(Note: The following post describes details from a previous trip, NOT a current trip.)
Sunday, September 22.
It’s amazing how the months before a trip can seem so long, then seem to vanish in the blink of an eye.
But here we are. My mom and I, with our tour group, in Rome. Italy. Finally.
Technically, it’s “day 3” of our itinerary, having spent the first evening, then most of the following day in the air, and finally arriving at our hotel at 4:30 in the afternoon, exhausted and practically nodding off during the orientation session with our trip leader, a compact Italian man named Franco. (Well, me, anyway.)
Today, is much, much better. We sufficiently fill our tummies at breakfast and slap together some small sandwiches for lunch.
Our day starts with our tour bus passing Rome’s historic ruins before we’re let off for a closer look. Franco hands us off to our local guide Tiziana, who leads us from point to point, rattling off historic facts and waving around an antenna with black, white and red ribbons tied to it, so we can see her at all times in the sea of other tourists, and keep up.
We spot the ancient arch after which Paris’ Arc de Triomphe is modelled, and come across some sort of military parade as we’re looking at the various remains from the old city. We follow Tiziana farther, and pass by the exterior of the Colosseum.
At this point, the group breaks up for an hour or so. Some of our fellow travellers enter the Colosseum for a more detailed tour. Mom and I opt to stay outside.
The grounds around the exterior are teeming with tourists. Men illegally selling their cheap knock-off scarves, squeeze toys, and other wares, approach us repeatedly.
At one point, while taking some shade from the sun, we see a few pedlars high-tailing on it on foot, whizzing past us. There are police officers in the area.*
The group re-assembles, and we return to our hotel on the outskirts of town, where I gladly take a nap to battle my lingering jet-lag.
We return downtown in the late afternoon for a walking tour of the various piazzas and fountains, most notably, the Trevi Fountain – the biggest and, obviously, the busiest of them all.
At the fountain, we navigate around the hordes of tourists, finding a small patch of marble long enough to sit and snap a couple pictures.
Next, we pass through a shopping galleria with ornate stained glass (and stores with expensive designer labels), pass by a couple of smaller fountains and check out Trajan’s Column.
We head to the Pantheon, whose interior is not only architecturally stunning, but simply massive.
I glance up at the hole in the roof of the dome. Because of the time of day, the sunlight casts a shadow just inside, acting like a sundial.
Remains of various individuals are buried here, including those of the artist Raphael.
Our scheduled sightseeing for the day ends at the Piazza Navona, where merchants are hawking their wares and buskers are in abundance.
We’re let loose for dinner, and Mom and I partner up with two ladies – Susan from Darwin, Australia, and a Dutch lady from Vancouver named Else. (We don’t find out her name until later, because unlike a lot of people on the tour, she’s not wearing a name tag.)
We walk away from the main drag and manage to find a restaurant who can fix something Mom can actually eat!
Our meals consist of pasta and pizza; Mom can’t finish her meal, and I’m lucky my appetite’s big enough to demolish mine.
We aren’t downtown much longer after dinner, before we’re collected, walked back to our bus and whisked back to our hotel.
Today was so-so. We’ve got another early start ahead. We’ll see what the next day’s itinerary holds.
*Seems the police don’t really arrest these guys; rather they chase them around the area.