14.10.2010 - 19.10.2010
With great excitement we took a train from Florence to Italy's capital - Rome. This was on Chris's list of "must-see" destinations, with him having had a long-time interest in the Roman Empire. Jade had just finished Colleen McCullough's book 'First Man in Rome', and she was keen to see the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. We checked into our B&B accommodation, expensive for what it was, but opposite the Vatican walls and a central location to many of the famous sites. We had booked for 5 nights, just enough time to scrape the surface of the city really. On our first night, Jade took Chris out for a glimpse of Rome by night - Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. We noticed a few Catholic Australian groups walking around with pictures of the Australian nun Mary MacKillop, and found out that she was to be canonized in a public ceremony at Saint Peter's Square on the 17th of October. We did not attend the ceremony, but felt lucky to be near the Vatican on that day, considering that she is the first and only Australian to be made a saint. Jade bought her mother a pendant to commemorate the canonization - though not a Catholic, her mother had grown up close to where Mary MacKillop had started her career in South Australia. During our time in Rome, we went to the Colosseum, the Forum, the Palatine Hill, the Capitol Gill, the Vatican museum, Saint Peter's Basilica, up the Spanish Steps, around the gardens of Villa Borghese, and along the Tiber river. We also spent an afternoon walking around the Trastevere neighborhood, which had a different feel to central Rome, and up the Janiculum hill for beautiful views. Roman drivers are so funny. We watched with amazement as one woman tried to reverse park next to a public hospital, holding up traffic for 10 minutes, then proceeded to use her little Fiat to nudge (i.e. bang her car into) the parked cars behind and in front. Another time a pedestrian bravely crossed a road before the signal and a guy on a scooter managed to stop just in time in front of him, before verbally blasting him with wild gesticulations - the pedestrian responded with equal animation, and neither cared they were causing a traffic jam! After long days walking about, we worked up huge appetites for what we consider to be the best pizza in the world (even better than in Naples) - crispy thin Roman pizza margheritas, a pizza that has been said to resemble the Italian flag (colour-wise, not constitutionally, that is).