Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 5 - Rome, Classic Rome Walking Tour

The pictures I've been posting are the low-resolution versions of what I actually took so I don't kill the blog. The big guys are located here for Day 5:

We began the day with the free hotel breakfast and a walking tour of Classic Rome. Our tour guide Armando, picked us up at our hotel and a driver took us to Piazza Navona to start the tour. We walked through the piazza, Armando showing us the three fountains, the Brazilian Embassy, and telling us that the the Piazza was built in the shape of the stadium that had been in the same spot and used for races and sport. The central fountain included great rivers of the continents: Nile (Africa), Ganges (Asia, India), Danube (Europe, Germany), and Rio de la Plata (South America).

Church of Saint Ignacio, where we saw paintings by Carvaccio (sp?), who painted dark and moody paintings and had to flee rome after killing his friend during a tennis match. He didn't do this ceiling, but I thought it was pretty.
These plaques on the wall of a church show how high the Tiber had flooded in the past.
The Pantheon, which is built to be earthquake-proof. The dome was completed in one pour and is one giant piece of concrete, melded to the walls. Thus the building is like a glass set on a table during an earthquake; the whole thing moves. In this building Rafael and the first and second presidents of unified Italy were entombed

Churches so numerous, that I don't even know where we were half the time!

This church was painted with a fake dome, and was so realistic that the real dome was never put in.

Me, doing as the Romans do (pose hilariously for photos... somehow I still don't look as funny as they do when they strike a pose!

Trevi fountain (tossing coins over our shoulder so that we would have to come back to Rome). The plaza it was in was very small and the fountain took up much of it. What small space was available was crowded with tourists of every language and country, taking pictures and excitedly throwing coins.

The Spanish steps, which had a “sinking boat” statue in the road in front of it, made to seem as if it was lower than the road and thus, sinking

We also saw several Egyptian obselisks, brought from Alexandria in Roman times with an age of about 3500 years. One was placed on top of an elephant and the artist who made the elephant positioned the butt of the elephant towards a nearby monastery who had complained about the statue!

The shopping area trident of three streets together and the adjacent artist area with museums and artist community. These three streets jutted off from the Piazza del Popolo.
The tomb of Caesar Augustus (which was the Caesar who required a taxation and census which brought Mary and Joseph to Jesus’ birthplace)

We also saw:
  • Helical column that told of Marcus Aurelius’ adventures
  • The Italian senate and parliament buildings
  • House of the prime minister
  • Roman stock exchange where massive Roman/Corinthian columns were incorporated into a newer building.
Armando also showed us multiple times how the buildings from ancient roman times were a good 20-30 feet (and at times as much as 45 feet) lower than current street level. This is because when old buildings were razed, they were usually just filled in and the new buildings are built on top of the rubble. So over time, the street level gets higher and higher.
After a four hour walking tour (thank goodness Armando walked slower than Silvio) in the sun, we were pretty beat and Armando pointed us toward a local restaurant for lunch, named ‘Gusto (near the tomb of Caesar Augustus). The place had a buffet (or boo-fet, as Armando said) of multiple mixed salads or you could get pizza. Mike opted for the pizza of course, and the parents and I wolfed down marinated veggies, friend rice, meat, and mixed salads. The bread was good, and we decided that we should first try the bread at any location and THEN decide if we were staying for the meal as our litmus test!! After Gusto, we decided to head back to the hotel b.c we were hot and sweaty from all the walking.
We opted for a quick nap which turned into a massive nap, making it too late to see the Colosseum and the Forum this day. We finally dragged ourselves from bed and headed out to dinner, at a place near Piazza Navona called L’Orso 80, recommended on Frommers and by an online forum we consulted. Dinner was good and although we didn’t know enough Italian to score some risotto balls, we had wine, appetizers (marinated veggies, meat, and cheese), and entrees. After dinner we walked through Piazza Navona, which was a much different sight than at 9AM. All the restaurants had sidewalk seating out, there were street artists and vendors, and crowds of people. A girl we saw later at our hotel almost got ran over by a horse, and I saw a kid in an Ohio State tshirt. Mike dared me to say O-H, which I did, and the kid whipped his head around looking surprised and responded with I-O! Always fun to horse around with Midwest peeps.We grabbed a cab home to reserve our feet for the next day, and hit the hay.


Gayle said...