Day 6 - 01/07/2002 - Italy
Travelled to Frank's house to go into the city. The car trip was another experience in itself. There was a major accident on the motorway, which does not surprise me (considering the way they drive), then we witnessed a car accident right before our eyes (the two cars in front of us) and later in the day we were involved in our first car accident (which was unfortunately inevitable), however we are all fine since I am writing this diary entry from somewhere other than a hospital bed.
We went into the city with my cousin Fausto and his girlfriend Alessandria (and at night we were joined by my other cousin Marco and his cousin). The public transport system was reasonable, with trains running every few minutes, but buses taking a little longer. However, we did most of the day on foot, because there are so many significant landmarks near each other.
Rome city is absolutely amazing, words and even picture can not describe the awe of this place. It actually sent shivers down my spine (and tears to my eyes) as I walked around and saw man-made structures that were built (and used) before then time of Christ. It is truly fascinating to be able to walk on the same floor and touch the same walls that other people were touching thousands of years ago. Even something as simple as the roads and thew walkways was impressive, because you could see that it was made up of countless little (and sometimes big) stones that would have been laid thousands of years ago - you can even still see the marks made by chariot wheels! To think and feel that these same roads were being ridden on by chariots is remarkable. This history is something we simply do not have in Australia - our buildings are (at most) 200 years old ... you can only experience this amazing sensation by physically being present at this site (as you can probably tell, this impressed me more than I thought it would).
Obviously, the appearance of these landmarks is breathtaking and some of the structures are so massive in size. It is interesting to know how/why some of these structures were built. Often the reason for building such massive structures, was so that the "ruler" of that time could build something bigger and better that there predecessor (to show how good they were) - the Colosseum is a good example of this.
MOVIE: War Memorial Area [MPG 150KB]
We saw the Pantheon, which was unbelievable, the restorations done to this building make it look as though it is as fresh today as it probably was when it was built.
MOVIE: Pantheon [MPG 600KB]
The Colosseum (where the movie Gladiator was based) was amazing, however, although the exterior has been relatively swell restored, the interior does not look like how I expected it to look. It is very eroded, for obvious reasons, but this did not bother me, because it was interesting to see how time has marked this structure.
MOVIE: Colosseum [MPG 160KB], Colosseum Fighting [MPG 330KB], Roman Road And Cats Of The Colosseum [MPG 310KB]
The "Italian Forum" was fantastic. It is a massive area filled with ruins from thousands of years ago. Some structures are in amazing good condition, considering the length of time they have been there - other buildings are obviously only partial, and it is fascinating to consider how grand it all would have looked years ago.
MOVIE: Italian Forum [MPG 370KB]
For lunch we had some pizza from their fast food pizza chain and the quality of the pizza was fantastic. It is no comparison to Australian pizza - I can not understand why we can not replicate the beauty of these pizzas back home - it can not be that hard can it?
Afterwards, we had some Gelato. My cousin's friend owns the shop that won the prize for the "best chocolate gelato in Italy"! and the gelato really did live up to my expectation. Greg had already ordered his second gelato before I had started on my first.
At night we travelled back into the city by car ... another experience. I agree with Greg, that some people complain about the driving in Asian countries, but the difference is that although the driving in Asian countries can be chaotic, the speed is not so great - however, in Italy it is chaotic and the speed is great. Accidents are inevitable, and we were in our first accident - fortunately, only a small one. The driver behind us ran into the back of the car. When my cousin got out of the car to talk to him, the driver from behind complained that it was my cousins fault because my cousin put his foot on the brake! I think the guy from behind did not have much of a case.
Eventually, we got into the city and saw the famous Trevi fountain (strangely hidden in the backstreets, but you can hear it from a distance). The workmanship on these statues was brilliant and flowing water was mesmerising. We then proceeded to visit many fountains, which I appreciated, but Greg (who was getting tired) tried to explain to my cousins "if you've seen one fountain, you've seen them all" I don't think they understood the joke/phrase until we passed the Pantheon for millionth time and Greg said "if you've seen one Pantheon, you've seen them all"
If there is one other thing that I could have brought with me on my trip, I would have brought a foot masseuse - most days have involved a lot of walking and my feet at the end of the day are really looking forward to a rest. Maybe all this walking will help me loose some weight? But that is a bit hard with all the tempting food that is continually being shoved down our throats.
I am so appreciative of everything that my relatives have been doing for me. They have been so generous and I know I will remember these days for the rest of my life.