If you believe certain stories that are doing the rounds, you’ll believe that Tipsy’s Roman Holiday included her eating vast quantities of gelato, riding round on a moped, having her fringe cut, and being caught up in a something of a ruckus when her Little Pet went to pet a puppy dog who tried to return the friendliness by attempting to bite her. This then resulted in members of the family trying to stop other members of the family from giving the dog a black eye and subsequently the whole lot of them being carted off in a police van (nee-noor nee-norr nee-noor) and hitting policemen over the head with a guitar. Whether these rumours are true or not (they seem to resemble a certain film and often change from telling to telling), I can confirm that Tipsy is fan of gelato, but would like to state, quite cat-e-gorially, that she’s a peaceable cat who likes law and order, and guitars, and Audrey Hepburn. In any case, it is safe to say, that a lot of gelato was, indeed, consumed.
This holiday of ours was actually way back in 2009, but since Rome is the Eternal City, I’m sure this blog post is still valid. We’d stayed in a hotel just a little away from the centre, but everything was walkable, which is very handy as the buses get very crowded (queueing doesn’t exist) and the underground network is not that extensive. Everywhere you do walk is like walking through / on / by / and across history – there are literally ancient pillars and walls littering the street corners.
Highlights include, the Colosseum, which is immense and gives you a flavour of the drama that must have unfolded within. It used to house gladiators, crocdillys, lions and other scary creatures, but now is home to wild cats, which aren’t very human-pet friendly, but seemed to be quite genial towards Tipsy.
The Forum Roman – centre of commerce and religion – is incredible. Many parts are still being excavated, and Tipsy nearly joined in. However, she said that as her helmet was a bit too large for her, she couldn’t really take part (nothing at all to do with the fact that under the forum runs the Cloaca Maxima – a 2,000-year-old sewer that still works – and quite incredible when we consider that London only got its sewage system 200 years ago).
The Pantheon is another facilitating part of Roman History (sorry, no photos), and the Spanish Steps would have been beautiful and great, had it not been raining quite so much.
The Vatican, of course, is incredible. The museum a wonder to walk around and crane your neck up at. We also were lucky enough to see Pope Benedict in a grand hall with a party atmosphere, cheering, banners flying from various group, lots of singing and lots of joy.
We also took a public bus out to Villa d’Este and Tivoli to see the spectacular fountains. It was very easy to get to and back, and lovely to wander around. The bus was great fun too – it stopped a lot – everyone says thank you and bye to the driver and it’s generally a merry journey.
Among the best bits of Rome, however, are the more secret ones, including, Il Perspectivo, in the Palazzo Spada, an incredibly clever optical illusion by Baroque architect Franceso Borromini – go and seek it out and you’ll see what I mean, and the Knights of Malta keyhole, on top of the Aventine, which looks like an ordinary door to begin with, until you see hoards of people queuing to look through its keyhole. The keyhole provides a tree-framed view all the way to St Peter’s and is definitely worth the uphill walk.
Finally, no trip to Rome is complete without throwing three coins into the fountain – we do want to go back – and trying your paw – if you are brave enough – in the Bocca della Verità – phew, no damage done!