Category Archives: Rome

Travel Diary 20/5/16

Slightly earlier than usual, here’s a travel diary. Won’t be much to report this time around, mostly some do-nothing days. All this travelling is hard work, you have to relax sometimes.

Day 43
My last full day in Rome, I figured I should make the most of it. First up I trekked my way over to the Catacombs of St Callixtus, one of five underground cemeteries in Rome. I suggest you take the bus, as the walk from the nearest Metro stop is not as easy as Google Maps would suggest. I got onto the last English tour before they closed at noon (to reopen at two pm, like so many other places in Italy). it was really interesting, however, unlike the famous Paris Catacombs, the bodies have been removed from the publicly accessible tombs, including more than a few Popes.

After taking another ill-thought out walk, I found my way back into the city proper, and went to the Spanish Steps… which are currently under extensive restoration. You can see the steps through the transparent barriers, but I think I’ll save the photos for next time.

From there, it was a short jaunt to the Pantheon, which is quite impressive. Not sure what I was expecting, it’s one of those sights you know you have to see when you’re in Rome, but I don’t know, I never had a coherent picture of it in my mind. But yeah, another big, ancient church to cross off my list.

Day 44
I made the most of my ten o’clock checkout, and slept in. At this point, I want to plug the place I stayed in Rome, Hard Rock Rooms. It’s a tiny place, an apartment converted into a two-dorm hostel. It’s a minute away from the Metro, the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, and in addition to the standard free hostel breakfast, they provide a pasta dinner every night. It’s almost like a big family dinner, with everyone around the small table. By far the best place I’ve stayed.

Anyway, I took an afternoon train to Naples, found my way to my hostel, and didn’t do much else with my day.

Day 45
A bucket list item got crossed off today, one of the big ones: Pompeii. Getting there is easy enough, despite Italy’s famously poor rail system.

One thing I didn’t know is just how enormous Pompeii is. A lot of it is kind of same-y after a while, and the distance between the points of interest are kind of long, especially for someone of my fitness level. It also rained. But all in all, I’d say a good day. Pompeii is just too cool to be any other kind of day.

Day 46
I decided to have a look around Naples today, I climbed up to St Elmo’s Castle, or at least the square in front of it, for an amazing panoramic view of the city. I then hiked all the way down to Castle Nuovo on the waterfront. I didn’t go into either, because I thought they were impressive enough from outside, and I’m trying to save a little money at this stage in my trip, since I overspent in that first month.

Don't quite have the hang of the panorama feature on my camera...

I did spend money checking out ancient Greek/Roman aqueduct under the city, which was converted to a bomb shelter in the 1940s. The two-hour tour only cost €10, and was fantastic.

Day 47/48
A couple of do-nothing days, caught up on laundry, uploaded some photos watched some TV and read some comics. Basically just recharged my batteries, before catching the overnight ferry to Palermo…

Day 49
I got into Palermo at around 6.30 am, having got around three hours sleep on the ship. So I found my way to the hostel, which was easy enough, and dropped off my bag. I then proceeded to wander the city for the morning, until I could check into the hostel. I didn’t accomplish much of anything, to be perfectly honest. Too tired.

I looked a lot like this dude most of this week.

Day 50
I think fifty days is an achievement in itself, and to celebrate (because I definitely knew I was fifty days in), I had another lazy day, this time heading to the beach for a few hours. Which brings us to this exact moment, as I have returned to the hostel now, since it has clouded over a little, and I am relaying my week to all of you adoring readers.

Tomorrow I’ll do some proper sightseeing in Palermo, it’s really a nice city. And maybe some more the day after, since I am once again waiting for a night ferry back to the mainland.

Travel Diary 12/5/16

Terrible WiFi in Florence meant I couldn’t do a photo upload, which in turn meant no blog post, and also a photo backlog. I’ve caught up now, I’m halfway through my time in Rome, so here we are, only slightly later than usual.

Day 32
Primarily a travel day, I left Milan for Levanto. Levanto is at the northwest end of the Cinque Terre, and is a great starting point for any trip into the famed Five Lands. A few of the hiking trails into the Cinque Terre start here, but since I was only spending one night here, and, quite frankly, do not have a body built for hiking, I just went down to the beach to watch the sunset.

Levanto Sunset

Day 33
Today I left Levanto for La Spezia. Italy’s primary naval port, and a beautiful city, where the ocean meets the mountains, with absolutely gorgeous panoramas. Another perfect launching point for Cinque Terre adventures, which is exactly what I used it for.

Day 34
Always check the difficulty of a hiking trail before you take it. Because just looking at a trail up a mountain and thinking “That doesn’t look that high” is not an accurate way to judge. That’s what I did. Turns out the mountain trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola is one of the more difficult trails. The scenery is absolutely worth the pain, and honestly, if I can do it without equipment, and carrying 100+ kilograms of human, then there’s a fair chance you can too.

The view is worth the pain.

Many of the trails in the Cinque Terre aren’t in great condition, whether from the 2011 floods that wiped out the famous Via Dell’Amore, or just general lack of maintenance. It certainly makes things more difficult. I also checked out Corniglia today.

Day 35
No hiking today, I learned my lesson. I did check out the remaining two towns in the Cinque Terre though, Vernazza and Monterosso. Monterosso is the only town with a proper beach, so I spent some time down there, while Vernazza has that postcard perfect harbour. Of course, to get that perfect shot, you have to climb halfway up the mountain, and sorry, I’m just not that committed.

Day 36
Another travel day, but with an important stopover. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is absolutely beautiful. But once you’ve seen it… There’s not a lot else to do in Pisa. So I hopped back onto the train and continued to Florence.

The lean is a bit unnerving at first...

Day 37
Florence’s historical centre is beautiful, like so many other European cities. The Florence Duomo is one of the most beautiful churches in Europe. The Academie di Belle Arti is absolutely worth waiting in line for, because Michaelangelo’s David is amazing. It is way bigger than it looks in photos. Around three times taller than me, and is elevated to make it seem even taller.

Day 38
No trip to Florence would be complete without a visit to the Uffizi Gallery, home to a number of Renaissance masterpieces. Unfortunately, da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi is currently in restoration, but the gallery’s other main drawcard, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus is still on display, and is still amazing.

Day 39
I arrived in Rome today, and after I’d dropped my bag at the hostel, I made a beeline for the Trevi Fountain, which is probably the highlight of my trip so far. The recent restoration works means the fountain practically shines in the sun. I, naturally, made a wish in the fountain.

Absolutely perfect.

Day 40
My hostel is situated about ten minutes away from the Colosseum. It’s more than a little surreal to just round a corner and see the Colosseum right there in front of you. While I was there, I checked out the nearby Forum and Palatine Hill, some very extensive Roman ruins, right in the middle of the city, in almost a park setting (if parks had an entry fee).

Day 41
I practically walked all the way around a country today, and crossed the border about six times. Granted, that country was the Vatican City. I saw the Pope… doing Pope things. I don’t speak Italian (Latin?), so I’m not sure what he was saying, but there was a blessing and so on. St Peter’s Basilica is huge, you could practically play football inside (Australian Rules football, not soccer). The Sistine Chapel is well worth the price of entry to the Vatican Museum. It’s very high up, and photos aren’t allowed, which makes it kind of hard to see the detail (or take a sneaky photo). It’s strange to see all these frescoes on high ceilings, so much effort for something barely anyone will see in great detail.

Day 42
Every now and then, on a long trip like this, it pays to have a quiet day. One day where you’re not rushing to get to the next sight, or standing in line for hours. So, today I’m doing laundry and catching up on Youtube. And writing this blog. Tomorrow I’ll see the other Roman sights, The Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and whatever else I think of between now and then. And after that, it’s Naples, then Palermo. Hopefully it won’t be another week before I post again.