We were impressed by the train so might use it again to save parking fees. We were definitely right to stay over too as we would never have made it overnight. Even then the plane was delayed for a couple of hours while the plane was repeatedly de-iced.
It wasn't snowing when we reached Rome but the locals were all a'buzz because it had chucked it down on the Saturday. The first proper snow in Rome for 27 years apparently. It was freezing cold and the streets and pavements were very icy. But it was pretty too.
As we drove into the city from the airport we could see clearly that Rome is not designed for snow. The lovely bushy evergreen trees lining every road gathered up the snow rather than shunting it downwards. Broken branches were everywhere along with smashed up cars which had been parked beneath them. I hope there were no pedestrian casualties.
We arrived, found our hotel and headed straight out for a walk. We found an EXTREMELY uninspiring cafe for lunch (just before we came across a slew of much nicer looking places of course) and then headed down Via Nazionale. At the end of the street was a flight of icy steps below...which we took somewhat randomly.
The giant column is Trajan's Column. It is carved with reliefs and quite stunning. The guidebook says there is a spiral staircase inside but not open to the public!
The white marble monstrosity atopped with bronzes is the Victor Emmanuele II Memorial. It is huge and totally overblown - King Victor Emmanuale II was the first king of the unified state and clearly not short of ego! The positioning of the memorial is poor, dominating the ancient Roman area of the Via dei Forii Imperiale, the Forum and Trajan's Column and market. Hey ho...
As with everywhere in Rome though, you're never far from a church! We didn't go inside this one - my guidebook won't even tell me what this particular beauty is called! (Obviously the beauty in front of it is called Richard!)
Because of the snow all the Roman sights were closed for the whole time we were in Rome. We could walk along the street and look down onto the Forums, Palatine and at Trajan's market but we could not go in and poke around. What a shame - I did latin A-level aeons ago and have always been interested in Roman history so it was sad not to be able to get up close and personal. But not many people get to see this place with a covering of snow!
A Corinthian column (I didn't see the seagull on top when I took the pic.)
Trajan's market. This did open on the Tuesday afternoon but proposed charging us full price but without allowing you out into the external areas...a swizz!
Me, much bundled up against the cold. It was at or below freezing the whole time.
Just look at that! An ancient Roman city just spread out in front of you. Clearly recognisable as forums, temples, villas, markets, baths. Stunning.
And then the Colosseum. It's pretty impressive, even when you can't go inside and have a look. Richard's dad told us not to bother going inside anyway - it's just piles of rubble! But I would have liked to go in.
Constantine's Arch - you could picture triumphal parades of slaves and captured armies.
It's quite a sporting structure, even now. Apparently the internal walkways were built especially wide and clear to enable the huge (and feisty) crowds to get to and from their seats in less than 10 minutes!
The closest we could get to the gladiatorial arena....
The sun peeked out eventually and the sky became blue for an hour or so. Lovely.
Then back to the hotel stopping for a few (very expensive beers along the way). It was in the first pub we stopped in that we discovered that Roma WERE playing at home that day. The internet had informed us that, unusually, they were playing the Saturday before. If we'd known, we'd had raced to the Stadio Olympico for the game. Gutted. Especially when we discovered that the home team had beaten Inter 4-nil. That would have been some atmosphere.
And that was the end of our first day in Rome. Well, not quite - we went to the Trevi Fountain and had a lovely meal in a restaurant called "That's Amore"...a good day!