These boots were made for walking…

And cameras are meant for photos, some 400 being taken on the day.  No they are not all included here, just a very few.

Rome in a day, that was the mission for the day, and we even had a list of things to achieve. Started off early with a quick breakfast of muesli that we had soaked overnight, then off to the bus stop by 7.58am. Sadly missing the bus by all of 30seconds, had to wait another 20 minutes for the next one.

We still got into the Vatican City in what we thought would be reasonable time to join the queue to get into the museum (and therefore the Sistine chapel), but oh no, the line was already around two corners (at least a 2 1/2 hr wait). Faced with what could be an all morning wait, Alex hunted down one of the guys who had asked us if we wanted to join their tour which would mean we would skip the line. After offering us a student price discount without even asking, we thought we might as well. Not being totally convinced on whether this was at all legitimate or worthwhile, we took our chances and went with him. Well this was quite possibly the best decision of our trip so far, and easily the best money we have spent on any tourist related activity.

The guide, Anton, was more than well informed, clearly had a passion for art history, classics and theology and was great at communicating this with us. So we donned our headsets and set off through the museum. Walking through this on our own would have been OK but not particularly of any consequence had we not had Anton there to let us know what everything was about. We went through halls of sculptures, frescoes and even tapestries before we got through to the Sistine chapel (sadly no photography allowed, its copyrighted).

While the Aussies may have the big pineapple and the big banana the Vatican has the big pine cone

Big pine cone

ballAlso in the courtyard this modern sculpture of a ball within a ball (take that Rundle Mall).

This torso is quoted by Michelangelo as being the inspiration for some of his great body sculptures.  It was sculpted by a roman but the subject is in dispute.  In the Sistine chapel there are a number of paintings which clearly use this torso as a model.

torso 1torso 2

bronzeThe only remaining original Roman bronze

In the Tapestry room there are tapestries that originally were hung in the Sistine chapel.  They are now preserved in a special room.

foot tapestry  Detail of foot


bagThe black marble looked identical to a piece of black plastic bag from a distance

ceiling  The ceilings were highly decorated throughout.

 Ceiling Map hall  

floorAs were  the floors


There was a whole gallery dedicated to maps drawn on the panels of the walls.



papal guards     Papal guards

st marks    Alexandra in St Peter’s square

Anton lead us into the Sistine briskly, and took us right up to the back of the chapel, thinking this was a bit of a dumb place to stand, we were proved wrong, showing why he is the guide and we are following. From here we could see everything without too much back/neck strain, and get away from most of the crowds. We then spent another 30-45 minutes being guided through all the different parts of the paintings and the history of Michelangelo’s involvement in the works, from commission to his life afterwards. Without spending this amount of time to admire the works and the explanations to fully understand it all, we would have never been able to fully appreciate just how amazing it really is. Would highly recommend anyone to join a tour for the Vatican Museum that’s for sure.

After leaving the chapel, we briefly walked through the St Peters Basilica, but at this point we just wanted a bit of breathing room from the overwhelming size and grandeur of it all. So we hopped on the metro heading for the Coliseum. While on the tube we came to a stop called Piazza di Spagna, recognising this as the stop for the Spanish Steps, we quickly got off, to tick this off our list. We had a look at the steps, got the obligatory tourist photo and were annoyed by more hawkers before popping off to get some lunch.

Bernice and Alex at SpanishAlexandra and Bernice on the Spanish steps

Lunch was in a small unassuming trattoria, a lovely couple of Pizza’s for the girls – thin crispy base with a minimum of tasty topping, and a lovely fresh  tomato bruschetta for Roy, although the Pizza’s were far too big so wrapped up the leftovers for ‘ron’.

Back onto the metro to the Coliseum. Bernice decided to give her knees a rest here and go for a gelato and sit outside whilst Roy and Alex went inside to have a good look around. It was pretty spectacular. While there isn’t the seating remaining like the one in Verona, the whole thing is a lot bigger, and you can admire the skill and work that would have gone into building something so big so long ago.

Coliseum 1Inside the coliseum

Royu Alex and snow 2Roy Snow and Alexandra

Coliseum 1The below ground structure within the coliseum

Half a domeThe remains of a domed structure on the Palatine Hill, showing clearly the structure of a dome.

Then we headed up the side of Paletine hill to the Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, aka the world’s biggest oversized monument to anything ever built. It was MASSIVE! Everything to excess in Rome apparently. The sheer size and whiteness of it was stunning. Rules are strict here, no sitting, eating, drinking, smoking and dropping rubbish on the steps. That includes sitting to tie up shoelaces or anything.


After this we walked to the Trevi fountain. Again this is another amazing and large sculpture in Rome. In a very almost backstreet random spot it was full of tourists and hawkers, but that didn’t matter, it was still lovely. Once passing through the crowds to the bottom of the steps in front, we tossed our coin into the fountain to bring us back to Rome, then another coin to grant us a wish. Then it was off to get gelati beside the fountain (Roy owed Alex one after losing an earlier bet at the coliseum).

treviThe Trevi fountain

Alex and Bernice at TreviAlexandra and Bernice

Roy at TreviRoy

snow TreviSnow

From there we walked to the Pantheon, an amazing piece of Greek architecture including the dome which was one of the first structures to be built of concrete and at over 44 metres in diameter, it is impressive.  It is now used as a church which seemed odd.  They were just closing entry to the Pantheon just as we left, good planning on our behalf! 

pantheon dome 1The dome

Bernice and alex pantheonBernice and Alexandra

From there we walked across and through a few streets to find the Da Vinci Museum for Roy to go through whilst Alex and Bernice looked through the shop and then sat outside in the courtyard to watch the sky turn amazing colours as the sun set and also watch the massive flocks of birds that seem to amass every evening in Rome. Roy looked through the museum which featured may of Da Vinci’s inventions made up as working models.  We had seen some of these in Dunedin Museum a couple of years ago.

From there we caught the bus home, well, we hoped it was the right bus as we thought that we were able to miss out getting the metro train and just changes buses once.  Of course it was the right bus and soon we were back at the camp.  A simple and quick dinner tonight as we were all exhausted from our 12 hour walking tour of Rome, so it was reheated left over Pizza from lunch (the toaster works well for this thanx Rach. Then it was time for playing Phase 10, although the game had to be abandoned half way through as the oldest member of the touring party was found to be sleeping! We all had sore, achy muscles by the end of the day as we must have walked a few miles and yes, Alex did wear boots!

Random sights

vannini 3Yes another Vannini, this time in a political context

spiral designSpiral design inscribed on a column some 40 metres high.  This is one of two seen.

Snow posting Postcrad at VaticanSnow posting postcard at the Vatican

duff beerYes even this icon is present

While Roy was at the da Vinci exhibit it was decided that there were more monuments to be photographed!!

bernice clown

pose 1

roy clown

snow clown


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