Saturday, December 17, 2016


Another early start....
6am wake up call, bags needed to be outside our door by 6.45am, as they had to be transported separately to us back to the mainland and the bus.

 We were a little later getting away that Gary had planned due to the heavy rain, and us all having to catch water taxi's to take us back to the mainland where our bus was.    Good thing that it was a bus travel day and not the previous day when we were doing a lot of walking around Venice.  Still I am not complaining,  we have had brilliant weather so far this trip.

No off the motorway today so no pretty sightseeing as Gary wanted to get us to Rome as quickly as possible as there is so much to do and see there.   We had two stops on the way, the first for half an hour and the second one for lunch for about 45minutes at a random service station.  We did see quite  a few fortresses high on hills on our drive today.  Lots of tunnels through the mountains.   You don't wind around mountains in Europe,  they just seem to tunnel straight through them,  not like Australia, and especially not like Tasmania.

 We arrived at our hotel around 4pm.  We had time only for a quick shower so we could sort our washing out and have it back in the lobby ready for the laundry guy to collect.  Gary arranged for us to all have our washing done with a laundry that picked up and delivered and all it cost us was $20, which was a bit of a bargain, considering we had a bit bag full.  The hotels had charges like 5 Euro just to wash a hankerchief or a bra....

We also had to meet Gary in the lobby at 5pm to start our Piazzas and Fountain tour of Rome.  Our hotel in Rome was the Kolbe Hotel - it was sort of a boutique hotel, once an old monastery now converted into a hotel. Our room opened out onto a lovey out door terraced area.  The rooms are faily plain, not as fancy as most of the other hotels we have stayed in and they could certainly do with a make over... One thing we have noticed about hotels in Italy, is that they offer no tea or coffee making facilities in your rooms,  you have to go down to the restaurant and order one.  A little disappointing as we always enjoy a nice cuppa before going to bed.  
 We met in the lobby and took off in our coach to go on our tour.  Initially we drove around looking at the ruins of Rome, the Forum, the old public baths and some other interesting buildings.
 We also drove past "Altana della Patria" (Alter of the Fatherland).  It was a monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first King of unified Italy.  It features stairways, Corinthian columns, fountainsand equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel and 2 statues of the goddess Victoria riding on quadregas.  The Italians themselves don't like this monument, they think it is really ugly and lacks finesse and have labelled it "The Wedding Cake".

 We left the bus after this and went on a walking tour, first heading to the Roman Ghetto which was a Jewish Ghetto established in 1555.  From here we moved into a Renaissance area.
 We walked down a lane that was mainly for Catholic priests where they could purchase anything they wanted for their role as a priest.
 We walked past some Roman Ruins also,  this whole city is built on ancient ruins.  In fact that is the main reason that there is no Metro in Rome, because it would destroy a lot of the ruins that are buried under this amazing city.

This led us onto the Pantheon.  What an AMAZING building.  The building was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the Reign of Augustus (27BC - 14AD).  The present building was completed by the Emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126AD.  The building is still in its original condition, and is circular with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns. (8 in the front rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment.  A rectangular vestibule links the porch to the rotunda, which is under a coffee coloured dome with a central opening to the sky.  Almost 2000 years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome.

 It is also one of the best reserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, in large part because it has had continuous use throughout it's history, and since the 7th Century, the Pantheon has been used as a church dedicated to "St Mary and the Martyrs".  It was pretty amazing and impressive to stand inside under that huge dome.

 From here we continued our walk to the "Fontana dei Quallro Fuimi (Fountain of the Four Rivers).  This fountain is situated  in the Piazza  Navona in Rome.  It was designed in 1651.  The base of the fountain is a basin from the centre of which travertine rocks rise to support four river gods and about them an ancient Egyptian obelisk surrounded with the Pamphilli family emblem of a dove with an olive twig.  Collectively they represent four major rivers of 4 continents through which the papal authority had spread, the Nile representing Africa,  the Danube representing Europe, the Ganges representing Asia, the Rio de la Platio representing the Americas.

 This ended our walking tour, and those going out for dinner stayed on and the bus collected both Alan and Marilyn and Steve and I and took us back to our hotel. 

From the hotel we freshened up and then went for a little walk around our neighbourhood and found a lovely little cafe to enjoy dinner at.  Our main meal was a Carbonarna with Pesto sauce, bacon and pistachio nuts.  It was lovely, I might try and replicate it when I get home. 


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