All roads lead to Rome - Three days then a 11 day cruise then back to Rome for a few more days
Rome really is the eternal city. There is no other like it for ancient history coexisting with the modern world. Rome, Italy’s capital, is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display. Ancient ruins such as the Forum and the Colosseum evoke the power of the former Roman Empire. Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, has St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.
WEDNESDAY 4 JANUARY 2017 - ROME
We arrived this afternoon to a beautiful 10 degrees Celsius after leaving 1 degree Celsius this morning.
Our hotel, IQ Roma is a very welcome surprise - new, very comfortable, spacious and very well appointed. Our bathroom with a full bath, separate shower, toilet and bidet is about the size of the whole studio we had in Paris.
We had a wonderful restaurant recommended too us, Bertezletto, two streets away. Arguably, the best Italian food we have ever had. We have been to Rome four times before.
THURSDAY 5 JANARY 2017 - The Trevi Fountain, Via del Corso, Piazza Navarone and the Pantheon
Rome has a good bus network with a ticket costing 1.5 Euros means you can have 100 minutes of bus travel. As central Rome is quite compact you can really get around. Today we headed for the Vis del Corso,one of the main shopping streets in proximity to quite a few places of interest.
The Piazza Colonna
The really impressive thing to note is that ancient buildings are preserved in Rome.
The Pantheon is a former Roman temple, now a church, in Rome, Italy, on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). The present building was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD. He retained Agrippa's original inscription, which has confused its date of construction as the original Pantheon burnt down so it is not certain when the one now standing was built.
The building is circular with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment. A rectangular vestibule links the porch to the rotunda, which is under a coffered concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres.
It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, in large part because it has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a church dedicated to "St. Mary and the Martyrs" (Latin: Santa Maria ad Martyres) but informally known as "Santa Maria Rotonda". The square in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza della Rotonda. The Pantheon is a state property, ruled by Italy's Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism through the Polo Museale del Lazio; in 2013 it was visited by over 6 million people.
Though the Pantheon's large circular domed cella, with a conventional temple portico front, is "unique" in Roman architecture, it was much the largest and most accessible complete classical temple front known to the Italian Renaissance, and was the standard exemplar when classical styles were revived. It has therefore been copied many times by modern architects.
We walked on to the Piazza Navona. Piazza Navona is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. The ancient Romans went there to watch the agones ("games"), and hence it was known as "Circus Agonalis" ("competition arena"). It is believed that over time the name changed to in avone to Navone and eventually to Navona.
The picture above shows one of the newer buildings. It is nearly 700 years young.
Time for a quick break. The Italians make great beer.
The National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II (Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II) is a remarkably large building made of white marble. This monument was built in honor of Victor Emanuel II. Although not having towers in its general design, the medieval structure still attracts attention from almost all parts of Rome because its color stands out in an array of earth-colored buildings. It is situated between the Capitoline Hill and Piazza Venezia and features some statues, columns, and grand stairways.
First King of Italy
Victor Emmanuel II always had the goal of making Italy unified. Then there arose a unified Italy in 1861 and he came to be the first king. When he died in 1878, he was buried in the Pantheon.
Across from the Monument and is the Palazzo Bonaparte owned by Bonapart's mother. She lived out her days here.
The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs is a titular basilica church in Rome, Italy built inside the frigidarium of the Baths of Diocletian in the Piazza della Republica.
FRIDAY 6 JANUARY 2017 - the Metro, The Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna), the Colosseum and the Roman Forum (Palantine Hill).
The Spanish Steps are a set of steps in Rome, Italy, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top.
The monumental stairway of 135 steps (the slightly elevated drainage system is often mistaken for the first step) was built with French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed funds of 20,000 scudi, in 1723–1725, linking the Bourbon Spanish Embassy, and the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the Bourbon kings of France, both located above — to the Holy See in Palazzo Monaldeschi located below.
It is possible to see ancient ruins like the three photos below among streets filled with cafes and shopping like these below.
The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum.
It was for centuries the center of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; and the nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city's great men. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history. Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archaeological excavations attracting 4.5 million sightseers yearly.
Many of the oldest and most important structures of the ancient city were located on or near the Forum. The Roman kingdom's earliest shrines and temples were located on the southeastern edge. These included the ancient former royal residence, the Regia (8th century BC), and the Temple of Vesta (7th century BC), as well as the surrounding complex of the Vestal Virgins, all of which were rebuilt after the rise of imperial Rome.
We walked through to The Colosseum. It Is also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. It is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome. Built of concrete and sand, it is the largest amphitheatre ever built. The Colosseum is situated just east of the Roman Forum. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72, and was completed in AD 80 under his successor and heir Titus. Further modifications were made during the reign of Domitian (81–96). These three emperors are known as the Flavian dynasty, and the amphitheatre was named in Latin for its association with their family name (Flavius).
The Colosseum could hold, it is estimated, between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators, having an average audience of some 65,000; it was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles (for only a short time as the hypogeum was soon filled in with mechanisms to support the other activities), animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.
Although partially ruined because of damage caused by earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions and also has links to the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit "Way of the Cross" procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum.
SATURDAY 7 JANUARY 2017 - travel to the port of Cittavechia to start our 12 day cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean. We return to Rome on 19 January so I will complete the second half of our stay in Rome for the three days we have back here.