Friday, May 15, 2009

A quick report on Rome

I know I am jumping around here but I felt I could do a quick blog on a couple of the attractions and return to Germany later.

I am usually not this disorganized but I’m worn out from all the 4 hour walks we take each day and then some walking in the afternoon and decided to sit down this afternoon and do a short blog!

Besides the Vatican, the Coliseum, and the ruins in Rome, a popular spot is the Fontana di Trevi or Trevi Fountain which is the most famous and probably the most beautiful fountain in all of Rome. This impressive monument dominates the small Trevi square located in the Quirinale district.  The fountains of Rome are supplied with water from the Aqua Virgo system which was constructed in 19 B.C.  Water travels from the Salone springs which are approximately 20 km from Rome and you will find people filling their bottles of water at many of the smaller fountains.  This water is cool, refreshing and clean.

Construction began on the Trevi fountain in 1732 and was completed in 1762.  The central figure of the fountain is Neptune, god of the sea. He is riding a chariot in the shape of a shell, pulled by two sea horses. Each sea horse is guided by a Triton. One of the horses is calm and obedient, the other one restive. They symbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea.  On the left hand side of Neptune is a statue representing Abundance, which spills water from her urn and Salubrity holds a cup from which a snake drinks (I was not aware that a snake could drink from a cup).

Most people remember this fountain from the movie “Three Coins in the Fountain” or another famous movie starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, “Roman Holiday”.  Post cards and posters are sold adjacent to the fountain depicting scenes from the film, “Roman Holiday”.  Also in this film, scenes were shot at the Spanish Steps.  These steps (Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti) are a set of steps climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the church of Trinita dei Monti. The Scalinata is the longest and widest staircase in Europe.

Of course in the movie one sees these spectacular sites free of tourists!  The reality of it is that there are hundreds of tourists and getting a good shot of either site is impossible sans people.  We even went to the fountain at night and there was only a slight relief in the number of people who were there.  We were advised by our guide that this was the “low” season for tourists and that what we were witnessing were very small crowds!  During the peak season there is at least 50% more people!  Boy, am I glad that we did not come during peak season.  We were also informed that if one was not with a guided tour, the wait for tickets to the Vatican could run more than 5 hours!  Gee, that is even worse than Disney World! 

And, all roads must lead to Rome as we heard Spanish, German, French, Japanese or Chinese (I can’t tell the difference), English (American and British), Polish and a few other dialects I could not identify.  When tour groups are large, the people are given a device similar to a little recorder or iPod and they listen to their guide who leads the front of the group, microphone in one hand and a flag in the other!

In certain areas, photos are forbidden but you will still see people taking pictures because they either 1) ignored the signs or 2) pretended to ignore the signs.  One such place was the Sistine Chapel.  For obvious reasons, the Church has the rights to the masterpieces in the Chapel and they make a great deal of money from selling postcards, books, and/or ornaments which depict scenes in this room.  Therefore, they do not want you taking a photo and denying them their income.  Of course, while in this room the attention is on the ceiling and I can attest to the fact that one’s neck gets very sore from looking up.  The art work is beautiful and more detailed than I had imagined.

Truth be told, I am over-fountained, over-statuted and over-informed and have decided to crash and burn this afternoon!  Well, after I finish this blog.

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