Via De Delfini, 24


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We didn’t realise ’til this morning that Fernando, our lovely next door neighbour and negoziante, made the cover of Lonely Planet some years ago.

Fernando

It was perfect to have his store next door as it made supplying the kitchen with fresh products very simple. I loved his timeless bike.


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore


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The ambience of the Piazza Margana was calm and perfectly central, yet close to everything for us to walk everywhere. We have been lucky so far with accommodation on this trip.


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore


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We fly to Venice in a few hours and say ciao to Roma, a wonderful and truly eternal city.

The Roman Forum and the Vatican

We walked over 20 kilometres today. This is a family record, for any trip. The girls were skipping along the Tiber, on the way home, apparently unaffected. Kate and I felt like cold beer and a deep need to sit down for a week. We both feel a little hobbled. Lucy and Sarah are on the cusp of earning their ‘good travellers’ rewards – a trip to Legoland and Hong Kong Disneyland – as they have been absolutely excellent.

We visited the Roman Forum today and also ascended the Palantine Hill, the location of the cave, where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf that suckled them. Once again, being at the site gives one a different perspective on familiar history in a range of ways. For example, I now understand how close the Colosseum and Circus Maximus were to the heart of government. Augustus, from his residence above the Forum, could actually watch the chariots race. You should note that the Circus Maximus is not very impressive, looking more like a disused skate park than a historic site of import. You should also note that we could not prise the audio guide from Sarah’s hands.

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Lucy and Sarah saw that archaeologists use more than just trowels to do their work. We saw a variety of mechanical diggers excavating at the site and this woman (below) using a theodolite.

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After lunch, we walked to the Vatican Museum and Saint Peter’s Square. I decided not to take my camera and, of course, regretted this instantly. No photos are permitted in the Sistine Chapel but elsewhere, photography is allowed.

Kate really enjoyed the afternoon. I struggled, rightly or wrongly, with some of my deeply held beliefs. Lucy said she loves all museums. Sarah made us all laugh. We all enjoyed the Gallery of Maps. I also learnt that Benito Mussolini signed the papers that made Vatican City the world’s smallest state, in 1929. Interesting huh.

It was a good day in the world.

God2-Sistine Chapel

St Peter's Square, Vatican City - April 2007

Via Appia Antica


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We walked along the Appian Way today, occasionally the girls marched. This journey was special for me and I was rather elated to have such an experience with antiquity. I suggest you read the link in the first sentence, it is a brief history of the importance of this road that links Rome with the south of Italy and who built it.

Without waiting to be told what to do by the Senate, Appius Claudius began

Claudius Appius must have been an impressive, innovative character. Rome needed the road. He built it!

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There are some interesting houses along the Appian Way. I wondered who lived in most and noticed plenty of security – dogs and cameras – to deter visitors. 

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cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

An unexpected bonus was stumbling upon the Catacombs of San Callisto. According to our guide, 500 000 christians are entombed in 20 kilometres of underground passages here covering an area of 37 acres. There at least 40 other catacombs around Rome. Christians, before the Edict of Milan, were secretive in their burial practices through necessity.

If in Rome, we highly recommend you visit some catacombs in the heat of the early afternoon. It is a fascinating and coolly refreshing experience, especially after the rigours of the Appian Way.

I should mention that Lucy and Sarah had no trouble assuming a number of roles during the day – gladiators, pilgrims, legionaries and tourists – and were particularly pleased that they had the answers to many of the guide’s questions, as he asked them to be archaeologists.

Unfortunately, no photographs were permitted in the catacombs.


Il Colosseo

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The Colosseum, or Flavian amphitheatre, is the second largest structure remaining from ancient times. I’ll let you work out the largest (Lucy and Sarah are keen to visit it and Egypt). It is amazing to think that it was used as a storehouse and pillaged so the marble and stone could be used on building projects initiated by the Catholic Church. Then again, I guess the place hardly symbolises what is most noble in human nature and it may make sense on a number of levels for it to have been dismantled.

The girls do not seem weary of all the ‘Roman history’ we seem to be imbibing on this trip. We have talked about Hadrian’s Wall being the furthest outpost of empire and now, in Rome, we are at the centre. Not really sure how much Sarah gets it but certainly she is an enthusiast, at this stage.

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Sarah was allowed to buy anything she wanted in the gift shop for being such a good traveller. She spent ages looking closely at all kinds of things, especially jewellery and figurines of gladiators. Ultimately, she chose a book about a boy who is walking around the Colosseum with his family and is mysteriously transported back in time, meets the emperor and has a series of adventures. Good choice, Sarah!

Il Colosseo is very impressive but like other experiences we have had in Italy is not well-served by staff or systems. It is interesting that most museums and attractions in Italy permit EU residents under the age of 25 for free but charge a 5 and a 7 year old full price. I guess the logic is if you are keen enough to fly to Europe it is likely payment will be forthcoming. I quibble. It was worth it!


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Returning to Rome?

Like every other tourist in Rome, we visited the Trevi Fountain. The ambience, late evening on a Friday, was very mellow. People from so many places all sitting calmly, taking photos but mostly just relaxing, enjoying the surprising beauty of the place.

The girls threw three coins over their left shoulder into the fountain for luck (Sarah found this a little challenging so we practised) and I truly hope they do return to Rome in future years.

Lucy’s hand on the marble caught my eye. I particularly like the simplicity of this shot and increasingly think ‘small’ when visiting the grand, so often photographed tourist sites.


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I also like this photo of Kate and the kids. Sarah has a wonderfully adoring expression on her face as she looks at her Mum.

Roma

Rome is so clean and cultured, calm and sophisticated after 5 days in the grime and chaos of Naples. The cobblestones seem to gleam here – polished – and most noticeably, are impossibly perfectly irregular.

We are in an apartment in the Campidoglio and in walking distance of everything we wish to see. I am instantly smitten with a place that has taken me 42 years to see.


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I wandered at dawn this morning along the Tiber. Famous rivers really do it for me and this one rivals the Thames and Ganges in my imagination. The tree-lined walk was completely salubrious (as was the one euro cappuccino) and fruit purchased at the Campo de’ Fiori markets for my sleeping family.


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore


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AD122

Yesterday we travelled along Hadrian’s Wall in the brilliantly named AD122 bus (the year the Roman emperor decreed a wall would be built to mark the frontier). The landscape was phenomenally beautiful and I wanted the bus to stop several times to take photos, especially of the poppies and stunning, golden fields. The wall is visible in many places and one guy we chatted with had walked it, in about 7 days, staying at B&Bs along the way. Windermere to Newcastle is a longish stroll but I’d love to do this in the future.

We checked out the Roman Army Museum and I was surprised that both my daughters enjoyed the award-winning 3D film for the entire 20 minutes. The investment in the museum is evident and it is very engaging. We did go to the Great North Museum the day before and the girls loved it, although very different, equally.


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The next stop was to visit the oldest surviving written records found in Britain, at Vindolanda. You can read the tablets online here. Catherine, our guide was kind to the girls and knowledgeable. It is an impressive site and Lucy, very keen on being an archaeologist at the moment, is dreaming of Pompeii after this experience.


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It was a longish day but we have a much better idea of the landscape ‘up North’ now and this experience will link nicely for Lucy and Sarah with their visit to Rome.