Sunday, 1 September 2013

Marcus Aurelius!: Rome Day III

Rome, Italy

Just me and my pal Marcus Aurelius. 
Our third day in Rome, we went straight to the Museo Nazionale Romana after not being able to buy tickets for the Borghese - we took too long and you can't buy them on the day. However, I greatly enjoyed this museum. For one thing, Marcus Aurelius, but there were also many well preserved frescoes including a beautiful full room one below. 

It depicted a prolific garden with varieties of fruit trees, birds, and flowers. With it surrounding you on all sides, it was nothing short of breathtaking.

Pizza at Gusto. Very moreish, and amazingly not too filling - we got a tiramisu and chocolate mousse (white, milk and dark chocolate) after. Though we did walk slowly to our next destination. All the good food places were near the Spagna metro stop (alight here for Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona); it was our most used platform. 

The Piazza del Popolo was to the north of Spagna. Upon taking our first few steps in the piazza, three roses were thrust into my hands. The vendor insisted they were a present. "One for girlfriend, one for boyfriend, one for love." Deeply suspicious, I tried to give them back. After more insisting on his part, we started to walk away whereupon he followed us asking where we were from. He somehow misunderstood our answer of "New Zealand" for "Hungary", professing it was a beautiful place, and asking for just a little something for the roses. I forced them back on him and we ran away. 
There was another huge stolen obelisk here, as well as a set of matching churches. 
When another rose vendor came up trying to put a rose in my hand, I told him repeatedly no thank you and he finally walked away muttering loudly about people not accepting gifts. 

The Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano is Rome's official cathedral. In the Sistine Chapel, there seemed to be someone hired as an official shusher (you'd hear a loud "shhhhh" every half minute or so). In contrast, this Basilica just fell quiet naturally. I made Yannick take a photo of the organ, and the sound of the velcro on his camera bag was embarrassing in the silence. 
Though you probably can't tell the scale of the photo, it was monstrously big. After he took this, I whispered for him not to put the camera back or the bag would make the jarring velcro sound again. 

There were colossal statues all around, and this one caught our eye. He appears to be looking at a book as if thinking "How do you use this thing?!" while standing on an overflowing bag of money. I kept my giggles inaudible but it was a struggle. 

From there we came to another Basilica - Basilica di San Clemente. I'm not going to be able to describe this well, but I'll try. 
At street-level there was a twelfth century basilica. From there you could go a level down to an older fourth century church with some of its eleventh century paintings still visible. Deeper under that was a second century temple of Mithras, beside a first centrury Roman house. It's amazing how much people will just build on top of stuff that isn't used anymore. 

On our way back to the metro, we were a little thirsty and enquired to the price of a lemonade at a cafe. (We learned to do this after being heartily ripped off the day before.) We declined when we heard the price and began walking down the road. The waiter stopped us and told us conspiratorially that there was a supermarket just down the road with much cheaper drinks. What a cool guy. 

Watching a man get increasingly frustrated at a slot machine in the train station concluded our last day in Rome. We could have filled many more days exploring the splendours of Roma that we ran out of time for. Perhaps we'll return one day.