5-7: Depart Charles DeGaulle Airport 3:25 p.m.to Rome-Leonardo
DaVinci Airport - arrive 5:30 p.m.
5-7: Arrive Rome! Catch the train from DaVinci Airport to
Stazione Termini in Roma to Hotel Planet 29
Having "survived" the flight from San
Francisco to Paris (we vow never to try to "sleep" overnight
in an airplane again), we found the next flight to Rome in the
rambling Charles deGaulle airport and climbed onboard the next
leg of our trip to arrive in Rome. We arrived at Leonardo DaVinci
airport and saw Jackdaws (Corvus monedula), a most excellent
corvid, and Common Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) on our
train ride into Rome proper from DaVinci airport. The train ride,
aside from the birds, was a disappointment; I had hoped it would
be scenic, but all we saw were rows and rows of big dilapidated
apartment buildings. When we finally got to Stazione Termini,
we headed for Via Volturno and our hotel. We had hoped that Volturno
translated to Vulture (birds, birds, birds, is that all they think
about?), but I think it is actually someone's name.
Directly across from our hotel (in fact we could
see if the restaurant was crowded by looking out our window) was
La Famiglia restaurant where we had our first meal in Italy. Babs
had pesto (some of which is still on her blouse). The house red
wine was molto bene! At many evening meals, we were serenaded
by two guys ... one with an accordion and another with a really
beat up bass fiddle. They played the same medley, restaurant after
restaurant, night after night ... it was good though!
|You can just see the start of the La Famiglia sign on
the right next door to this door that fascinated Greg. Behind
the door there was a large interior driveway and apartment
We rested most of the next day to allow Babs
to jet lag and then it was off to the Colosseum and Forum! We
took the Metro (underground) to the Colosseum. Even though there
are only two Metro lines in Rome due to all the under ground archaeological
strata, the Romans couldn't make the Metro easy to use. We'd go
down and end up going the wrong way and every time we came up
out of the Metro near the Via Vulturno, we came out in a different
|There were speakers set up all
around the Colosseum for a free concert that Paul McCartney
was giving on the weekend. Admission was free for the Colosseum
so the place was packed...they required tickets to be allowed
inside even though admission was free...we went onto the Forum.
||Another view inside the Forum.
It was a lovely and very warm day. There were actually very
few people walking about. It was nice. We were shooting this
from outside along the walkway that surrounds the Forum.
|Greg at the Septimus Severus Arch. I hadn't realized
that there was no charge to get into the Forum and we stopped
at this marvelous arch before proceeding in. This gives a
sense of the scale of things. It was erected in A.D. 203 to
celebrate the emperor's victories in what are today Iran and
|Vestal Virgins temple to the left and Capitoline
Hill behind the columns (I think).
||Seated in a shady spot within the Forum,
viewing houses outside.
|Of course we were birding! European Blackbird (Turdus
merula) at the Forum. A member of the thrush family Turdidae.
It is related to our American Robin (Turdus migratorious).
Across from the Forum (Fori Imperiali including the Foro di
Cesare) were what is left of the Forum of Nerva and Trajan.
|Victor Emmanuel monument. Also known as the wedding cake
because it is "gaudy". It was directly behind the
Forum and could be seen from there. It is a tomb guarded by
state soldiers. There were men dressed up as gladiators and
even Caesar with a whip on the lawn just to the left of this
monument. I can only assume that they were charging money
to have your picture taken with them. There were also men
dressed as gladiators by the Colosseum.
The next day we went to the Vatican Museum to
see the Sistine Chapel. We'd planned to be there as early as possible
knowing that there would be crowds, but nowhere near what we actually
encountered! The Vatican Museum opens at 8:45 a.m. We were waiting
in line from around 8:10 and by the time they opened, the line
(at least 4 people deep) was around the block further than we
could see. Needless to say, the place was jam packed. We took
a right turn on the inside to see the Pinoteca (the rest of the
crowd went left) first which was the best part of the day. The
Pinoteca is a lovely display of smaller works chronologically
arranged along with several tapestries. We could take our time
Then we had to rejoin the crowd, unfortunately,
in order to become part of the mass procession onto the Sistine
Chapel. I had thought that you could just walk directly up to
the Raphael rooms and then onto the Sistine, but the Vatican had
the crowd controlled and marched us all the way through every
part of the rooms preceding the Sistine. It seems like every wall,
every ceiling, almost every inch of the Vatican is decorated in
some way. It felt like it took us hours to get there. The Sistine
has just recently been restored and was quite lovely, but within
the chapel it was literally wall-to-wall people. There was a Vatican
guard at the front of the room clapping his hands and shushing
people trying to make them stop talking! No picture taking was
allowed but some did it anyway ... and with flash too! Hey, we
can say we've done it now. Don't have to go back. We came out,
crossed the street and fell onto chairs at a restaurant and collapsed.
Remember, it was also quite warm in Rome--at least the high 70s.
We then recovered enough to make me think that we could go into
St. Peters...we walked over to it, saw an even bigger crowd, turned
around and left. Needless to say no pictures were taken.
|Crowds of people at the Spanish Steps.
By the time we went to see the Spanish Steps
and the Villa Borghese, the weather had gotten overcast ... even
a drop or two of rain.
|The flowers were
beautiful along the Spanish Steps, but just too many people.
||The street of designers
looking back at the Spanish Steps. (Gucci, Versace, etc.)
|View looking down Designer's street from the top of Spanish
|View of surrounding buildings from Spanish Steps
We had hoped to do a bit of birding at the Villa
Borghese above the Spanish Steps. On the way up, I saw one of
the smallest cars yet; it was so small that it could be parked
with the Vespas or put in your back pocket!
|The tiny cars in Italy were a hoot!
||This one seats two, comfortably.
The Pantheon was not a site that we could get
to on the Metro so we took a bus and got fairly lost. Had it not
been for two English travelers we met we would never have found
it at all. It was well worth finding! We also realized how much
of Rome we had been missing by taking the underground to get to
places instead of traveling above ground! Then again we might
have missed the "violinist" ... and I use the term quite
loosely ... that was sitting it the very warm Rome sun playing
so badly we almost paid him to stop.
|The Pantheon dates back to the early 2nd Century.
|You can see the guy blowing bubbles on the left; he was
selling a bubble blowing toy that also made "music"-mostly
a squeak! The crowds still hadn't found us here yet.
|Pantheon ceiling is made of poured concrete,
a Roman invention. The hole opens to the sky and is the only
source of external light within the Pantheon. The hole also
lets rain in on the Christians and tourists.
|The Pantheon's interior is simply too large to get in
one shot. It is currently serving as a Christian church
and there was a service going on when we arrived.
|And the little restaurant we sat in for several hours
just to watch the crowds. It was a very nice day. Relaxing.
|A view from our table at the restaurant outside the Pantheon.
There were an amazing number of female "redheads"
in the crowds all over Rome--they were all dye-jobs of various
shades of red from deep purple to clown-hair red. We would
point them out to each other by saying "Red alert!".
|I had been disappointed in not having seen any cats around
the Colosseum or Forum as I had last trip and finally got
a shot of this kitty as we were leaving after our day at the