Leaving the cold of England behind we arrived in Rome to 35 degree temperatures and that was at about 7 pm!
Next morning we were up and out and this fearless guide managed to get us lost on the way to the Forum - well it has been a few years since I was last here. The good side of getting lost was Mike found a barber to cut his locks, long overdue. Finally we reached the Forum at the back entrance I have used on previous visits only to find that it is now the exit and whats more you have to pay. Bugger. Tickets must now be purchased at the Colosseum. So back we go, only to find that the queue to buy tickets was about 3 hours long.
So muttering that the next day we would come back at sparrow fart to buy the tickets for the Colosseum and Forum we headed over to the Trevi Fountain. Getting us lost yet again we eventually found it, only to discover it is being renovated, no water flowing, just scaffolding and drop sheets.
This was not a good day! Rome really is a wonderful city to get lost in though, you just never know what is around the next corner. Which then for me was a hairdresser. Mikes hair was pretty wild but mine was all over the place so my curly locks were tamed by a great Italian hairdresser somewhere in Rome.
On day 2 we were up really early and headed back to the Colosseum, this time arriving before the ticket office opened and joined a queue of several hundred people. But the wait to buy tickets was not so bad and we ended up in the Colosseum before 9 am. There has been a lot of restoration done there since my last visit, so much so that we spent more than an hour wandering the place. It truly is amazing and more amazing to think that something built more than 2000 years ago is, for the most part, still standing. Later we crossed the road and spent lots of time in the Forum, again there is extensive restoration going on in there but there is still lots open to look at.
The rest of the day was just spent wandering, visiting the many churches and piazzas. We did wander into one church, mainly to escape the heat, called Sant'ignazio di Loyola, which was incredibly beautiful. The trompe l'oeil had to be seen to be believed. Feet and hands appeared to be hanging from the ceilings as did various flowers and vines. Then of course there was the gilt which adorned the pillars and ceiling. This church was truly a jaw dropping place.
On our third day, and knowing how horrendous the crowds are at the moment in Rome we left our hotel bright and early to catch a train down to The Vatican - too far to walk from our hotel. It was just after we left the train that Mike discovered that the gypsies had managed to separate him from his wallet. Fortunately it was just our joint kitty wallet which only ever contains enough money to last us the day, but it did have our joint debit card in it too and that was cause for concern. But we did managed to contact the bank and get it stopped, so in the end it was not mega deal and Mike is now a lot wiser!!
Again the queues were horrendous, 3 hours wait for The Vatican, 2 hours for The Sistine Chapel. We opted to buy tickets, at horrendously inflated prices, to fast track ourselves to the top of the queue. Sadly the crowds are just so big that what should be a wondrous experience was more akin to being a sardine in a very tightly packed tin. In the Sistine Chapel the guards are screeching out to tell people to be silent and not to take photos then in the Vatican barricades have been erected everywhere to channel you in and out. Just awful. Chris, do you remember when we were there we just walked straight in. Sadly not like that now.
Apart from the crowds we had a terrific time, our hotel was good and the food was even better.
We jetted out the next day to Turin where we were greeted most warmly by Fabrizio's family, who have been treating us with such kindness and feeding us up as though we have not eaten since leaving Australia. Such a beautiful family.
Tomorrow we take Fabrizio's car and commence our drive through Italy and France. All going well tomorrow afternoon we will be sitting beside Lake Como, relaxing in the sun, reading a book. Well that's the plan. We have been gone almost 2 and a half months without a break, so this will be our chance to recharge the batteries. Yes we will still do a couple of things, but not much.
Starting off in Sydney we head over to the US for a few days in Los Angeles, then Las Vegas and finally over to the Big Apple. Then off again, down to Cuba for about 18 days for some old cars, cigars and Baccardi. After that we head north, this time to Toronto in Canada for a whistle stop before crossing the Atlantic to the UK. One of the highlights there will be a week down on the Isle of Wight. Jetting off again we will then spend approximately the next two months driving around Italy and France. After all that hard work we journey over to Greece where we will island hop using the local ferry systems, with 3 nights on Santorini, 3 nights of Mykonos and 3 nights on Paros. Yep, we love doing the tourist stuff! Finally we begin the long haul home stopping off on the way in Honkers for a little retail therapy.