Seabourn 'Pride' Cruise - November 2012
Rome to Athens
Wednesday 7th November
Rome

Our flight to Rome wasn't scheduled to depart until 10am, so we didn't have to get up until 6am, quite late for us!


We arrived in Rome to find it very pleasantly warm with clear blue skies. We'd pre-arranged a car to pick us up and take us to our B&B near the Colosseum. After a very informative chat with the proprietress about places to visit we went straight out for a bite to eat at a nearby café.


We then walked to the nearby church of St. John Lateran which, we discovered was the seat of the popes until the exile in Avignon, after which they moved to the Vatican. Like most Italian churches it is internally immaculately maintained and decorated, which makes you wonder why on earth the Italians seem to take such little care of non-ecclesiastical buildings.


(click on photos to enlarge)
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Our B&B
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St. John Lateran
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St. John Lateran
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St. John Lateran
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St. John Lateran
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St. John Lateran
We then boarded one of those little electric-powered buses that seat only about ten people and headed off across town to the Piazza del Popolo. The little church on the edge of the piazza is unremarkable except that it has not one but two paintings by Caravaggio. These are in a small chapel next to the altar, set facing each other on opposite walls, with a comparitively poor painting by someone else on the wall between them. Mind you, not many paintings could stand direct comparison with two Caravaggios!

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Baptistry of St. John Lateran
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Piazza del Popolo
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Santa Maria,
Piazza del Popolo
We then went down to the Trevi fountain to see what it looks like at night, before wandering through the dark but busy streets to a Michelin-listed restaurant that had been recommended to us. It had an extensive display of fresh cheeses in the window that was extremely inviting, and after a nice meal we had the 'four Italian cheeses' option. These were served with a clear honey and a home-made orange marmelade – delicious.

On our way to the restaurant an eagle-eyed Gill had spotted a bus stop for one of the routes that would take us all the way home, so we were back in our room within half an hour of leaving.

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Trevi fountain
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Basilica di San Clemente
Thursday 8th November

After a simple breakfast we walked the short distance to the Basilica di San Clemente. This was a really interesting church that had elements of pre-Christian, Byzantine design. It also had two layers of occupation below it, with an area devoted to the cult of Mithras and also living accommodation built around a still-active spring. It was just a little creepy being so far below ground level.

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Deep beneath Basilica di San Clemente
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Basilica di San Clemente
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Colosseum
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Forum
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Foro Traiano with Trajan's Column
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Trajan's Column
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Foro Traiano
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Rooftop view across Rome
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Cat Sanctuary at Torre Argentina
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Cat Sanctuary at Torre Argentina
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Cat Sanctuary at Torre Argentina
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Cat Sanctuary at Torre Argentina
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Cat Sanctuary at Torre Argentina
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Cat Sanctuary at Torre Argentina
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Glass floors at Domus Romane
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Glass floors at Domus Romane
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Pantheon
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Pantheon
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Eating out near our B&B

Friday 9th November

After breakfast we caught the bus into the city centre, heading for the church of San Luigi di Francesi, which houses three Caravaggios. We got off the bus quite close to Piazza Navona so we diverted to see the restored fountain that had been behind hoardings the last time we visited. In today's glorious autumn sunlight it looked absolutely wonderful.

The Caravaggios were gorgeous, set on three sides of an alcove. As is often the case you had to put a coin in a slot to illuminate the gloom around them, but there was such a crowd of visitors that this wasn't a problem for us free-loaders!

Checking the TripAdvisor site on my mobile showed that there was another church not far away that would be worth visiting. The church of St. Ignatius of Loyola has the most amazing fresco on the ceiling, with almost 3D effects giving apparent depth to the paintings. There's also a clever circular 'trompe l'oeil' painting on the ceiling that tricks you into thinking that you're looking up into a dome.

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Piazza Navona
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Piazza Navona
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Piazza Navona
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Piazza Navona
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San Luigi dei Francesi
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San Luigi dei Francesi
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Basilica of St. Ignatius of Loyola
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Basilica of St. Ignatius of Loyola
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Spanish Steps

By now it was nearly 1pm and time to head along the Corso for lunch at another restaurant that had been recommended to us. It was just what we needed, with a flat rate €14 charge for a selection of hot and cold buffet dishes plus bread and mineral water.

Nicely refreshed we then walked through Piazza del Popolo and up to the Borghese Gardens where we found a bench in sunlight and stopped to read our books. We both nodded off at various points, so maybe we've been overdoing it!

At 4pm we decided to go back to our B&B. We were lucky to catch one of those little electric buses almost immediately and were 'home' only half an hour later.

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Spanis Steps
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Babington's Tea House
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Babette's
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Babette's
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View from the Borghese Gardens
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View from the Borghese Gardens

This morning we'd e-mailed the proprietor's son, Federico, to ask him to arrange a taxi for us for tomorrow morning to take us to the Termini railway station. The plan was to take a train from there to Civitavecchia, where we'd get another taxi to the ship. Fedorico said that this would cost €20, but made another suggestion – why not get a taxi all the way from our B&B to our ship? This would cost €100, but wouldn't be wildly more expensive than hiring two taxis and paying for train tickets. We gave this only a couple of seconds thought before accepting his plan ;o)

Tonight we'll go to yet another nearby restaurant that's been recommended to us. We've had a lovely time in Rome!

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View from the Borghese Gardens



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