February 10, 2016

Our Big Family Road Trip: The Bustle of Rome


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We decided to make the hour and a half journey into Rome.  We hoped to do so much during the day.

Statues and sculptures seemed to be everywhere.  Even the bridges were adorned with them, and not on a small scale either.  Great, elaborate statues would rise high above, each telling a story of its own.


Even the bridges weren't spared decoration by elaborate sculptures

Even the bridges weren’t spared decoration by elaborate sculptures


Driving in Italy is not for the faint-hearted.  Driving in Rome is an amalgamation of Super Mario Kart and Fight Club; zip around as fast as you can and the rules are, there are no rules.

How many times did we expect to see a collision occur only for vehicles to somehow barely miss each other?  It was easy to see why the scooter was the preferred mode of transport – ‘preferred’ being an understatement of huge proportions!  Row upon row of parked scooters were lined up in every narrow street or main road.  Old ladies would ride theirs whilst holding onto their shopping bags, and a humourous highlight was watching a row of several septuagenarians lining up at the traffic lights, scooters revving as they prepared to be the first to speed off once the lights changed!  Fantastic!

As we drove around we soon were faced with road closures and diversions.  We drove around in circles for a short time, trying to get to where we wanted to go but having our route blocked at every point.  Then we realised.  It was May Day.


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The stage for the Labour Day concert was being set


Every year on May 1st a free concert is held in Rome outside the St John in Lateran’s Basilica.  The concert is a big deal and very popular, having had many popular worldwide stars performing there over the years.


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The free concert is held in front of St John in Lateran’s Basilica every year


We thought we had chosen to visit on the wrong day.  We had managed to find a parking space (hurrah!), which wasn’t a terribly strenuous distance from the Colosseum.  As we queued to go inside we were given the information that it would be closing at midday.


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The Colosseum


That made perfect sense.  It was a public holiday so people were not at work or school.  Logic would tell you to close down the tourist attractions for half the day.  Hmm…


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The Colosseum was much larger than I had expected it to be


We tried not to feel too disappointed – the walk around took a fair bit of time and it was fascinating to see even the exterior of this historic amphitheatre.  It was far, far taller and larger than I had imagined it to be, and much more imposing than I thought.


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It didn’t take much of an imagination to picture all the battles which went on within the Colosseum


You couldn’t fail to be amazed at the sheer size of it and I was in awe at how it was built.  They must have been some strong and determined fellows, those Romans!


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The children were busy planning to build their own model once we returned home


Stories of gladiators and battles brought the Colosseum alive for the children, and they were soon busily planning projects and more research they were going to carry out once we returned home after our trip.


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The Arch of Constantine provided us with the opportunity to talk about our own family history


It was such a joy for me personally to visit the Arch of Constantine.  It provided me with the ideal opportunity to tell the children about Constantine, and about the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, all of which make up part of their family history on my side.


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The main inscription which you can see above the main arch in the centre is identical on both sides


Seeing structures like these which were constructed a couple of thousand years ago really does bring history to life.  Realising how much work, how much sweat and how much brute strength must have gone into building these, and for them to still be standing still relatively strong despite earthquakes and erosion, surely deserves some recognition and praise, does it not?

Modern day structures like the Shard don’t cut it for me, I’m afraid.  But these are worthy of my awe!


The Victor Emmanuel II Monument (Altare della Patria)

The Victor Emmanuel II Monument (Altare della Patria)


Ah, the Victor Emmanuel II.  We were chatting as we walked and turned a corner to unexpectedly come face to face with this absolutely gargantuan monument which dwarfed everyone and everything around it.  It is monstrously huge!

I couldn’t quite decide whether it was deserving of praise at the sheer opulence and arrogance it possessed and still can’t.  So many buildings and so much of the area was destroyed in order to put this monument up, and the white marble ensures it stands out clearly from everything around it.


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The sculpture of Victor Emmanuel II riding a horse is in the centre


Without a doubt, a lot of hard work and amazing creative talent went into building it but it’s just so… extreme!


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The monument is also known is ‘Il Vittoriano’. The construction began in 1911 and ended in 1925.


We weren’t aware until afterwards that there is a panaromic elevator within it which allows you to see a full view of Rome through 360°.


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We continued to walk through the city to make our way to see the Trevi Fountain.


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Our visit so far, apart from the vehicles, wasn’t too busy.  Until we hit the Trevi Fountain where the crowds were unbelievably busy!


The Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain


Try as we might, we couldn’t get a great view of the fountain.  The crowds were packed tightly, with tour guide after tour guide waving their flags above their heads as they lead their audiences of 20, 30 or more at a time in an already crowded space.  This wasn’t helped by the street sellers following you, and pesteringly repeating the same spiel over and over again, attempting to persuade us to buy squeaky, squashy splat toys you’d throw to the ground and watch puff themselves into a ball with a squeal.  Squealing things splatting to the ground is the story of my life.  I have six sons under the age of ten, don’t you know?


Here is the left...

Here is the left…


We had so been looking forward to seeing the Trevi Fountain but were unprepared for the sudden claustrophobia caused by so many people in such a small area.  That’s not the say that the fountain was small, not at all.  It was a great work of art and at any other less crowded time, it would have been wonderful to take the in the details and appreciate it all completely.  Sadly, it wasn’t going to happen today.

...and here is the right

…and here is the right


Still, at least we had the chance to see it despite the crowds and bustle surrounding it.  And it was undoubtedly very beautiful – or at least what we could see of it was.


The crowds were unbelievable!

The crowds were unbelievable!


It’s true, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  You couldn’t see it properly in a day either.  Really speaking, we needed more time to be able to explore and enjoy the immense history within the city, but we made a determined effort to see what we could, at least!

And driving in Rome?  Let’s just say I’m glad it wasn’t me behind the wheel!



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