Friday, March 23, 2007

Roma! - Monday.

Monday started with some aching limbs after some serious walking on Saturday and Sunday, but with the skies still blue and the temperatures still in the mid 60's it was a perfect day to head off out being tourists once more.

Today we were heading to the Vatican to see Catholic Head Office. An easy trip from our hotel on the Metro, fortunately. We weren't really feeling up to another heavy duty walking day.

During our pit stop for caffe latte and pastries on the way towards the Vatican, though, we nearly had a disaster. Missy turned her ankle a while ago and it's been a bit temperamental ever since. While sitting drinking coffee, she moved and it went again. Oops. She wasn't able to put any weight on it at all, which was going to be a problem, even if we were only going to try and find a taxi to take us back to the hotel. There's a pharmacy every couple of hundred metres in Italy (I must find out if they're as hypochondriac as the pharmacy-density implies) so I headed off for bandages and some ibuprofen. As expected, it was a short trip, and I was only away for fifteen minutes or so. Fortunately in that time whatever had popped out on Missy's ankle popped back in again. As a precaution we strapped her up and she had a couple of ibuprofen in case there was any inflammation developing. Amazingly we didn't have much problem after that.

But I digress.

St Peter's Square looks impressive on the TV. Close up it's clear that if Gian Lorenzo Bernini was aiming for awe-inspiring when he designed the piazza and surrounding colonnades, he succeeded. Huge, symmetrical, dazzling marble. Wow.

Suitably impressed, we thought we'd head into the CEO's building - St Peter's Basilica. As ever, Wikipedia's St Peter's entry saves you the excesses of my prose.

Remember the Basilica di Constantino in the forum and the octagonal reliefs? Well Michaelangelo and Bernini were so impressed by them that they pretty much copied the design wholesale. The barrel vaulting of St Peter's shows what the Law Courts of Rome must have looked like 1300 years earlier.

And here's the man himself, holding the keys to heaven. Funny, he doesn't look like your typical doorman.

We'd planned to head off to the Vatican Museum for the afternoon, but the lure of a decent meal hijacked us, so we were forced to sit and watch the world go by in Piazza Navona while eating pasta and drinking wine. Shame that.

Piazza Navona stands on the sight of an old stadium, you know. The shape is still the elongated running-track shape of the classic Roman chariot racing circuit.