InterRail #8: (A) Rome with a View

Day two in Rome had more exploring and sightseeing in store, but only after a very very sugary breakfast – icing glazed croissants, filled with a thick chocolate cream and sprinkled with chocolate shavings or the healthier option, icing glazed croissants with a thick and sickly apricot jam. I’m not sure which is better at 7 o’clock in the morning. Anyway, it filled a space and fuelled us up for the day ahead.

The first stop was the enormous Colloseum, which on our last visit we had only marvelled at from the outside, as the queues had been long and the temperate up in the high forties. However, bright and early on a Sunday morning we managed to join the queue at the right time and only had a half an hour wait until we were able to buy our tickets and explore.

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An hour or so later, once we had had our share of this one particular ruin we left the Colloseum and crowds of tourists behind us and strolled along the Via del Fori Imperial in the sunshine, passing the Forum, the statue of Julius Caesar and Trajan’s market as we went until we reached the Piazza della Madonna di Loreto.

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From there we crossed the beautiful Piazza Venezia, admiring the colossal Victor Emmanuelle II Monument, and continued our walk along the Via del Plebiscito. Just a short walk along this street we spotted an Irish Pub which contrary to usual Dovaston Tour’s guidelines we decided to stop at for an early lunch and something other than pizza. Whilst we were sat there enjoying our break, we were joined by a couple of Belgian ladies who began talking to the bar man. It transpired that one of them had spent twelve years living in England, in the same town as us and only a ten minute walk from our house. What a small world!

After an entertainment lunch break, and a hearty meal, we left the pub and walked through the streets to the Pantheon and on from there to the busy Piazza Navona.

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There seemed to be more tourists than ever and we were constantly getting caught up with the various tour groups who were following their respective umbrellas. As we stood watching the crowds and admiring the surroundings we couldn’t help but remember the scenes from Angels and Demons which used the fountains in the piazza. Nothing quite so dramatic today as the open spaces were filled with artists of every school exhibiting their works and attracting a lot of interest from tourists and locals alike.

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After a short break out of the sunshine we continued our adventure in the direction of Piazza del Popolo. We had identified a green area on the map above the Piazza and thought that, due to it’s proximity to the Villa Medici it might be worth exploring. Unfortunately as far as we could see, it turned out to be just just that, a green oasis in the city centre with not much to see. There was however, a rather nice fountain on the way back down the hill.

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At the bottom of the hill, we emerged into the wonderfully grandiose Piazza del Popolo, or the ‘People’s Square’. My research tells me that before the railroads, Piazza del Popolo was the traveller’s first view of Rome upon arrival.

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At the centre of the Square is an egyptian obelisk from the time of Sety I from Heliopolis and on the right hand side (when entering through Porto del Popolo) are a number of terraced gardens, leading up to the picino park and viewing platform above.

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From the Piazza, it was not a long walk along the Via del Babuino lined with expensive shops, toPiazza di Spagna, the location of the iconic Spanish Steps. You couldn’t see the steps for people, sitting relaxing, enjoying ice-creams and planning their next stops on their own hand-picked tours of this grand city. Luckily for you I have a rather lovely picture from our last trip..

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Despite our original plan to catch the metro from here (Spagna) back to Termini, we wandered off into the streets off of the Piazza Mignanelli in search of a Gelateria. We eventually left the shops behind and took the Via Sistina in the direction of the Fontana del Tritone where we hoped finally to find a means of transport to get us ‘home’. On the way we found a Gelateria waiting for us and for ten minutes forgot the aches and pains and savoured the various flavours of ice cream on offer. Shortly after, we found a bus stop, jumped on a bus to Indipendenzia and from there walked to the hotel. Another busy day with many more miles on the pedometer!