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personal - Italy Tour - 2006

Itinerary for Day 8 according to the brochure.

picture of my suitcase

Day 8: Rome to Sorrento

Spend time at leisure in The Eternal City. Religious Rome has left us the Catacombs and many fabulous churches and basilicas but perhaps the most famous Christian sights in the world are St. Peters the Vatican and the magnificent Sistine Chapel. Marvel at the Colosseum, the remains of the Forum, and don't forget to throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain for good luck. We leave this wonderful city and head south past Naples to reach Sorrento. This beautiful resort lies on a high rocky terrace above the stunning blue waters of the Bay of Naples. Enjoy dinner and two nights here at the Hotel Conca Park (4*), near the centre of Sorrento.

Personal Commentary

Day Eight

I woke feeling strangely tired. Apparently I was not alone. The hotel was full of Americans, some of them singing religious songs. It was Sunday Morning. After an average breakfast it was back to the coach for a tour of ancient Roman Forum with Romano once more. The Roman Forum was the centre of the civic and economic life of Rome in the Republican era and kept its prominent role even in the Imperial age.

We began in Piazza Venezia. The piazza is at the foot of the Capitoline Hill and near the Roman Forum. It is dominated by the Victor Emmanuel II monument, which Winston Churchill named 'The Wedding Cake'. The monument holds the tomb of the unknown soldier, with an eternal flame. We actually saw the guards changing on this building. The Piazza actually gets its name from the adjacent Palazzo Venezia. Mussolini used the balcony on this building for many of his speeches.

We walked to Palazzo Senatorio in Piazza del Campidoglio, the seat of the Town hall of Rome. (Basically it's now a government building from what I understand.) At the side of the Palazzo are the colossal lying figures of the river gods (the River Tigris remodeled to symbolize the Tiber, right, and the Nile, left) with the ancient statue of Minerva in the niche at the center. The statue of Minerva - which is over 2400 years old - actually looks like our British 'Britannica'. Above the palazzo is the bell tower which used to house the famous bell "Patarina". This bell, originally installed 1200 was rung to summon the people to "Parlamento" - basically to announce public events or other special occasions. Two bells replaced the famous major bell in 1803/4, but the bell(s) is still referred to as "Patarina". Every year on 21st April the bells are rung from the Campidoglio to commemorate the founding of Rome. Incidentally, there is also an equestrian statue in the piazza, which I believe is of Marco Aurelio. It's not the original statue however, but a copy.

We walked past the Basillica Ulpia. This apparently was the centre-piece of the Roman Emporer Trajan's (A.D. 98-117) forum, designed by the emperor's court architect Apollodorus. There were only a few columns in place but it was a great photo opportunity. The church Santa Maria di Loreto was located in the distance. I know nothing about this church I hasten to add. It just looked nice. We moved on to a building that had a statue of the 'first' Britannica.

We followed the same route that Julius Caesar would have taken to the forum - down the Flaminiun Way, past the Colonna Traiana, a column celebrating some war won by Trajan, to Santi Luca e Martina, which is a church dedicated to St Luke the Evangelist and St Martina, 3rd century martyr. Beside it was San Giuseppe dei Falegnami Carcere Mamertino, which apparently is another church...except with a longer name. (Are you keeping up?) This church is dedicated to Joseph the Carpenter and is the church of the Guild of Carpenters.

This brought us nicely to Archo di Settimo Severo. This is basically a triumphal arch dedicated by the People and the Senate to emporer Septimius Serverus to celebrate his victory of the Parthians and Arabs. The architect is unknown but it does date from 203 AD. I found this arch very impressive.

We saw the Curia (Senate House) - the 4th rebuilding of the meeting place for the Roman Senate. This brought us onto the Temple of Antonino and Faustina. Somewhere, Mark Antony's made his funeral speech, made famous by Shakespeare in his play ("Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears...."). The spot was pointed out but I am not sure where it was. Duh!

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Ok, let's fast forward. We saw the temple of Vesta. Here, vestal virgins tended the sacred fire symbolising the life of Rome. They were basically priestesses of the goddess Vestel. If their virtue was besmirched they were buried alive. We moved through the Arch of Titus. This was a single archway apparently erected to commerorate the victories of Vespasian and his son Titus over the Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem. It actually has engraved what is thought to be the oldest surviving picture of a Jewish candle, the menorah.

This brought us to the Arch of Constantine, a triple arcaded arch which was created to celebrate Constantine's victory over Maxentius in the battle of the Milvian Bridge. (Nope - that battle didn't mean anything to me either!) In front of us was the Colosseum. Wow! We didn't go in just gazed in awe and took pictures. After 30 minutes or so we walked back to the coach, passing the Circus Maximus, which is where they used to have the chariot rides. Having gulped down copious amounts of water and thanked God for air-conditioned transportation, we waved goodbye to Romano and allowed the coach to take us toward Sorrento (E45) via Naples.

We made our customary stop at an Autogrille service station for some food and provisions and continued onto Sorrento, cutting through Naples, having already passed Anagni and Cassino. We took what I assume was the main coastal road into Sorrento with hair-raising sheers drops beneath us. The view of the coast was breathtaking. We arrived at Conca Park Hotel Sorrento, and had one of the most unusual walks to reception. It was rather like walking through a tube station to get from the front of the building to reception, with a golf cart provided for those less energetic amongst us.

The hotel looked great and the rooms - especially the views from the rooms - met expectations. A very nice hotel. Pauline Vicki and I wandered past the pool and into town... well to be more precise, we wandered into a residential area in the opposite direction to that intended. Back at the hotel, somewhat 'tuckered out' we had a meal and then with Lucy, Irene and Anthony we strolled through the cooler Sorrento town during the evening, taking pictures of the lovely sunset over the gulf of Naples! Most of the Italians seemed to take their evening constitutional at around 8pm so the main square (Piazzo Tasso) was packed with locals, tourists and street performers. Even the shops were open. I'd actually describe Sorrento as an up-market seaside town... an up-market Blackpool without the Lancashire accents.

Interesting Facts

Fact 1: The Roman forum was a civic piazza surrounded by basilicas, temples and monuments.

Fact 2: Vestals had to serve for 30 years and remain celebate for that length of time.

Fact 3: The colosseum could contain 50 thousand spectators.

Fact 4: Naples was the birthplace of Sophia Loren

Fact 5: Naples is the home of the pizza margarita, named after the queeen of Italy and containing the colours of the Italian Flag.

Fact 6: Sorrento's Piazza Tasso is named after the native poet Torquato Tasso, who was born here in 1544.

Holiday pictures (20)

01: (link)  Rome - Roman Forum - Basillica Ulpia

02: (link)  Rome - Roman Forum

03: (link)  Rome - Equestrian Statue, Piazza del Campidoglio

04: (link)  Rome - Statue of the River God 'Tiber' on the Palazzo Senatorio in Piazza del Campidoglio

05: (link)  Rome - Roman Forum - Traiana Column

06: (link)  Rome - Roman Forum - Pauline, Vicki looking down Flaminiun Way

07: (link)  Rome - Roman Forum - Church of St. Luke and St Martina

08: (link)  Rome - Roman Forum - Arch of Septimius Serverus

09: (link)  Rome - Roman Forum - The Senate House

10: (link)  Rome - Roman Forum - Temple of Antonino and Faustina

11: (link)  Rome - Roman Forum - Temple of Antonino and Faustina

12: (link)  Rome - Roman Forum - Arch of Titus

13: (link)  Rome - Roman Forum - Arch of Constantine

14: (link)  Rome - Roman Forum - Colosseum

15: (link)  Rome - Circus Maximus

16: (link)  Sorrento - Gulf of Naples

17: (link)  Sorrento - Sunset over the Gulf of Naples

18: (link)  Sorrento - Sunset over the Gulf of Naples

19: (link)  Sorrento - Piazzo Tasso

20: (link)  Sorrento - Conca Park Hotel

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