Trevi Fountain, Rome

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The famous Trevi Fountain in Rome. Although the fountain is really beautiful, this is the part of Rome that made me feel most uncomfortable. There were hordes of people in a rather confined area, and far to many shady vendors walking around. It just felt like a ripe place for some pick-pocketing.

Having said all that, we didn’t have any problems. The fountain is very beautiful, made up of water gushing over wonderfully carved marble statues and figures, creating both a soothing and cooling effect.

The popular story has it that if you throw a coin into the fountain, your return to Rome is assured. Although I did not throw a coin into the fountain, I certainly plan to be go back to Rome.

St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

Vatican City (like the rest of Italy) is incredibly accessible and aware. It is also free to disabled people. Lois and I bought tickets online several weeks before our visit, which is the best way to avoid the entrance queues. Anyway when we arrived, they promptly sent us to the front of the queue’s, refunded our tickets, and gave us complimentary tickets. You can easily spend several days in the museum’s alone; there is simply so much too see, from Egyptian mummies, to frescos, artwork and astonishing statues. The highlights of the museum’s themselves being of course the Sistine Chapel. Alas, I do not have any photos of the Chapel because they asked us to refrain from taking pics inside, which I respected.

I was however allowed to take pictures inside St Peter’s Basicalica, so here are a few highlights.

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The outside of one of the most beautiful dome’s in the world.

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The dome from the inside of St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, designed by Michelangelo. Although he died before it was complete.

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Detail of the artwork and architecture. The writing is over 7 feet tall.

St Peter's Basicalica - detail

More detail

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Finally, Michelangelo’s Pieta. The Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus.

Newlands Cricket Stadium

I was presenting at a training session at one of the meeting rooms in Newlands Cricket Stadium today, and I just happened to have my camera with me :-)

Here are two photos.

Click on the photo to get some of the detail (but it is really big)

The first is a stitched perspective of the stadium, and the second of the main stand.

The Colleseum, Rome

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This was a remarkable building to visit. Even tough I have seen it many times in books and magazines, seeing it in for real was a remarkable experience. The sheer scale of it was staggering. It soared into the sky, far above my head.

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This is where the citizens of Rome watched the gladiators fight each other to death, kill exotic animals, and slaves would try to win their freedom.

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Despite popular belief, it was not where Christians were fed to the lions.

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And to think that it was build almost 2000 years ago, and is still (at least mostly) standing is inspiring. I also realised that it will be there long after I am not.

A day in Pompeii

Firstly a warning: the train station in Napoli has three planform three’s. Yes that is correct; different platforms serving different lines, but with the same number. We figured this out the hard way.

Having said that, the trip from Napels to Pompeii is about 45 minutes, and only costs about 5 Euros return.

Ok, now to Pompeii. It is a wonderful place to visit. The street are almost 2000 years old, and the preservation in some of the buildings is staggering condidering the age, the volcanic eruption they faced, as well as the prior earthquake. It is sobering to walk the streets that Roman citizens walked just after Julius Caesar was emperor of Rome.

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While the ruins are very well maintained, you need to consider the age of the roads and pavements, so you are going to both walk and get very tired legs. In some aspects it is more like walking up a mountain than walking through a town.the pavements are very uneven, but the walking is well worth it.

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The preservation is staggering. The Romans made buildings to last 2000 years, whereas in some places in South Africa we can barely manage to make houses last for more than a few months (but I digress).

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Water arch

This arch is interesting in that it held water in the top of the arch. This was used to increase the water pressure in the city; much like the tall water towers we use today in cities.

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Take out

This was a take out restaurant; the marble slabs would have been the food preparation and serving counters.

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A typical road in Pompeii

A day is more than enough to plan for a trip from Naples to Pompeii (even from Rome if you plan for a long day). We spent about 5 hours there. While we could have been there for longer, we felt that we had seen plenty. Don’t be deceived by the walking distances in the city; remember that it was a city for 2000 citizens, and probably even more if you included the slaves. It is a big place!

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The Great Theatre, Pompeii

This theatre is the mid-sized theatre in Pompeii, holding about 5000 people. The small theatre can only hold a few hundred, while the amphitheatre could hold the entire city of 20000 people.

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A (reasonably) modern church poking out behind the ruins of Pompeii

I have crossed Pompeii off my list, but yes I would love to go back in a year or so.

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