Saturday 28 February 2009

Rome - second edition

Since a few weeks have passed since my last trip to Rome, thought it'd be a good idea to write the things I can still remember before my brain decides that it's time for a quick formatting.

This time, I will not write a very long story, because most of the places I managed to see were the same as the first time I went to Rome, in December. The characters of the story are different this time, though...

So... lately I seem to take important decisions quite quickly. I don't have to think too much, I just act. And you know what? It's not bad, not bad at all. It was the same with visiting Rome the second time in such a short period. As my dear friend, Emanuela, says, CHANGE YOUR LIFE (just like that, in a second)!

The initial idea was to go to Rome for shopping. Yeah, yeah, yeah... that sounds so Mitzi-like, as some of my buddies would like to call it. Actually, it's not! Sales start in January and finish at the end of February. The things you find are of a better quality than the ones down here and the discounts are REAL! Add that to a very cheap Wizzair flight and an incredibly much discounted 4 star hotel room, it's quite a deal, I tell ya! Flight to Rome and one night in a 4 star hotel for only 90 EUR, doesn't sound too bad does it?

There were three of us in the beginning: Natalia, Leila and yours truly. But the group got to have 8 members quite quickly when G├╝ven, Bobo, Cristina, Shtena and Denisa decided to come as well.

The weather was incredible on the first day. It kept raining in a very strange manner - 5 minutes of showers, 10-20 minutes of clear sky. It was very annoying and I wasn't feeling too good either. I tried to get over that and see as much as possible.

We started at San Paolo fuori le Mura, a church that is very famous, but couldn't see the last time. The church was built on the grave of St. Paul and inside the giant cathedral there's an altar in which you can see the chains that imprisoned him in the Mamertime Prison together with St. Peter. The chains of St. Peter's are in San Pietro in Vincoli. Very beautiful church, but not as impressive as San Giovanni in Laterano in my opinion. The only thing I liked better here was the cloister. I found it more beautiful that the one of San Giovanni.

From here we went to Piazza di Spagna and went up at Trinita dei Monti. The church is not too impressive, but the view outside it is great! We came down the Spanish Steps and continued towards Fontana di Trevi. This time I knew the good procedure for throwing coins, so I hope it still works to bring me there. :)

We hurried towards Piazza Barberini and from there we passed Palazzo Barberini on our way to Santa Maria Maggiore. We approached it from the back and this was the part I didn't get to see the last time. It's beautiful indeed, only then I realised how big the church was. I chose not to enter it this time, instead I caught my breath over a sandwich and a capuccino in the caffe across the street.

When the group was back in its original formation, we took the metro and went to San Giovanni in Laterano. I wanted to go to Scala Santa while the rest were seeing the cathedral, but to my luck it was closed for another 15 minutes. It was worth the waiting, I thought. As I was mentioning last time, you cannot go on the Holy Stairs other than on your knees. This time I felt like I needed to do it, especially because I was going through quite a stressing period. I hoped if not for something else, at least for my peace of mind. And God, I really obtained that! It's very hard to put into words what climbing Scala Santa can make you feel... I felt eliberated and revived and I was having hope again. It did me good! And I did good to take the time for it...

We continued from there towards the Colosseum, but on the way we stopped to visit San Clemente. Afterwards, the Colosseum was a must see on my list. Yes, I've seen it last time, but I didn't get too close to it. I managed to see Arco di Constantino this time which I completely ignored in December. Plus, I got to take some pretty lovely photos because the sun had made it through the dark clouds and it was setting.

We followed Via dei Fori Imperiali where Natalia used my camera to take the greatest sunset pic! We saw Il Foro Romano from outside and then went up on Campidoglio just to go to Piazza Venezia, in a park, where we froze while waiting for a friend of Cristina and Bobo's. Man, we were so tired! My feet were killing me and all I wanted to do was get into a warm comfortable bed! But the day was far from ending...

For dinner we met Emanuela and Mr. L who were nice enough to join us and to take us to a Roman restaurant near San Pietro. We had suppli, which I was really craving for, and other typical food, plus a lot of Nastro Azzuro! Yummy! We could barely walk and breathe in the end when we had to part and head towards our hotel, through another round of heavy rain, this time with small pieces of ice.

The second day, the group divided, since four of us wanted to go to San Pietro, while the other four wanted to go shopping. Fair enough, as long as we got back to the airport in time to catch our flight back home.

Sunday was a much better day than Saturday because, even though it was raining while we had breakfast, the sun won over the clouds and when we were at the Vatican, the sky was blue-blue-blue, nel blu dipinto di blu! Volaaaaare! :) We reached San Pietro's square just in time to see the pope speaking and we received his blessing. I'm not a big fan of Benedict XVI, but the feeling was awesome! We hurried then into the cathedral and yet again I was impressed by La Pieta. It was like seeing an old friend, very strange feeling. I was so happy to be there again, in front of such a beautiful masterpiece. The visit to San Pietro had its up's and down's... The center of the church was closed because there was a mass, so we couldn't rub San Pietro's foot again, nor I could take the photo I really wanted to take with the borrowed Sigma 10-20 mm lens. Very disappointing! But there's always a next time! We got to visit the tombs of the popes and it was touching to see the one of pope John Paul II, with loads of flowers and notes thrown on it by the believers. Afterwards, we decided to go up in the cupola, to enjoy the view... All well, we took the elevator and got ready for the 320 steps to climb to the top. I mentioned earlier that I was going through a pretty stressing period, so my old friend called "panic attack" managed to show its ugly teeth while there were still 100 steps to climb. I got claustrophobic all of a sudden and I only wanted to get out of the narrow corridor as soon as possible. Luckily, there were bars at the windows, otherwise... you never know what way to get out of there I would've chosen. Maaaan, horrible feeling! I don't recommend it, really! Fortunately, Leila was there for me and I managed to get to the top. I really thank her for being there, REALLY REALLY! She was of huge help. The view was great, just amazing, but... we had to go back down... through similar corridors... and there were a lot of people in front of us, also trying to go back down... For the ones who don't know (and I hope you never do), when you're having a claustrophobic attack, you need to see that the way in front of you is clear. So a bunch of people, looking like they're stuck into the corridor, doesn't help!!! By the mercy of God and the speed of my feet, I managed to go downstairs and I was incredibly happy when this adventure ended.

We looked at our watches and realised there was still time to have something to eat and maybe see Castel Sant'Angelo from outside. Word of advice: even though the view of San Pietro is breath-taking, DO NOT STOP to eat on Via della Conciliazione! We nearly fainted when we saw the bill, but... oh well... that's life, we learn from our (big!) mistakes.

We did get to see the Castel and the bridge Sant'Angelo, took a few photos and ran to the metro station. We managed to miss two of the buses that were going to take us to the airport, but we got there eventually in due time.

All these being said... I CANNOT WAIT TO GET BACK TO ROME AGAIN! It's unfair how there are so many things to see. And I bought this book and nearly started to cry when I realised that there are tons of other places to see, more Cosmati floors for me to walk on and enjoy, gardens, palazzos, many, many things. Maybe I should just move to Rome... Hmm... Not a bad idea, it would just simplify everything. And I would actually respect the Italian people and what they would be offering me. I would respect their traditions and their privacy.

Don't know when I'll be back to Rome for visiting. I am flying to Rome though to go to Florence for Easter. That will be so nice! Especially because Mr. C will accompany me and we're going to see loads of mesmerising places! But Easter is still like 2 months ahead. Until then, Milano in 2 weeks! Another case of checking the Internet and booking a ticket without thinking too much. This time there will be only Natalia and myself, but we're going to meet a friend of mine there. I think it will be a lot of fun!