I've been a little bit slack in keeping up to date. I've had posts for Venice and Florence written for almost a week but havnt uploaded them and I haven't even started writing about Rome which was 3 weeks ago. I'm going to try and catch up as much as I can now.
We arrived in Rome in the middle of the afternoon on what was probably our hottest day on the trip so far. I'd also cleverly stayed up until 4:30am with some people I met in the campsite at Florence the night before so It's fair to say I was suffering from a fair mix of heat and exhaustion when we arrived in Rome for a 5 hour walking tour. In no way did it inhibit me from enjoying the city. Rome is amazing. Out of all the large cities in Europe I've been to (London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome), Rome is head and shoulders above the rest. It wasn't just for the historical aspects either (although that is the main part). I just found Rome to be a much more relaxed than most capital cities and much less pretentious that Paris or London, if that makes sense? But mostly I enjoyed the history behind it.
In case I didn't make it clear in the blog post about the British Museum, I am a big fan of anything and everything Roman (mostly due to the influence of my high school history teacher Mr Purves). As such, walking through the ancient gates into Rome and seeing the coliseum and the pantheon and the thousands of small reminders and mementos of the Roman Empire was a definite thrill. The newer (relatively speaking) sights like the Spanish steps and the Trevi fountain were also impressive but if you've never been to the coliseum, you can't really appreciate its stopping power when you walk out from the coved walkway into the centre of the 2000 year old structure that could hold 50,000 spectators. You can't not stop and stare in amazement.
The campsite where we stayed in Rome had its own bar/nightclub which ran themed parties every night. The theme for our second night in Rome (everyone just went straight to sleep the first night after our walking tour) was an "ABC" party (Anything But Clothes). People came adorned in all sorts of regalia including but not limited to togas, plastic bags, pillowcases, inflatable turtles, aprons and a range of other things that aren't clothes. I wore an apron with the statue of David on the front which I picked up from the local €2 store.
The final morning in Rome we got a tour through the Vatican. The Vatican is a place I've always wanted to go (not for any religious reason, just for the historical aspect to it). It was indeed beautiful and full of history but I really wasn't that impressed for some reason. Obviously there were incredible aspects like the Sistine Chapel but I found it crowded, officious and unwelcoming to tourists. Additionally, most of the places available to the public were particularly well adorned (or at least not to the degree I was expecting). St. Peter's square and St. Peter's basilica especially didn't live up to my expectations for whatever reason. It was nice and all, but I don't really feel compelled to go back in a hurry. I did get to see the popemobile museum though.
Anyway, that day we drove to Ancona on the east coast of Italy and boarded an overnight cruise ship to Greece. The trip was fairly uneventful but the ship was adorned fairly well and it was nice to sleep in a real bed for a change.