Friday, February 03, 2006

Rome-Monday, 1/30/06

Our trip to Rome was absolutely wonderful! No, not wonderful, spectacular! We crammed in every one of the sights we had wanted and planned to see, and then some, all in just 2.5 days. And the weather was just perfect! Needless to say, by Thursday, we were exhausted. We took 258 pictures (which will NOT all be posted). This post covers our first half-day in Rome. Enjoy the pictures!

This amazing view is from the plane as we flew over the Swiss Alps on our way to Rome! Can you believe it?

We took a shuttle bus into the city from the airport, and our first adventure began. We had to figure out where to buy biglietti (tickets) for the city transport system, then find out where to pick up the bus that would take us by the hotel. It took just 15 minutes or so to work it out, but it happened without too much trouble.

Hotel Sant'Angelo (like many of the hotels in Rome) is actually a semi-converted apartment building (or a hotel that sold out part of its building like a condo to other tenants). Only some designated rooms are for the hotel patrons.

Here's a very tired Danny in our (extremely warm) hotel room. (Eventually, we figured out how to open a window!)

After dropping off our luggage at the hotel, we got back onto the streets to make our first visit: the Basillica of San Paolo Fuori le Mura (St. Paul's Without the Walls, as the British call it; what holds the roof up, I wonder?) We walked about half a mile, across the Tiber at the Ponte Cavour, to the Metro station at the Scala Spagna (Spanish Steps). Like the Trevi Fountain, this site was built for tourists. Unfortunately, the Scala was dug up, boarded up, and generally pretty ugly due to some extensive renovation taking place. (E' un pecatto!) So we descended into the Metro station and rode the train south to San Paolo. Above is a picture of the front of the church. In case the scale of the building is in question, you can see two figures walking just in front of it in the center of the photo.

These next three pictures are of the beautiful atrium just inside the colonnade. There is an immense statue of St. Paul in the center of the courtyard; he is flanked by majestic palm trees, and the pediment of the roof of the church above the atrium is covered in gold leaf and mosaic.

As it was near sunset, the interior of the Basillica was dark, so this picture does no justice to the main altar.

Here is a view of the cloister off the left transept. Notice the beautiful mosaic tiling on these posts.

This is a night picture of Castel Sant'Angelo, built to be Hadrian's mausoleum, and later made a fortress for the city in medieval times. The castle is located in between our hotel (duly called Hotel Sant'Angelo) and the Vatican.

Here are three pictures of Saint Peter's Basillica taken at night, the first from the River Tiber looking up the Via della Conciliazione. Notice that the Creche is still set up, and it's January 30th! We believe they will take it down on Friday, after the Feast of the Presentation (of Jesus in the Temple).


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