Friday, April 22, 2016

Free walking tour of Rome

I have found it advantageous to go on the free walking tour that is offered in most major cities these days.  This one starts about 10 am near the Spanish steps.

I took a tram to the nearest Metro at Termini and then took the next train to the Piazza del Polpolo. Both trams and trains were very crowded, even after 9 am. I was intrigued by the wall at the station.

Market at the exit to the Metro. There have been complaints in the past about the lack of people in my photos, so here are some people. All of course are wearing the latest fashions.

For those of you who don't know Rome, the Piazza del Popolo is towards the top right. The Spanish Steps are near the Metro called Spagna. The walk heads south west and eventually crosses the river near the Vatican at the left.

This was the northern gate to the City which was surrounded by the Aurelian Walls. The road north was called the Via Flaminia.

There is also an entrance to the Villa Borghese Gardens which I will visit sometime in the next week.

The Flaminio Obelisk which was brought from Egypt.

There are three southern routes from the square separated by churches. I took the route to the left. Both churches did not appear to be open.


A narrow street but only the wealthy shop or stay here.

I liked the contrast between the bicycles and the spiffy shop windows.

Marianne wanted to know what the latest fashions are. I did not see any women walking around in anything remotely like this.

The Spanish Steps were being repaired.

Keats and Shelley lived here and Keats actually died here in 1821. Let's all recite 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' and if you have not heard of this ode, your education was sadly lacking.

The young lady spent some time preening in front of the widow. The man turned up after a while to see what was going on.

The horde of tourists. There were many tour groups.

The free tour started from the base of this column.

The Spanish Embassy.

You need lots of money to shop on this street.

Statues at the base of the column.

This boat was built in 1627 - 29 and the legend goes that the Pope at the time had it built to commemorate an actual boat that floated to this spot during a large flood.

The tour group sets off. Our leader was a forty-ish Italian lady who had a strong accent.

The story of his victory crossing the Danube somewhere near Vienna. It was completed in 193 and climbing the column was popular in the Middle Ages.

A pope had a statue of St Paul plonked on top in 1589.

I was intrigued by the open window at the top just to the right.

We were led to another piazza with the Egyptian Obelisk of Montecitorio.

Augustus brought it back to be used as a sundial in his forum but it was subsequently moved to this location.

As you might expect, Rome has plenty of these mysterious curved alleys.

I suspect that even I might be able to look good in a Carabinieri uniform like this.

We arrived at the Pantheon along with hundreds of other tourists.

I suspect someone has a lovely apartment on the top floor.

No, this was not the Pope giving the crowd his blessing.

The tour guide gave us ten minutes to go inside. Fortunately the queue was not long to get in.

The hole in the roof. 

The building is still used as an active church.

The sun coming through the hole in the roof.

There is a noticeable slope to the floor from the high point in the middle. It would be intriguing to go inside during a downpour with rain coming through the hole in the roof.

Rome has an abundance of stray columns that lurk all over the place.

We then toddled on to Piazza Navona with its famous fountain by Bernini.

The Piazza'a long shape comes from its former use as the Stadium of Domitian.

The stadium was actually at a much lower level. Much of ancient Rome is covered by meters of subsequent fill and dirt built up over the centuries. It makes underground construction very difficult since invariably traces of old Rome become apparent as digging commences.

Intriguing little car.

I could tell we were near the river when I caught sight of these trees. In the area where I am staying there are plenty of shady trees. Not so in this very old part of Rome.

Crossing the old bridge over the Tiber.

One of the ten angels that line the bridge. This is the Angel with the Whips by Morelli.

The Ponte Sant'Angelo was built in 134 AD and is the oldest in Rome. For a long time it was the only bridge and pilgrims had to use this bridge to reach St Peters.

The bridge was being repaired so everybody had to squeeze to one side.

Castel Sant'Angelo which was originally built as a Mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian who is famous in England for his wall to keep out the Scottish. The path of the wall is now a famous walk.

I see you can walk beside the river. It might be worth doing as a change from old monuments.

The guide took us close to the Vatican but apparently Vatican Square is closed a couple of mornings a week as the Pope makes an appearance. This was one of those mornings and you need a ticket to get entrance to the square. So the tour ended.

It was now afternoon and I felt the need for refreshment. My first gelato of the trip was lemon. It was ok but not great and since I plan to have more gelati over the coming days, I will give it a B rating. The price was 2 euros.

I got back to my balcony for a well deserved cold beer.

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