When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!


Rome, the eternal city.  Founded by Romulus and Remus a long time ago.  They were suckled by a she wolf, but I don't know why.  Later, like Cain and Abel, Romulus killed Remus and founded the city in 753 BC (back in the Etruscan days, the Roman Republic came in 509 BC).  

Rome has some graffiti, but a lot less than Naples.  And the drivers are much better.  Not as good as those up north in the Sudtirol and Germany but much better than Naples.  We arrived at our chosen campground before noon after having left Pompeii before nine.  We came in from the east and took the ring road around Rome to the west side, found our exit, headed toward downtown and drove right past the campground.  So we turned around at an intersection, where the driver's reminded us of Naples, and went back and checked in.  We took a cabin again, it is still promising rain intermittently and we will be here for a week.  There is a lot to see.

I was told in my history and Latin classes in high school that Rome was built on seven hills.  I had always visualized Rome as an Italian San Francisco.  It is actually quite flat, with hills not much more than a hundred feet high (30 m.).  The famous Palatine Hill is probably not much over 60 feet high.

The first day we are off to see the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.  There are a huge number of statues, busts, frescoes, mosaics, pottery, tapestries, paintings and other works of art.  The popes have been collecting it for many, many years.  Some was taken from conquered places, some dug up from historical sites and much donated to or bought by the church.  The works from the Renaissance are some of the best in the world.  Works by the masters of the time like Michelangelo.  Much of this art work is in of people in the nude.  One interesting thing I noticed is that many of the statues and busts have had their noses busted off, both the men and women (we saw this in Naples too).  And most of the men have had their penises broken off.  Some noses have been repaired, but a lot of penises now have had a stone fig leaf added to hide them (which we didn't see in Naples).  I don't know if it was to hide that the statue was broken or to provide a later society with the modesty they felt necessary, but I think it was the latter reason.  








There were hundreds of statues from everywhere and floors of mosaics removed from Roman sites like Pompeii.









The walls and ceilings were covered with frescoes.

The Sistine chapel is stupendous, but no pictures were allowed in there.  The famous frescoes painted on the ceiling by Michelangelo were not the only ones to admire. He also painted one end wall depicting "Judgment Day".   The side walls were covered by frescoes by others as good as he was, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Pinturicchio and others.

It took us about 5 hours to see everything.  From there we walked around to the piazza by front door of St. Peter's to visit the Basilica.  The line to get in stretched from the entry all the way around the piazza, and it is a big piazza!  So we went wandering elsewhere and then returned to the campground.

The next day the sun was out and we rode the bike to the town of Tivoli to see a couple of villas.  The first was Villa Adriana and was built for Hadrian in the years 118-134 AD.  (He's the same guy who had the Hadrian's Wall built that we had visited while in England.)  This picture is of a model of the villa.  It is more like a small city than a country villa.  The building in the foreground is not a stadium, but a reflecting pool, that's nearly as large as a stadium, and it has a colonnaded shaded area around the sides.  It is one of three in the villa, this is the largest one.

He built this villa as a mountain retreat while he was building himself a palace inside Rome.

The middle sized pool still had some columns and statues around it.

The smallest pool was round and had an island in it, with its own little villa on the island.  Sort of a private get-away space in his public get-away place in the hills.







That afternoon we went to the Villa d'Este, also in Tivoli.  It is a medieval villa of a Viceroy of the church.  It had been a convent but Ippolito d'Este liked the site and turned it into his retreat in the hills.  The house isn't much (by Roman palace criterion) but the gardens are full of several huge fountains.










And hundreds of little ones.  This is all powered by gravity, no pumps.  A river was diverted to supply it with water.

This took the day and we headed back the 30 km. to Rome.  Our campground is on the west side and Tivoli is to the east but we took the ring road rather than fight the city traffic.  After driving in the Naples area and in Guadalajara, Mexico we could have done it without problems, but it was easier to go around.  Rome is famous for its bad drivers, and they are not very good by our standards, but they have nothing on Naples and are about equal with Mexico.



The third day was a day of rest, we relaxed, did the laundry and some grocery shopping and then had dinner out.  I worked on the computer updating web pages to send to our ISP when we get out of Italy.  (Our Internet Service Provider [ISP] thinks that a virus may hitch-hike on files I send from certain parts of the world and will not let me update the web pages from those places.  Italy is one of those places.)  And Kathy worked on a cross-stitch pattern for our friends in England.

The fourth day we went to the forum and the Coliseum.  This was the heart of the Roman government and entertainment.








The forum was a group of government buildings and temples at the base of the Palatine hill, where a lot of the ruling class lived.  The remains today are shown above looking along the main axis of the area.  The Palatine Hill is in the background on the right.  The Coliseum is straight ahead but out of sight.

The Coliseum was in some ways a disappointment.  We have heard about it, seen pictures, studied it during high school history classes and generally there was no new information or sights.  We rented the audioguides (cell phone like gadgets that by entering a number found on a nearby sign will give you additional information) but they were very minimal in their recorded information, and were expensive.  We've had much better deals elsewhere.















Then we went up the Palatine Hill and looked at the Circo Massimo, the huge race track for chariots.  It's the long depression behind the first row of trees.  Today people use it for a jogging track.








Then there were the ruins of multi-story Roman "McMansions".  If you were a somebody in Rome you had your town house here (you also had a villa in the country).  This is the atrium and pond area on one of them.  The racetrack is to my right.  There was a great view from the balcony back then.






Day five we went to the Baths of Caracalla.  Built by the Emperor Caracalla to cleanse his people, 1600 at a time.  In Roman times bathing was a social event and took hours with the various pools (hot, medium and cold) to soak in, a massage, and a meeting with your business associates.






This was a huge complex.  The building was the size of a football field with additional space around it to exercise in that had fountains and colonnaded shade areas.  The hot room was between the two towers and there was an Olympic size cool pool beyond it.

After the Baths we walked out the Via Appia Antica.  The famous Appian Way that was the main road down the boot of Italy.  In my Latin class's study book there was a picture of the old Appian Way with its original stone paving slabs and the tall trees lining it.  I flunked out of Latin in one semester but I remembered the picture.  I'd always wanted to go see it myself.  Well teacher, I finally made it here, but I still don't know any Latin!





Day six was fountain day.  We saw little fountains like this "Turtle Fountain" (it had four turtles climbing over the rim into it.).




















And large fountains like Tivoli.










And yes we each threw a coin into it thus insuring our return to Rome someday.




















Day seven was started early, we are headed to St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City.  This is the place that had the huge line all the way around the piazza when we visited the Vatican Museums on the first day.  We want to make sure we get in without too much of a wait.  It worked, we walked right in without any wait, other than getting thru the metal detectors.  We spent about an hour here.


This place is huge and so over-decorated it is gaudy.  At the far end of this main room is the covered pulpit where the pope preaches.  You can barely see the dark colored brass posts and canopy from here.












Here is a better picture.  This canopy is 100 feet high!  But it is dwarfed by the building!  Only the pope may preach from it.

The frescoes, marble, gold leaf and all are overwhelming.  If the Catholic church took 10% of the money it has spent on its churches, it could do a lot towards alleviating childhood hunger and improving education among the poor of its flock.

The rest of this day was spent wandering more of Rome, looking at fountains and buildings in a light rain.

The next day was clear and we headed towards Umbria, Tuscany and the Dolomites.