This was the first time I'd been in another country where I don't speak the language, and that first half hour? Super confusing, and I was super intimidated. All the signs are in Italian, so I wandered around the terminal following the little baggage symbols on the signs. Which sadly, got me in the wrong place. Baggage carousel, yes. Luggage, no. After finding an american couple wandering around doing the same thing, the lady asked the terminal staff where our bags where. Apparently we were in Terminal One, and needed to be in Terminal Three. Nice. Even more crazy was that there was no immigration. They pointed us in the direction of the door and we stepped out, completely side stepping any immigration or customs process at all. Bizarre! Even more mad was walking down to Terminal Three, and having to go through security again to get my bags. It was an absolute nightmare of a process. Which is why I was glad that I'd forseen this (I really am a terrible traveller) and had booked a transfer from the airport to the hotel.
I've never been more glad to see a man holding a sign with my surname in my life. He didn't speak any English. I didn't speak any Italian. I nodded when he said the name of my hotel, and he picked up my bags and off we went. It was an absolutely hilarous ride. I'd point to a building that looked fancy, and he'd tell me in Italian what it was. He talked and talked and talked, and I'm sure I saw alot of very famous things. Instead I was amazed at their size, and how detailed and truely magnificent they were. Honestly, everything I'd ever heard about Rome was revealed to be true in that first car ride.
I was stoked to meet Sibling in Rome - she had checked in just before I did. After a few weeks of travelling about by myself, I was glad to be travelling with some, and a family member! I was less stoked with the time difference. Local time was just after lunch, and I couldn't keep my eyes open. I managed what felt like it should be dinner (a brilliant pizza, yeah!) before my body did me in, and I slept for 18 hours.
The next day we set out for the Colessuem. The great thing about where we were staying? It was within walking distance of everything. So we walked. I felt like we were just wandering about the city, stopping to buy a bottle of water, or a pastry or whatever. And then you come round a corner, and there it is. This giant, instantly recognizable building. It honestly was awe inspiring, it was huge. Gianormous.
We hit up the Forum Ruins first, which was right next to the collessuem. It was apparently where the Roman Empire was run from. Lots of ruins, and quite interesting. We didn't want pay 5 Euro for a photo with the dressed up guards, so we didn't. Instead we took a bunch of sneaky shots, and laughed at the men wearing tights.
We went on a tour of the Colessuem (literally as we were walking around we were asked if we spoke English, and if we wanted to go on a tour. Most convenient tour I've ever been on) which was awesome. I'm glad we did, because we wouldn't have known half the stuff just wandering around. Things like where to look to see the original decorations (what tiny little slivers were left), or that the pited holes weren't from erosion, but that once the roman empire fell, scanvangers came and stole the iron that was used to hold all the blocks together. Also? The entire thing was covered in marble, with marble statues in every window. What stands now is only a mere 30%, so that's alot of marble. Scavangers took the marble to make limestone, which was used to make concrete. It seems crazy that something as magnificent as the colesseum was broken down so they could make concrete. Madness.
The Forum Ruins
We spent that afternoon shopping, which was novel. While we were browsing stores, people would come up to us with some product or another and start speaking in very quick Italian. We'd smile, and shake our heads and move on - but it was very different to how shop assistants help back home. There was also the shoe stores! I wanted a pair of new knee high boots, mine aren't quite appropriate for snow trudging and are looking more vintage than I'd like. They have this great thing in Rome, where they put all the shoes in a window display. If you want to try one on, you point it out to a waiting shop assistant, and they fetch it out in your size! It's quite efficient, and I prefer it to regular shoe stores. Sadly, I didn't find what I was looking for.
We did found this gorgeous little make up store called Kiko, which was bustling with people, and literally drew us in. We tried on a whole bunch of things and everyone was so nice!! We came out with possibly more than we needed, but it was brilliant. The odd thing about the shopping district though, is that we literally stumbled across the Trevi Fountain. You walk down an alley and there it is. Absolutely phenomenal - I couldn't believe all it's amazing detail, or it's size!! It was huge!! I'm glad that it was preserved, and protected, because it's absolutely gorgeous. We threw in coins for good luck, one of the many tourists doing so.
Fontana di Trevi
The next day we hit up The Vatican, catching the underground to get there. On the way to the station though, we were blocked by literally thousands and thousands of people walking down the main road in a protest. We weren't quite sure what was going on, but we knew it was student protest against some form of governmental conflict. Still, it didn't really concern us so we went on our way.
Vatican City? In particular St. Peter's Basilica? The most gorgeous, and the most over the top decoration of any single building I've ever seen in my entire life. Part of the building was designed by Michelangelo, and one of his sculptures was on display. The culture of this place was almost face melting, and I found it really hard to fully appreciate all that was there to see.
Vatican City + St. Peter's Basilica
The rest of the day was spent browsing the city streets again, shopping, and wandering. It was very odd, though. It appeared every second street that we walked down was cordoned off by Police, and other Militia (I'm not kidding, we saw at least three different types of officials in different uniforms), so we ended up walking around around randomly.
We eventually got to the Pantheon, which again, large and amazing and brilliant. But having been stumbling across amazing fountains and obelisks all day, I was mostly glad to sit down. It was a gorgeous building, though.
When we got back to the hotel (having walked around more closed off streets and cordons) and flipped on BBC, we realised exactly why there were so many closed off streets and policia around. There had been riots, and despite us wandering all around the inner city we hadn't seen any of it. There had been a vote to remove the current prime minister from office, and when the vote lost by 3, the citizens went to town. Literally. The news coverage made it look quite scary, and I'm glad we missed it. Still, safe and sound the next time we were able to make it up the train station bound for Chiusi.
Next up: Tuscany
Things I learnt (Rome) - Boys here shape their eyebrows. It made me insecure about my eyebrows. - Not all toilets have toilet seats. WTF. Most don't, I discovered. I'd hold out all day till getting back to hotel, which DID have toilet seats! - When you order a wine with dinner, you're not ordering a glass, you're ordering a BOTTLE. Fun times. - The gialto was amazing, as promised. Sadly it was way way too cold to order more than a tiny cup. I wanted to eat food that was hot! - The pizza, while good, was not as brilliant as I expected. In truth, it was pretty average. What I didn't expect to be blown away by was the mini pastries. There was this one place down the road from our hotel that we visited. Twice. It was that good, and because they were little, you could get a whole bunch to try! - A neon sign that says 'bar' actually means 'coffee bar', not a pub or a club or anything. And even weirder, is that people drink their coffee's standing up at the bar before moving on. You don't sit down and linger. - Another country where they drive on the wrong side of the road. Madness. I almost got run over here because I looked the wrong way. Gaah. I'm trying to teach myself to look both ways, but I haven't got it down just yet. - Everything here comes drowned in olive oil. Completely drowned. - Gypsy's are everywhere. And they have no problem walking into a resturant or a cafe to ask you for money. In fact, Sibling and I were in McDonalds, and a gypsy brought her young child and wanted a Chicken Nugget. We said no, remembering what happened the last time I gave the homeless money (I got chased into the subway), but I felt guilty eating after that. The mind boggling thing is is that all the gypsys that approached us, they weren't homeless I don't think, and they're all well dressed and clean.