29 Oct 2008 to 3 Nov 2008

We managed to get off the ship early, with the hope of changing our tickets to an earlier train, but no luck, so went to the Genoa Aquarium instead to kill a few hours.
The aquarium is reputed to be the best in Europe, and was full of all sorts of fish, dolphins, seals and penguins...and this strange boy.....
There was even a petting pool where you could touch some rays. After the aquarium, we survived the 5 1/2 hr train journey to Rome. Glad to be off the Italian trains, we walked to our apartment about 10 mins from the station. Dinner was at a local Pizzeria called "Mamma Mia"
Thur 30th Oct - off to explore Rome. First stop the Colluseum, after avoiding rip-off Centurions, we went inside. This place really is ruined! Hard to appreciate the majesty of the place after so much of the building's marble was plundered many years ago. Nimes Amphitheatre was a far better monument.
The building is pockmarked with holes where the iron bars used to hold the blocks of marble and stone together where removed in the middle ages when there was a shortage of iron
On to the Palatine - site of a large Roman palace. The detail in some of the remaining marble pieces was exquisite
Next the Roman Forum - the size of the site was amazing
There are just so many ruins around Rome, some in better condition than others
The Piazza de Venezia, commissioned by Mussolini and referred to as the Wedding Cake building
The Pantheon, followed by a long walk back to our apartment!
Fri 31st Oct - Decided to spend the day in the Vatican City, joined awalking tour (avoided the queues) and started with the Vatican Museum. This photo is of the exit, by the way, not the entrance. The place was absolutely crowded.
Like the Louvre, the Vatican Museum deserved more than the three hours we spent there. Apart from having to navigate around the crowds of people, there were thousands and thousands of exhibits. This one hall had in excess of 1000 pieces of ancient Roman sculptures alone.
This ancient Greek sculpture was studied by Michaelango himself, and it was believed he took a lot of inspiration from it when he painted the Sistine Chapel.
And the paintings too, in the various rooms of the museum, were amazing - this one by Bernini. Sadly, no cameras allowed inside the Sistine Chapel where we all admired Michaelangelo's masterpiece
After the museum, we went inside St Peter's Basilica, the largest Christian place of worship in the world
Inside was astounding, with a sculpture by Michaelangelo (the only piece ever personally signed by him), and above the alter this piece by Bernini. It is reputed that two stories below this heart of the Basilica, St Peter's body is buried.
Back outside now in St Peter's Square where the Pope gives his addresses
Some pigeons decided to join us for lunch. Even managed to hand feed some of them provided Connor didn't chase them!
We walked the short distance towards the Tiber river to the Castel St Angelo. Originally a mausoleum (tomb) for Hadrian, it had also been converted into a fortress. From the top we had some great views over Rome - this shot back toward St Peters & the Vatican
Looking towards the Piazza Venezia, the Collesseum and Roman Forum.
Sat 1st Nov - All Saints Day (public holiday) in Italy, so we had to do some early shopping for groceries before the shops shut at lunchtime. We had an aborted attempt to get out to Tivoli, first by Metro, then we were unable to get tickets for the bus for the final leg. Bloody Italian transport system! So we hopped back on the Metro and headed back to town.

This is the Santa Maria in Cosmedin near the Tiber river
In the entrance, there is the Bocca Della Verita - legend has it that if you tell an untruth with your hand in its mouth, it will bite your hand off! Its not true - Connor had to test the theory out!
Over the Tiber now, and this is the only island on the river - Isola Tiberina, with the ruins of an ancient Roman bridge in front
Working our way back to the centre of the city, and here are more ruins, this time of the Teatro Marcello
Finally another shot of the Colleseum along Via dei Fori Imperiali - being a holiday it seemed the authorities have closed off the road to traffic - this would have been attempted suicide any other day given the way Italian's drive!
Sun 2nd Nov - Easy day today. We caught the Metro to Piramide, and this is the Piramide di Caio Cestio
And beside the Piramide is the Porta San Paola
Finally on to the markets at Porta Portese
This is the view on our final night from our apartment towards Stazione Termini
So our holiday in Italy came to an end. Here we are on the long haul to San Francisco and America

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