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Valentine's special: The glories of Rome

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Valentine's special: The glories of Rome

Visiting Rome and trying to decide what to see first...

The choice is enormous for this is a city where every street, every piazza contains something worth seeing.

Rome is a photographer’s dream. Every street corner, every piazza has something new to see and photograph. Justly described as the Eternal City, this is a place to marvel, amaze and be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things to see.

We simply had to prioritize and choose.  What first? The Vatican or the Colosseum?  Whichever we chose, there was the prospect of long queues for these are the most sought after sights in Rome.  Fortunately, we could get tickets in advance, which meant we could skip the long wait. 

The Colosseum has to be top of anyone’s list. A gigantic, awe-inspiring structure, it looms over the centre of the city. Dating back to Ancient Rome; the massive four storey walls give a sense of just how huge this place must have been.  Over 55,000 spectators watched gladiatorial games and wild animal fights within the 188m long, 156m wide building.  Even today as it lies in ruins, we could still see the sheer size of the arena. We were not surprised that thousands of people visit it every day.

A short walk led us to the next must-see location: The Vatican.  A separate state within Rome; it is guarded by the Swiss Guards in their sixteenth century uniforms (surely there must be some more modern guards involved somewhere?). 

St Peter’s Square seems to stretch out forever. This is where thousands of people gathered to watch the election of the Pope earlier this year.  Now it is filled with tourists and the continual parade of clergy crossing from one building to another. 

Built in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, St Peter’s Square is constructed on the spot where the Roman Emperor Nero sent many Christians – including St Peter – to their deaths.  Crossing to the great Obelisk in the centre of the square, we were amused to discover an unusual feature.  All around the square are four rows of columns – but if you stand in just the right spot (conveniently indicated by a stone) all the rows combine into just one!

Time to visit the Basilica – one of the great treasure houses of Rome.  Built on a massive scale to accommodate over 20,000 people during services; the problem is trying to get all of it into one photo – after all, the façade is 114m wide and 47m high.

Inside, the smell of burning candles and incense fills the air. Visitors exclaim in numerous languages about the statues and pictures that surround them.  There are hundreds of stunning works of art such as Michelangelo’s Pieta. 

Above all soared the Dome of St Peter’s. Outside it looks impressive, standing underneath it we felt like ants.  It is so large. A guidebook gave the measurements – 42 metres in diameter and 136m high. A stairway led upwards. We climbed and climbed. It seemed to take forever but it was worth it in the end. Stumbling out into the sunlight, the panoramic views across Rome were unbelievable.  It also showed just how much more there was to see in Rome – one day is not enough!

Picture credit: Fototeca ENIT

 

 

 

 

 

 

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