Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Roma, once more.

Apparently I've been making a habit of lying to you all, because our hostel in Rome indeed did not have wireless access (thus explaining the lack of posts for two days), and I just remembered that the David isn't in the Uffizi, but rather the Accademia. The former of the two didn't really bother me at all, because Frankie and I had an overwhelming two full days in Rome. The latter, however, I'm still pissed about. Oh well.

As stated in my last post, our train left Lecce Sunday morning at 6:00. The six hour trip wasn't too bad this time, as I occupied most of my time with a couple newspapers (La Gazzetta dello Sport, and the only independent newspaper in Italy, which happens to be Communist: Il Manifesto) and a new book I bought the night before: Annelisa e il passaggio a livello. The countryside in southern Italy is truly beautiful, so that also helped pass the time. Once we arrived, we found our hostel fairly easily, and we spent an hour or so talking with Alessandro, the owner and manager. We had originally booked a mixed dorm room for two nights, but by some divine intervention he put us up in a private double room with a private bathroom. It was small, but it was a bed. And a bathroom. Private. So, needless to say, we were happy with Alessandro and his Ciao Roma hostel.

F and I knew, vaguely, the places we wanted to go and the areas in which we wanted to eat. The "main" things remaining that we hadn't seen on our last trip were the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and the Colosseum at night. At least, those were the places we figured we could reasonably fit-in to six hours of walking. I've been told a few times that the Spanish Steps seem much smaller than most people imagine, so when we approached the top of them (after a long walk up-hill) I wasn't too surprised with the mass of tourists that dwarved the steps themselves.

I was hoping there would be a decent view from the top of the stairs, but the way the architecture is laid out, there really wasn't one good place to get a shot. Anyhow, the view from the bottom was pretty nice.

Seeing the Pantheon for the first time was undoubtedly one of the most overwhelming things I've ever experienced. Not just because it's almost 2000 years old (around 126 A.D., more or less), but because, unless you're looking on a map to find it, there's no way of knowing where it is until you round a random corner, and there, in the middle of Piazza della Rotonda- which houses countless restaurants, cafes, shops and even a lonely McDonald's, sits the best-kept temple in the world. And it's insanely large, to boot.

I totally was not expecting the Pantheon to be as big as it is. But, I suppose it's just one of those things you have to see to believe. Unfortunately, on this day (Sunday) the door's close at 1, so we weren't able to go inside. We decided it was a must to go back on Monday.

After the Pantheon, we walked over to Piazza Navona to see the fountains and the artists working in the square. We wanted to eat in the Piazza, but all of the restaurants seemed to cater to the tourists (or, us, basically) with prices through the roof. I decided on a good way to guage the price level of any restaurant: check and see how much they charge for a Pizza Margherita (just cheese, sauce, and basil)- if it's more than €6 or €7, then that place is too expensive. Works well for me, anyway.

We capped off the night with a walk to old Rome, to see the Colosseum and the ruins. The moon was completely full and brighter than I had seen in a while, so immediately I knew I had to get a shot of the Colosseum with the moon above it. Being dark, and knowing my shaky hands, I bartered with one of the street vendors and bought a small, but big enough tri-pod for €10. Unfortunately, by the time we got up close enough to the Colosseum for me to frame a shot, the moon was nowhere to be found. Evidently it had ducked behind some buildings while I was smooth talking the vendor. Who knows. I used an exposure time of almost 6 seconds for most of the shots, and I'm really happy with how they all came out.

I'm only going to post Day 1 of Rome for right now, because Day 2 was much, much too overwhelming for only half a post. That, and we just got to Florence, and I promised Brunelleschi I'd check out his dome.


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