Sunday 27th July 2014, 12.05pm (day 1,067)
She’s certainly going for it as if it might be. Like us, this lady was in the departure lounge of Fiumicino airport, but, I suspect, leaving her home country rather than returning to it.
Last full day in Rome. The Forum was the heart of the ancient city and this picture is meant to epitomise some kind of glorious decay, the ruins of the Eternal City left to moulder pleasantly away, returning to nature or whatever. Of course it’s nothing like this. Really it’s just a big park with thousands of tourists swarming over it daily. But it does have a certain grandeur. It’s been a good trip here, a fine city, I recommend it should you ever get the chance.
I said a few days ago that this blog would soon feature its 20th country, so here you go — the world’s smallest independent state, the Vatican City. Also the state with, almost certainly, the highest proportion of tourists to residents. And probably the world’s largest art gallery. This is one of the ‘Raphael rooms’, decorated by said artist in the 16th century, slightly before Michelangelo painted the more famous (and even more crowded) Sistine Chapel.
And is the Vatican worth a visit? Well, it’s certainly the most sumptuous interior decoration in the world. But it does depend how much you like looking at a) excessive displays of wealth and status and b) other people.
Lots seen today. Visited Ostia Antica, the port of ancient Rome, an extremely extensive site which once again emphasises the sheer scale of the old city. But though I had a couple of candidate photos from there, this one wins; we went to the Trastevere district for an excellent meal and I took this on the way back. What you see here is the island in the centre of the Tiber that is one reason Rome is here, as it makes for an easier crossing point on the river, that then flows through Ostia on its way to the Mediterranean and the rest of the world.
If you know Rome, you know the Trevi fountain I am sure, at least by reputation. Over-the-top baroque wedding cake of a water feature, throw a coin in you will come back to Rome, Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita etc. Well, at the moment it’s surrounded by scaffolding and being repaired, at least in part by this jolly chap, which I’m sure will give all you Romanophiles pause for thought.
First full day in Rome. It would be easy here to slip into just doing a series of photos of the tourist sights. Today we saw the Colosseum (impressive, but as expected, heaving with people), the Baths of Caracalla (stupendously impressive, and with a notable absence of coach parties) and the Palatine Hill.
The latter was worth visiting but notable for being the place where we were caught in a severe thunderstorm for an hour or so, which is when I took this shot, of these two Chinese women in their waterproof ponchos (being touted at €5 each while it was raining), in the first of the two spots in which we tried to avoid the rain. I like the strange positioning of the hand of the one in green, and yes, her friend is standing on one leg at this point.
I may not have mentioned I am in Rome this week, but here we are — the 19th country to appear on this blog in its three years (and the 20th will come on Friday, if the schedule works out). Expect to see more than one ancient Roman monument appear on this site over the next few days, I love all this stuff. This is Trajan’s Column, erected to commemorate the victories of the eponymous emperor in Dacia, modern-day Romania (hence the name of that country). The column is 30 metres high, and the carvings on it form a continuous frieze of nearly 200 metres long, with lots of detail depicting Trajan’s victory. Note the heads on spears in the centre of this image.