Two and a half years after writing of our DaVinci Code inspired trip to Paris, we continued our 2 week vacation from Iceland this year, among similar lines to Angels and Demons (In Germany, that movie was titled lluminati) theme, this time to Rome and Vatican City. Unlike all previous trips to Italy where we drove down from Munich across the German, Austrian and then the Italian Alps, we decided this time to fly .
Rome is a city made for walking, as cobblestone roads which meandered through the expansive city were plentifull, sometimes too narrow and definately not upkept to handle the traffic running through it. Even with an underground rail system and the bus network, we walked some 55km during the 5 days spent there.
Through the movies, friends and travel programs; some highlights came to mind when we were planning this trip. Spot such as the famous Colosseum, Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain appended to this Vatican City; Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica makes for a full list of activities. Not to forget that in 2008, Rome ranked 2nd as global fashion capital behind New York City. To this end, we kept thinking, "where?" ... during our 55km walk.
With a streetmap and landmarks in sight, we found Rome surprisingly easy to navigate, plenty of trendy dressed Italian people and the promised loads of tourists. Monumental Churches, Piazza's and Museums to visit were plentiful in a grand scale. Traditional Italian food was also plentiful with a variety of top class restaurants on offer too, although this was much too expensive for our budgets. There were also lots of italians sidewalk cafe's where one could enjoy being watched with a cup of coffee. Talking about cups of coffee, we enjoyed what must have been our most expensive cuppa ever at Caffe Greco - which have been in business since 1760. This came out of our "100 things to do before I die" list!
Because of the cobblestone roads, solid shoes were a must for walking. At the end of the trip, one par of shoes were left behind - it had worn through - time to buy a new pair! It would be helpful to also have nerves of steel when visiting catacombs - we felt something down there, where we'd prefer not to venture any further. Probably some horror movie will be made about the spirits from the dead at the Roman Catacombs one day.
It's worth white noting that while we watched Angles and Demons before we visited Rome, we didn't have in mind visiting the location the movie featured when we did visit. However, we watched the movie again fresh after our return . The movie featured 7 places in Rome and the Vatican City. These were (please note explanations with the pictures)
- St Maria del Popolo Church
- St Peter's Square
- St Maria della Vittoria Church
- Piazza Navona
- Castel Sant'Angelo
- Church of Illumination to glimpse the secret passage connecting the Vatican to notorious Castel Sant' Angelo
We enjoyed Rome, its history and sights although amount of walking was a killer. We also witnessed the famous Italian "Touch Parking" - which we can only describe as a spectacular recurring display of the destruction of other people's property. This also means that driving in Rome is not recommended for us.
As much as we've seen and done, there remains a whole lot more we've missed out on. However, there's only so much our minds can see and our feet can take us in 5 days. We hope you enjoy the pictures. Due to the amount of pictures to show, we have again decided to present the photographs in three sets; Around Rome, Colosseum & the Ancient Rome Forum and Vatican City.
Jeanette and Raymond Han
December 24th, 2009
Rome trip was made between December 3rd and 7th, 2009
Images around Rome
Colosseum & Ancient Rome
Images of Vatican City,
A scientific experiment in Rome
Given the huge publicity and personal warnings from the police on the need for tourists to be aware of pickpockets, Jeanette decided to give them a go. With wallets "safely" stored away in a not-to-be-dislosed location (ps: Don't bother asking, the answer is "no"), she planted a heavily disguised "decoy" in the rear trouser pocket.... waitng patiently for the unscrupulous "victim". Sure enough, there were 2 attempts, both in heavy touristic areas. The Vatican City and Trevi Fountain!!
In both attempts, the "feeling" of being pick pocketed was relatively minor - which was very impressive given Jeanette was always aware and agressively ready to pounce on the intended "victim". They were quick, invisible (they wore black, Jeanette saw!) and quickly blended into the crowd. She managed to get a peek at one, who looked like a woman! ... from the back! In both attempts, the decoy had almost been successfully taken.
However, our wallet shaped pack of Kleenex (the decoy) is safe albeit slghtly dissapointed that the bait was not successfully taken. We might stick to fishing instead - the odds were better there.
Lots and lots of people in Rome. Being from Munich (and Melbourne), we are used to the Italian idiosyncracies and find them easy to deal with. Sadly, people were smoking like chimneys everywhere. Passive smoking is in an intensive scale. Jeanette was ready to put Rome further in history after this trip due to the suffering she endured from passive smokers.
We rate this 3 out of 5.
We received pretty good service everywhere we went; train station, restaurants, great hotel concierge and even the police - who drove up to us in their police golf buggy while we were the ONLY people right in the middle of the 100m long train platform, only to say to us "Atten-zione, be careful pick pockets!" ?? We weren't sure if they wanted us to be careful pick-pockets or be careful of the pick-pockets.
We rate this a 3 out of 5 .
Very cosmopolitan in that many people enjoyed the sun, sidewalk cafe's, the monuments, historical churches - and not to mention the Ancient Roman Forum.
This can only be 5 out of 5.
For us, Rome was an attractive city - although it doesn't win the "tidy town" award for Italy. One could enjoy the sights, experience history and enjoy good food at the same time - lots to see and do.
We rate this a 4 out of 5.
We love their food - the authentic pizza's and pasta to start with, but we also had great sushi and a great Il Branzino al Sale (Seabass in Salt Crust) in a local restaurant. We even enjoyed one of the most authentic Korean meals near the Vittorio Emanuelle II metro subway exit. That night, we each ate four dinners: pasta, steak, Korean Bosam Jung-shik and another Korean Sam Gye Tang.
We rate this 4 out of 5.
Rome, being in Europe comes with its fair share of expenses. Having said this, great quality accomodation was available at a reasonable price plus the cost of living each day was reasonable. As a trouist, food will be expensive but entrances to Churches are free whilst museums may cost about €4 to €7 per entry.
We rate this a 3 out of 5.
Everything considered; the sights, experience, food and cost - we rate this a 3.5 out of 5.
Greenspan's Mid-2009 Index