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My first day in Rome was glorious, sunny and warm – a little too warm for me, so I am glad that I didn’t come to Rome in high summer!

I awoke at dawn in the Eternal City. Well, not quite dawn. In fact for some reason my watch stopped on the flight over and I assumed the mobile phone and computer changed time zones automatically. They don’t. I was up at 8 rather than 7. Now case in point for Mark if you’re reading this – I need a new lens for my camera! Look just above the left hand side of the Colosseum – see the dark spot in the sky? Ever since I dropped my camera the dirt inside the lens has plonked itself on the glass. I forgot to Photoshop this blemish out of the pic above. I’m desperate I tell you!

I took a walk through my local neighbourhood and bought train tickets at the Tabacchi shop. I did the entire transaction in Italian, though as soon as you try to speak it the Italians switch to English rather than hear their language butchered. I passed the Colosseum and headed straight to the Colosseo Metro underground station. I was on high alert for gypsies and pickpockets but to my disappointment there wasn’t one in sight. I knew not to have my wallet just sitting in my pocket and I had Italian phrases at the ready to tackle street crime – “Enough!”, “Go away!” and “Stop!” were at the ready. From all the horror stories I had read I was prepared to enter any public space in Rome shouting and flailing my arms wildly in all directions to deter would-be thieves. Alas, it was not necessary. Having said that I will be visiting the Vatican tomorrow and they have the world’s highest crime rate per capita – mainly because only a few hundred people live in the principality but a significant number of the millions of tourists who visit each year get fleeced.

I alighted the train at Spagna station and visited the Spanish Steps, which were actually funded by French diplomats.

At the base of the steps is a fountain called the Fountain of the Old Boat but it sounds better in Italian – Fontana della Barcaccia.

I then headed down Via Condotti, one of the exclusive shopping streets.

It must be rubbish collection day. I call this photo “Hermes bags and bin bags”.

I passed the Piazza Colonna – the column has stood there since the year 193. See that pesky dot in the sky again?

I then passed through the delightful medieval streetscape to the Trevi Fountain but you have seen pictures of that already.

Then on to the Pantheon. I still remember studying the Pantheon in Art at school. Perfect proportions and a dome that defied gravity. It’s still the largest un-reinforced concrete dome in the world – 1900 years after it was built! Pan = many, Theos = Gods – it was a place of worship of all the Roman gods. Since the 7th century it’s been a Catholic church.

Inside you get a full sense of its enormity.

At the top is the oculus, the building’s only source of light. Well, except for that open door. The oculus is simply a round hole in the roof, so when it rains – you get wet! It connects the light of heavens and gods to the earth. The British would have installed a nice double-glazed skylight by now.

Onwards to the Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva – it’s quite beautiful. Also unexpected – a gothic interior in Rome.

This was followed by a visit to the Piazza Navona, featuring the Fountain of the Four Rivers and an Egyptian obelisk.

By then it was time for lunch. I had Bruschetta Pomodoro, Saltimbocca Alla Romana, then Gelati for dessert. Also bread (pane), wine (vino bianco) and a cappucino (I needed a pick-me-up for the afternoon).

I liked this little car.

But we’re not done yet. I hit Rome and I hit it hard – SUPERTOURIST! Here’s the Campo de’ Fiori.

It means “field of flowers”.

There’s a market there every day.

I passed many churches, like this one.

The patina of antiquity. I’m glad it’s here in Rome – if it were my house I’d be terrified of rising damp.

When I saw these cats I wondered how Mark was going with Oliver, Ruby and Rose.

The Victor Emmanuel II Monument – dedicated to the first king of the unified Italy. A great big wedding cake of a building designed in 1885 and finished fifty years later. Look – that speck is haunting all my photos! It’s just to the right of the left hand side statue on the top of the building. Aargh!

Did you know Rome was built on seven hills? Here is the Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo.

The ruins of the ancient Foro Romano – Romun Forum, centre of the Roman Empire.

It was spectacular.

I’m exhausted just thinking about this day again!

I hope you can forgive me for not going into the Colosseum. I still had to find a supermarket and shop for some supplies for the apartment.

I watched the sun set from the apartment and then popped out for a quick pizza in the evening, did a bit of organising, photo processing and blogging, all while watching that Sandra Bullock movie. I’ll tell you about today (Thursday) tomorrow!

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