September 20, 2010

A Whirlwind in Europe - Rome (Day 6)

Rome was a city where I could be comfortably got lost in her streets. In fact, so much more was discovered because I intentionally decided to explore streets that were not on the itinerary.

Having taken a morning flight from Santorini to Rome, the last thing a wary traveler would want is a long train ride. Thankfully, the rapid train from the airport to Rome’s Termini station was fast and comfortable. It was very impressive.

It was 12pm when the luggage was dropped off at the Alessandro Palace Hostel and Bar. My day was originally planned to start at Barberini Station, but two extra stops later, I got off at Flaminio and walked into Piazza del Popolo with its impressive fountains…

…and Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Basilica Di Santa Maria In Montesanto.

Walking down Via del Corso, the magnificent Basilica dei Santi Ambrogio e Carlo al Corso was on the west side of the street…

…while a few blocks to the east sat Chiesa di Santa Maria in Via.

So much of religion, art and history was squeezed into Rome that everywhere you looked, you would find something astonishing, including the heavily engraved Colonna di Marco Aurelio…

…which lead to the Palazzo di Montecitorio and Camera dei Deputati.

The streets of Rome are narrow with all kinds of surprising turns. However, you would only need to follow the crowd to find the Pantheon (under repair).

Not too far away was Piazza Navona, the most magnificent piazza I encountered on my visit to Rome.

There were three fountains in the piazza, but most tourists were drawn to Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi.

No doubt it deserves the fame, but the other two fountains in the piazza deserves some appreciation as well.

Unfortunately, the front entrance of Basillica di Sant’Andrea della Valle was under repair. However, the little mentioned Chiesa del Gesù was also very beautiful.

At 2pm, it was time for a late lunch. There was a small café on the street corner serving panini and gelati. For 5 euros, you could get a salami and spinach panini and a hazelnut gelati. It's considered pretty cheap eats in Rome.

Having satisfied the taste buds and reengerized the body, I walked down some streets to find the fantastic domes of Chiesa di Santa Maria di Loreto and Chiesa Non Parrocchiale Ss. Nome Di Maria.

Within the same 360 degree sight was the majestic Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II.

Paid my respect at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Just a minute walk away, the history of ancient Rome sprung up from the ground.

Foro Romano

Couple of Italian young ladies complimented the picture nicely.

View from the Palatine

While looking for a good spot to photograph the Colosseo, I ventured into Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana.

The intricate ceiling.

This isn’t the greatest photo of Arco di Costantino, but given the time of day and the direction of the shadow, it was the best I could manage.

Typical photo of the Colosseo

I have purchased online tickets to Foro Romano and Colosseo. It was a good decision since there was a 30min line for the ticket office.

Inside the ground level of the Colosseo

On the first level, there were an incredible number of displays detailing the artifacts found at the Colosseo with ample explanation of the histories and secular societies that existed in the Colosseo.

Replica gladiator armour (I wish I had room to share them all)

The ruins of the spectator stands…

…and the labyrinth under the arena where gladiators and animals were housed before the events.

By the time I exited the Colosseo, it was 6pm and the sun was about to set. I tried to take some evening shots of the Colosseo but it was the only day I forgot to bring my tripod. None of the picture were satisfactory :(. However the street architecture shot was rather pleasing.

Heading back to the hostel, I got a little lost again…but found this little pizzeria for dinner. Pizza is sold by weight in Italy. This was about 1 pound of pizza for 5 euros.

Rome was my favourite city (as evident by the number of photographs here). Art, history and culture are concentrated into a relatively small area with most highlight attractions within walking distance from each other. It is no surprise that Europeans ooze high-end style when they are immersed in an environment so full of beauty.

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