Thoughts and other Miscellany

Rome, days 3 and 4

We’re still here, so this blog is going to keep having holiday updates for now.

Day 3: A LOT of churches. Well, I suppose only 3, but they were all basilicas (basilicae? basilice?) so they took at least half an hour each to look around (in fact, we spent nearly 2 hours at one). They were St Paul’s Outside the Walls, Santa Maria Maggiore, and St John in Lateran (including a little stop to see the Scala Santa). Loads of photos but they are marooned on the iPhone so just this one which I put up on Instagram and totally doesn’t do justice to the scale and majesty of these buildings.

St Paul'sMore photos later, I suppose. There was clearly a fashion at some point for enormous, more-than-lifesize statues in white marble of the Apostles (lots of them at St John in Lateran). They were my favourite part of the day.

Also a nifty little fact – all three of these basilicas have extra-territorial status for the Vatican, i.e. they are in Italy, rather than the Holy See, but they have the same legal status as embassies. How cool is that?

Also I conquered the Metro ticketing machines. It was a hard-fought battle, but I won.

Day 4: got off to a rocky start with the water pressure in the hotel having gone entirely, but eventually we got underway on a day of a lot of walking: through the Piazza (I can’t type that without typing it as “pizza” first!) in front of St Peter’s dodging street hawkers to the Metro, over to the Colosseum for a quick peek at that and the Constantine Arch, then up to the monument to Victor Emanuel I (me: “I want a monument that impressive in my memory after I die,” the Physicist: “Then I need a job that pays more”).

Lots of stairs and pizza later, the church of St Ignatius of Loyola (another very fancy church), the Trevi Fountain (under scaffolding and now featuring a hideous plastic walkway – disappointing), the Spanish steps (also not hugely impressive absolutely covered in tourists and a massive advertisement at the top) and Santa Maria del Popolo, which has two famous Caravaggio paintings, but was otherwise a bit underwhelming compared to the other churches of the last few days. Gelato on the way home from the Metro, obviously.

Back home again tomorrow. It’s been a great couple of days!

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