Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Roma day 2 - follow the nuns

Did I mention yesterday how wonderful our hotel is? It is beautiful, so central and yet totally quiet and the bed really comfy so we slept well. 
Today we started out meeting Don at the Trevi Fountain, it was a 1km walk for us and 2km walk for him and our itinery was to stay over this side of the city. Sadly he got lost - sorry Don telling the world - and was very late meeting us in this crazy tourist hell of a place. 
Try looking for someone when it's packed like this. We were already expecting the Trevi to be surrounded and covered with scaffold so kinda expected less people - seems not. 

We were all hot and tired so headed towards the Pantheon stopping for a smoothly at a place we thought very Samantha like, raw food. 

Then the first queuing experience of Rome began. Granted the queue moved along. There are signs everywhere saying beware of pick pockets but every fountain had at least 2 Fountain police (my name for them) and every building had more. I became kinda obsessed with the police today. People who have been here recently - has it always been like this? The armed offenders guys everywhere, 2 paddy wagons at the Spanish Steps tonight, multiple cars around and many very heavily guarded buildings today. I think there was something going on, helicopters, convoys of cars and hundreds of the really armed guys. 

Next we moved to Piazza Narvona and snuck into this awesome Basilica with no photo signs - I took one sneaky one but everyone else was taking them overtly. 

The fountain by Bernini (who is credited with creating the Baroque style of sculpture) from 1651 Fountana Del Quatro Fiumi is very cool. 
I was fascinated with the faces of the dudes. 

It was 12:30 so the basilica closed and we headed towards the Vatican City via a scenic route. Here are a few scenes from our wandering somewhat randomly - some of this reminded us of walking in Venice. 

With temperatures over 30 now a caffeine and food break was in order. Nice spot by the river with loads of locals incl more cops and ambulance crews. 

Final stretch into Vatican City. Here we discovered the nifty trick - follow the nuns - to keep us alive on pedestrian crossings, nobody tries to run them over. I didn't feel good taking pics of the many many groups of nuns, there were many. 

Hawkers galore selling group tickets and the usual selfie sticks along the way. Then we saw it. The longest queue we have ever seen. 
It snakes all the way around the circular construct. I took a panorama but can't seem to post here. Tour groups and individuals all standing in the sun to go through security. The Pope did his thing this morning so there were still barriers section in off the piazza with big screens and chairs around the place. Some (we think) Cardinal was out walking around with guards and talking to people. There were other guards posing for photos and again loads of police. Biggest change from 25 years ago - other than the queuing and security - a Post shop out in the piazza. 

We walked another 13km today and in the heat. We left the Vatican Cuty and found Gluten Free heaven. A Gelato shop with GF comes and all GF gelato plus a totally GF restaurant! 
Gelato shop very cute. 

Then as we ate gelato from a cone I came across a 100% Gluten Free restaurant! In love. Sadly by dinner time I was too exhausted to walk back there but we did fulfil one of my Italy goals and had gluten free pizza for dinner. Yum. 

Before the yummy dinner we all had a wee nap in the beautiful room and ate Steve's birthday chocolates. Don then headed back to the hostel and we strolled around the Spanish Steps area. Steve is learning all about high end brands now. He admires a thing and if there is a security guard speculates we won't be let into the store or if there is a price list seems shocked every time. 
Rachel We found you a shoe store:

The steps are always covered in people it seems. Many eating their McDonalds and drinking a beer which is a great cheap dinner. 

Post dinner another stroll around expensive shop windows then finding we were too late for the supermarket shopping in a wine store where I tasted lots. The city is splendid at night and it's night time I wish we had brought our camera as the iPhone doesn't do the beautiful lanes justice. 

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