Saturday 29th October
Forgot to show you a photo of the pitch that the site tried to give us. Some of you will be asking why is there a bush in the middle of the pitch. Anyone who has been to Italy will know that the bush is in between two pitches. We have parked five pitches up from here and are well situated in a massive 4m x 8m pitch next door to a couple from Leigh on Sea. Obviously they think they are Caravan Club material and would rather not pass the time of day with us. We don’t care because we know some people from Leigh and if they haven’t, they should, be kicked out of the Caravan Club.
We have two guide books for Italy and one of them says that if you only go to one place in Rome it should be San Clemente tucked around the back of the Coloseum. Eventually we found the place and ventured in. The photo security here was top notch and you can see. Three blokes supervising half a dozen visitors and none of them caught me snapping away, they were the worst photo stasi that we’ve found so far (or I’m getting better). So why come here, it’s just a fairly run of the mill basilica? What you can see here dates from the 12th century so it’s very old. The marble screens to the left are 600 years older than that! But then there is more. There are references to this church in manuscripts from 392AD but in 1857 a Cardinal from Boston realised that the church that he could see couldn’t possibly have been there in 300AD so he gets out his shovel and starts digging. (No cameras, shovels are fine).
He starts digging down (or his minions started digging more like) and found a church underneath the Basilica. It does start getting very dark down here so I have had to use every trick in the book I know to get something to look at. This is the most ornate column that we have seen so far, and it was just buried under tons of rubble.
Christ giving a blessing to two kneeling figures, St Cyril and St Methodius. This is from 392ADso 1600 years old and still very recognisable.
And another fresco from that era. Cut the heads off because there were guides down here and I thought they might be in league with the photo stasi upstairs.
This shows you the height of the building constructed in 392 AD.
And then we go downstairs and find a first century tempe dedicated to Mithras.
We are 30 feet below floor level now looking down an alley from the first century. The whole of Rome is just layer upon layer of buildings some of which are in fantastic condition.
An ancient spring in what is believed to be the Old Mint next door tot he temple to Mithras.
All of these floors have been dated to the third century.
Another quick sneaky camera man shot before we left. Photo stasi had just gone out for a smoke – that’ll teach him!!
Next stop – Circus Maximus where we partook of a packed lunch of vegetable couscous and a couple of clementines – we know how to live! The path in front of us is raised up, the grass slopes down either side to the race track and then either side of the tracks are the grass slopes where the audience would have sat to watch the races.
And all by herself, Lucy doing her gladiator impression – Rome Alone is my title for this picture.
And another shot, not a lot to say about it other than I like it.
By now we had reached the River Tiber and moving upstream we come across this large building sat on an island in the river. One of the guide plaques tells us that here there used to be lots of mills (water, flour, cotton – they didn’t say) which were all sat on their own floating rafts. Eventually in the 1800’s a catastrophic flood swept them all away so the island was created so that they could continue operating.
One feature that we both liked were the trees (London Planes?) which were overhanging the river giving plenty of shade.
I have a destination in mind so after moving away from the Tiber we accidentally came across this place. The cat sanctuary, look closely, there is a prize for the correct number of cats visible.
Lucy keeps saying, “Let’s go to the Parthenon”, I keep saying “That’s in Greece, you silly twit – will the Pantheon do?”.
Once she gets inside she realises that it was the only building that she really wanted to see in Rome.
Selfie number two.
So that is another tick off our top one million things we’ve got to see before next Tuesday. There were signs inside saying no photos and it was a place of worship but there were no guards and everyone was happy taking photos and talking to each other , it just felt so much more comfortable than the Sistine Chapel yesterday where the guards were so officious (and non effective).
And another tick just up the road from the Pantheon. Big masses of people but they all seemed to be in the narrowest of places and once you’d punched your way through them there was plenty of space.
Trevi Fountain in case you hadn’t realised. Lots of seats you could have spent hours here, nice bit of sunlight and do some people watching.
I’d always thought that my parents had bought me here as a kid, they did take us to lots of places and it was always a source of pride to me that I had been to many countries in Europe whilst my fellow school mates had never left Essex (and for some of them that is still the case) but on this one they tricked me into throwing a coin into some other fountain.
Last destination of the day – just underneath all of those people is the Spanish Steps!
Selfie number 3, I’m starting to get the hang of them now after seeing so many Japanese tourists waving them about. Alan Graham – this is proper ice cream, none of your Mr Whippy stuff here. Can you see the forced grin on my face after having spent €12 – that’s nearly two pints of gnats piss worth.
As we walk back to the train station we start seeing lots of flags with political party names on them and reaching Plaza dei Popolo we see hundreds of political supporters all waving flags and walking round a bit like follow my leader. I thought it was rather exciting but Lucy being ever sensible and us not knowing what they were all supporting seemed a bit anxious.
I tried to reassure her that this was the Democratic Peoples Party and if they wanted to beat us up they would have to have a vote first. You can guess how that went down!
Back at the site and we’ve had to do a little shop to get me through the weekend. Red beer from Carrefour. It looks like beer, it nearly tastes like beer and I will have to get some in to celebrate Xmas – why is it called 8.6 Red when it is only 7.9% (only 7.9% – it is rather good – hic).
When we get back to Frankie our neighbours tell us that the Italians are having a Bank Holiday Monday next Tuesday so we have a slight dilemma. When we left the site this morning there were 20 motorhomes here. Now there are over one hundred vans. Will they all be taking Monday off work? Will all the sostas be full up, should we stay here or move on? Why didn’t they all bugger off work on Friday and make a very long weekend out of it, what were they doing this morning? We have so many questions, so many decisions, not enough alcohol to last. We’ll muddle through but tomorrow is a day of rest – for Lucy anyway, I still have all my chores to do.