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Adventures of a short vet

More Roman adventures

ITALY | Saturday, 16 April 2011 | Views [575]

A slightly later start saw us having breakfast in the park of Colle Oppio, which overlooks the Colosseum, where we watched an impressive dogfight between the mutts being walked in a group. Ben & I pretended not to be vets. We then headed to “Santa Maria Maggiore”, a church famous for its sumptuous ceiling and rich decorations, before visiting another church, “St Pietro di Vincoli” (St Peter’s Church of the Chains). This church holds Michaelangelo’s only signed sculpture of “Moses receiving the Ten Commandments” (signed because everyone kept attributing the sculpture to Belini), as well as the chains that were said to have bound St Peter when he was arrested by the Romans and which miraculously joined when brought together.

We then made our way to part of the National Museum near the Termini rail station to view the famous discus thrower and the seated boxer scultptures, as well as some beautifully painted wall frescoes.

The Spanish Steps were literally crawling with tourists and the more annoying street vendors, so we stopped for lunch on a little wall overlooking the steps, before fighting our way down them and towards Piazza del Popolo, where we climbed more steps for yet another view of the city (by now I’d stopped taking photos of the views of the city). We headed back to the Trevi Fountain in search of the “best gelato shop in Italy” (and hence “the world”) though I was skeptical. They weren’t exaggerating as it was certainly the best gelato I’ve had so far! After a dinner of crackers and cheese in the hotel room we headed out for a night exploration of the city. The Trevi Fountain and Colosseum should certainly be viewed at night for a different perspective, and conveniently we found ourselves back at the gelato shop. The guy even recognized us, which is when you know you’re eating too much ice-cream!

On Sunday we met at 8am to head back to St Peter’s Basilica, where we made our biggest fail of the weekend. We had been wondering why the metro was so busy, and why everyone seemed to be carrying olive branches. When we followed the masses down the street to the fenced off piazza of the church we discovered why…it was Palm Sunday and the Pope was in town. Doh! Obviously we were unable to enter the church or the dome, but it was an experience in itself watching part of the Mass and seeing the parades of bishops and finally the Pope emerging from the Vatican. There were also at least 6 different types of security, ranging from the colourful stripy jester-impersonating Swiss Guards (who really don’t look like they could kill you with their bare hands), to the blue, green or black-uniformed officers parked up and down the street (who don’t need to kill you with their bare hands because they all have massive guns). After watching the cardinals and bishops parading around with palm leaves and seeing the Pope totter up to his throne, we headed back to the hotel for Ben & Han to pack up and leave for the airport.

Despite it being a lovely day, after 3 days of constant walking I was so knackered that I was happy to spend the afternoon lazing at the hostel and downloading my million or so photos. It will be hard to top this birthday weekend off!

Tags: michaelangelo, palm sunday, piazza del popolo, pope, santa maria maggiore, spanish steps, st peters basilca, st pietro di vincoli, vatican

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