September 14, 2010

Rome, a living museum – Part 1

I attended a conference in Rome at the end of June, and as I've never been to Italy, I took the opportunity to travel around the country, with hubby joining me at the end of the conference. As I couldn't take too many days off work, we tried to squeeze in as much as we could of Rome, Florence, Pisa and Venice within six days, including intercity travels by train. It was indeed a bit rushed but we managed to see most of the highlights of these cities. It also helped that we went in the height of summer, where the sun rose before 5am and didn't set until 9pm, so we had plenty of daylight to maximize our time there.

Our stay in Rome started with a visit to the Scala di Spagna (Spanish Steps). The Spanish had nothing to do with the construction of the baroque staircase – the name was derived from the Spanish Embassy, which was in a nearby palazzo (palace) during the 19th century. At the top of the steps is Church of Trinità dei Monti, built by the French. At the foot of the staircase is Piazza di Spagna. The boat-shape Barcaccia fountain in the piazza (public square) is reputed to have the sweetest water in Rome. Piazza di Spagna is also a haven for shoppers, with all the major fashion brands in the world having a presence there.

Church of Trinita dei Monti at the top of the steps
Barcaccia fountain in the foreground

We then walked to Fontana dei Trevi (Trevi Fountain), an 18th-century extravaganza of baroque stonework ruled over by a large statue of Neptune. Many visitors toss a coin into the fountain, which is said to ensure that he/she will some day return to Rome. Hubby and I didn't, so lets see if we still get a chance to return to Rome in future :-)

At one corner of the fountain's piazza is the Chiesa SS. Vincenzo e Anastasio, a church that houses the hearts and intestines of popes from several centuries' back.

We continued walking till we reach Piazza Colonna. The centerpiece of the piazza is Column of Marcus Aurelius, a hollow bronze column 25m tall. The statue of a Roman warrior originally adorned the top of the column, but was replaced by a statue of St. Paul, one of the patron saint of Rome, by a pope in 1589.

Further along is Piazza di Montecitorio, cremation site of the Roman emperors in ancient times. The massive obelisk in the piazza was originally erected in Egypt in the 6th century B.C., and was placed here in 1792. The Palazzo di Montecitorio (pictured below in the background), is the modern-day site of the Italian legislature.

We ended our walk at Vittorio Emanuele Monument, a flamboyant landmark constructed in the late 1800s in honor of Italy's first king. The monument holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where an eternal flame burns.


Mama Zharfan said...

nice pics!!

smallkucing said...

lovely set of photos

LittleLamb said...

awww Europe is so beautiful. The weather looks good too..sunny n windy?

ryeli said...

wow! italy!!!! i so envy u and glad that hubby and you had some getaway from the kids. i need to do this too! lol!

u didnt mention about how the girls took it to both of you not around so i'm guessing it was a breeze? ;)

michelle@mybabybay said...

It just beautiful. I hope I can have seminar there...:P

A Mom's Diary said...

Mama zharfan/smallkucing - thanks

LittleLamb - it was awfully hot, temp hit 40 degrees one of the days we were there but due to the low humidity, we weren't sweating like pigs, thankfully.

Syn - I was really excited about this trip too.

About how the girls took to it, we pre-empted Yiu Yiu few weeks in advance telling her I'd be away, then papa would come join me. So she was OK with it. Anyway, she's quite used to me travelling. As for the young one, I guess she's still too young to know :-) My babysitter didn't comment that she was extra "lau kai" or anything.

Michelle - wei, you get to go to US quite a bit too rite?

jacss said...

what lovely experiences u had, not many people has chance to see this part of the world, truely admire u!!

A Mom's Diary said...

Jacs - yes, so I count my blessings for having the opportunity to travel quite a bit in the course of my work.