Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tired but Happy

Well, Rome WAS lovely and we managed to pack a lot in our two days. The weather was merciful in that the rain occurred mostly during the hours of darkness (except for a magnificent thunderstorm while we were sat on the steps of San Francesco in Ripa, waiting for it to open), and the temperature was pleasantly mild. Highlights? Apart from the usual stuff (Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps etc.) I really enjoyed exploring the Mithraeum under San Clemente, going up the new panoramic lift at Il Vittoriano (staggeringly good views) and some new churches in Trastevere. We'd not really explored that side of the Tiber before - last time we ventured into it it felt a bit 'other' so we'd scuttled back over the river. This time however, armed with an itinerary and opening times we boldly strode through the winding streets and were utterly entranced by the area. Santa Maria in Trastevere had the most wonderful mosaic apse that easily rivalled (when we fed 50 centys into the metered light) those of Santa Prassede and San Clemente. San Francesco in Ripa housed Bernini's 'Ecstasy of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni' and in the basilica of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere we saw Maderno's marble recreation of the saint's remains (see photo). Diligent searching ensured that we enjoyed some excellent meals at the oldest pizzeria in Rome (on the via Genova), La Gallina Bianca off the via Torino and La Fontanella Sistina (via Sistina off Piazza Barberini) where our rather grumpy wait for a table was rewarded with the finest tiramisu ever tasted. Tazza d'Oro just off the Piazza Navona provided a reviving caffe corretto. A tour of St Peter's (up the cupola, down into the crypt) was, of course, mandatory. A wander up and down the via Veneto ended in the atmospheric ossuary of the Capuccins at Santa Maria della Concezione - a sobering reminder of mortality. An unpleasantly early start Saturday morning (5am) saw us trudging up to Termini to catch the Leonardo Express to Fiumcino, and our early (and rather turbulent) flight saw us back in the UK by half-ten.

Exhaustion caught up later in the day: sitting slack-jawed in front of the telly heads started nodding in the very early evening. Bed summoned by 8.30pm.

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