Sunday, October 14, 2007


Day Two of the Great Italian Adventure

We made an early start on day two and since we didn't want to wear ourselves out before we reached the forum, we walked around the corner to the Piazza del Popolo and picked up a cab. The driver dropped us in the perfect spot.

Watching all those programmes about the Romans on the television hadn't been wasted. I immediately spotted Trajan's market -- on the other side of a four lane highway, Augustus's forum was to the left of it. But below us lay the big deal. The glory that was Rome.

Everyone had told me that the forum was "small" and, admittedly, on the television you only see that little bit with stubs of columns. Listen. I've walked around it. It is not small! There's enough there to keep a body captivated for days.

The Curia Julia, the tomb of Romulus, the temple Augustus built in honour of his uncle, the deified Julius Caesar which, following his defeat of Anthony at Acteum, he adorned with the rostra of Anthony's ships.

My photographs don't do it justice but the dh is hors d'combat with a cold picked up on the plane home so his will have to wait until he's feeling better.

This is the arch of Titus. Those of you who enjoy Lindsey Davis's Marcus Didio Falco books will remember him as the irritating son of Vespasian.

We met a charming American couple whilst admiring the Arch. Seeing we had a guide book, they stopped to ask if we spoke English.

A bit, we admitted and paused for a chat; these unexpected meetings of mind are one of the joys of travelling.

We didn't make it up to the Palatine. When they talk about the seven hills of Rome, believe me they aren't joking. That was one hill too many and we'd already worn our legs down to the knees.

We paused to take a look at Vespasian's greatest monument, the Coloseum, which is right next door to the forum. We'd already driven around it twice. There were about a milion visitors swarming around it and despite the fact that the dh's engineering soul longed to look at the gubbins, neither of us was capable of walking another step.

We didn't get to visit the Domus Aurea, either. That's another place that requires an advance appointment to see.

Never mind. Next time.

When Augustus defeated Anthony and Cleopatra, he took possession of the Egyptian treasury (he paid his army for three decades on the spoils and there was so much money in Rome -- all those returning soldiers with ten years pay in their pockets -- that the moneylenders had to reduce their rates from 12 to 4 per cent). He also brought home a few souvenirs. Obelisks seem to have been a favourite. They are everywhere.

After a pause for breath we did make it to an art gallery. It was the wrong art gallery. Worse, once we'd got in there, we couldn't find out way out. I didn't like anything I saw hanging on the walls, but I did like a notice informing visitors "What To Do in an Earthquake". The first instruction was "Do Not Panic".

Fans of "Dad's Army" will understand why I'm still grinning.

Dinner was at a pavement cafe. There is a photograph, taken by a kindly German gent, but it's out of focus. A pity. It's probably the only photograph taken of me in the last two weeks in which I'm not flushed with exertion!


Kate Hardy said...

I really wish I'd stowed away in your suitcase (as excess baggage, naturally *g*). These are all places I'd love to visit (except that art gallery - hmm, my taste leans more to 19th century and most definitely not modern).

Smiling at the "do not panic". Can't quite see you or your DH as Clive Dunn, though...

Fiona Harper said...

These photos are just gorgeous! Is there room in the suitcase for me as well next time?

Anne McAllister said...

You're wearing me out, Liz! And I'd volunteer to be part of the luggage, too, next time, but I fear you'll be even more tired if you're lugging all of us along with you.

Liz Fielding said...

I'd so love to have you all in my luggage, despite the fact that I was in excess on my way out (how can a girl choose between all those shoes?) I don't even want to talk about coming home. :)