On Thursday, we travelled from Florence to Rome
Our-first-stop was at the hill-top medieval town of San Gimnigano in Tuscany. Going here is like stepping back into the 14th Century. Built high on a hilltop for defence, you enter the town through one of three narrow streets . In the centre of the town is a market square and another smaller plaza in front of the church, There was a mobile market in town on the day of our visit with traders selling everything from clothes to fruit, There vans limited the views across the square, but added something to the atmosphere of the town. Old ladies pulled little shopping jeeps along and the men sat around chatting and solving the problems of the community. The women in our tour group spent more time looking in the cute little shops than anything else. They sold everything from onyx and ceramic ware to meats from wild boar.
St Jim (as we called it) still has fourteen of its original seventy medieval towers. Medieval Italians built them to show their wealth and status. There have obviously been some changes to the buildings over years as most showed signs of some change – roof lines had been altered, windows bricked in, or doors relocated; but what would expect of buildings that are over 500 years old? There were some wonderful panoramic views across the Tuscan countryside from the town walls.
Our second stop was at a little town called Bagnaia to visit an Italian Renaissance garden that was first laid out by a Cardinal in the 1400’s. These gardens were based around a series of water features that told the allegorical story of life.
We spent our first day in Rome with a visit to the Colosseum, Trajan’s Markets, Vatican Gardens and Sistine Chapel. Our second day was at a- number of gardens with visits to the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps.
Our observations of Rome are :
- Graffiti everywhere – mindless scribbles on every building to as high as a human arm can reach.
- Cars parked bumper to bumper, down the street, around corners and even n pedestrian crossings, And just when you think that you can see a reasonable sized space, there is a Smart Car parked with its nose straight into the kerb.
- The obvious dominance of St Peter’s Basilica – the largest church in the world.
- Roman ruins that prevent the city from building underground car parks – the whole place is on big archeological site.
- Crowded cobblestone streets with every car seemingly driving in a lane of its own.
- Women in very stylish clothing.
- The value of having television in our room with BBC and CNN that we can understand in English.
- Statues everywher – on bridges, in buildings, and on the street.
Now, we are off to part two of this trip – a flight to Athens.