2 hour early so we were glad we were ready. The area of canal between the footbridge and the traffic bridge was almost entirely empty, no other cruising boats...should have given us a clue! We settled in and no one visited us, however, it was Saturday. I did a super shop at a nearby large supermarket, the best prices and variety I have seen so far in Italy.

The area in the canal looked a little industrial but seemed very safe and nobody bothered us. We walked across the footbridge and took the Cotral bus to Metro Stazione, then the train into Rome. In Italy you must prebuy your bus tickets. These are sold at seedy little tobacconists, the proprietor hiding behind the counter peering through a small cleared space surrounded by of smoking paraphernalia, games, magazines, and candy. Sometimes it is difficult to find a tobacconist or at least, one that is open, but generally the bus driver will not sell you a ticket on board.


Vatican City

Our first sight when we stepped off the train was Vatican City. Vatican City is actually its own country, being the smallest in the world. Visiting the area soon makes you realize what the Catholic Church was all about. Definitely not to help the poor people!

The large public square around the Basilica, St Peter's Square could hold 300,000 people no problem.

 

140 statues of saints atop the Colonade have their head exaggerated in size so you can see them better from so far below.

The  Basilica of Saint Peter was free to enter and the Pope was making an appearance the day we were there so there were thousands of people. But we had a good look inside the Church, the best known, largest and one of the holiest sites of Christendom.

The structure is essentially Renaissance and baroque and is rich in art. Elaborate ceilings, carvings, paintings and monuments adorn the inside of the enormous Basilica.

photos:

left - Papal monument of Saint

center -Monumental canopy covering the shrine of St. Peter

right - View of Michelangelo's dome


Sistine Chapel/Museum
The day we visited was the last Sunday of the month, which is free, so it was very crowded. We stood in a line up that was about .5 km long  down the block around the Vatican walls from St. Peter's Square to Sistine Chapel. It took around 1 hour to be shuffled butt to butt through the museum, rooms of picture galleries housing paintings from 11th to 19 centuries, and lastly to the famous Chapel.

The Dome of the Sistine Chapel was the grand finale, the greatest culmination of Michelangelo's art, the magnificent ceiling where Michelangelo laboured for 4 years over the epic painting, now restored to its original glory. It took a while to spot the Hand of God giving life to Adam which everyone is familiar with.

 

 

We walked across the Sant' Angelo bridge, past the Castel Sant Angelo

 

In Piazza Navona, The Trevi Fountain, inspired by Roman triumphal arches, is the largest and most famous Baroque fountain in Rome standing 25.9 meters high.

It was an interesting walk through the old town to Piazzo Navona square with amazing fountains. Rome’s love affair with fountains goes back to antiquity when they were seen as a reflection of the generosity associated with papal families.

Next we walked to Capital Hill and climbed the ancient marble staircase which overlooks the Forum and Palatine Hill.

 Capitol Hill nowadays hosts the Municipality of Rome

Pantheon

The Pantheon is the burial place of several important Italians (including the artist Raphael), and it remains an active church.

Interestingly, there are no windows in the Pantheon,
only an open hole in the ceiling and a water catchment system in the floor.

The Roman Forum

was the central area of the city around which ancient Rome developed. Here was where commerce, business, prostitution, cult and the administration of justice took place. Today there is not much left of the Roman Forum so you have to use your imagination.

The Coliseum is an elliptical amphitheatre, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. One of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering, its construction started between 70 and 72 AD and was completed in 80 AD. Originally capable of seating around 50,000 spectators, the Coliseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. It remained in use for nearly 500 years.

The Coliseum

It had been a very full day and we had put on many many miles and our feet had reached their maximum capacity for any more walking. So we headed back to the boat, satisfied that we had been sufficiently introduced to Rome.

John & Wendy (Beyond) & Gord take a break

Arch of Constantine

On our way to the train station, we stopped at a colorful fruit stand.


June 29

Monday morning very early, the Coastguard politely asked us to leave when the bridge opened at 8pm. Although there was 1/4 mile of empty wall on either side of the canal, we were told it needed to be kept clear for "emergency." They told us we had to go into the Marina that is just before the footbridge (sea side) but on investigation we found that not only was the charge 40 Euros for 11 meters, but the depth of the marina is less than 1.5 meters in places due to old mooring blocks scattered around the marina basin. Even the fuel dock is too shallow. We had jerry jugged fuel from there at 1.13 Euro/litre. We were told not to tie up anywhere in the canal, between the bridges or outside of them.

We discovered that there was another option, a boatyard past the second bridge and down the river about a mile. We walked along the canal to check it out but we found it to be derelict, dirty and would be charged 20 Euros to raft 3 deep to a rickety rotting dock (not much possibility of power or water). Since the bridge would not open again for 3 days (it doesn't open on Tuesday or Wednesday) we did not want to stay there that long so we just headed back out to sea when the bridge opened at 8pm, bound for Sardinia.

We considered ourselves lucky that we were able to stay in the Canal long enough to see Rome, albeit a whirlwind tour!


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