A Travellerspoint blog

22 September - Italy

Rome (Roma)

sunny 27 °C

Hi again, well today has been much better than last posting due to a good nights' sleep albiet in an out of town supposed 4 star hotel. But there is free use of internet, and a huge que that goes with it. But spent the day on the Coluseum tour as well as the Hill that Roma was founded on. We were fascinated by the guides and their expert knowledge of the history of rome, and the interesting facts and figures they gave. We staggered around for 8 hours and headed back to the alcohol contained in our room (as E11 for a drink at the bar is excessive, but as there is nothing around here, there is no choice, except the supermarket about 5 minutes walk complete with E4.50 bottles of gin and vodka which we topped our supplies up with!

Rome seems to have taken on quite a different flavour for us since some sleep, but I still have even less respect for the Popes of Rome as we discovered our our tour today that if you really want to see the stunning marble of Rome, just visit the Vatican City as they basically pulled down half of the old part of rome to build their churches and buildings of the vatican city. Its so sad, but some might say it is green to recycle, but a lot of the statues and all were removed and chopped up to make ceilings and floors in the vatican.

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Off tomorrow to the Spanish Steps and Trivoli Fountain and general walking. Van should be fixed hopefully by Tuesday - cross your fingers for us - as its costing us a fortune and now we have decided we want to go to Lutz in Poland www.cityoflutz.pl they advertise on BBC World and it looks fabulous.

More tomorrow. Try and get some pics of my camera now...

Posted by cssc 13:33 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

19 September - Italy

Rome (Roma)

semi-overcast 26 °C

Van update...

Off the road again. In shear desparation to get out of contiki city, we purchased some 8 dennier stockings and attempted to drive the 4kms to the nearest english speaking Ford Dealer (courtesy of the poor NZ couple). After much difficulty trying to get served at Ford, found a great English speaking manager. He said we could be stuck here for up to 10 days if the parts arent available in Italy. We suspect that both fan belts and the water pump are broken. Its also needing a service, and a new wheel alignment after the last one only lasting a day before the suspension broke! The parts may have to be ordered from Germany! Its only the next country away, but I cant believe it could take so long!

Steve would be happy to continue to drive on with our trusty (not) pair of stockings trying to keep the belts turning, but with all the water dropping out along the way - not today! Being really humid and about 26 degrees we should be okay, but I beg to differ...

Posted by cssc 13:41 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

18 September – Italy

Rome (Roma)

all seasons in one day 26 °C

Day of trying to get the car fixed. Called mobile mechanic via the information centre and didn’t show. Another day wasted on the car, but a chance to finally start on the website!

Met a lovely couple in the information centre from New Zealand. They had their Ford Transit stolen from Vatican City. They had their laptop, and other electrical goods stolen along the way and it was eventually found a few days later with the tyres slashed and the ignition lock busted from being jacked. They had been stuck here for 6 weeks awaiting their insurance company from London to try and sort it out.

Made a feel kind of happy we didn’t get insurance! As it was over $1000 for 3 months 3rd party, fire and theft, on a $5000 van, we didn’t think it was worth it. As it happens we’ve spent more money than that, but on fixing things on it to keep it going, but it does drive surpringly well. It’s a 2.5L diesel (which is about 10c a litre cheaper than unleaded here) and as diesel is costing us E1.22/L its worth getting diesel. Given the exchange rate that’s about $2.00/L. We have been getting good fuel economy considering we have a high top, that’s not aerodynamic in the least! We have calculated 7.5L/100km which is comperable to my Golf in city driving.

The poor New Zealand couple, have been ripped off yet again, since arriving in the terror that is Rome. They went to the markets and found a guy selling laptops and phones. At first they suspected that the laptop they were looking at was their’s that was stolen from them. But for E300 they thought they could only afford that. So they went and got the money out and came back and checked it again and some how they switched it and when they got it back home it was water damaged and didn’t work!

We’ve also heard of the pickpockets that frequent the bus that stops outside the campsite’s front door. We hear it’s a racket that goes on day in and day out totally unabated by police. The couple we met in Florence said that the Lonely Planet Guide actually gives details of the viewing position in the Train Station in Rome where you can watch the pickpockets at work. Its really sad to see the capital of Italy reduced to such a level, and it appears the police are either powerless or don’t care less to stop it.

I also cant believe the filth around the park. We are less than 5km from the centre of Rome and the vatican. The park is E29 a night for just an unpowered parking site – which is over $50 a night! They do have a secuirty guard on the gate 24/7 but we left the front door open this morning while trying to phone mechanics (even though we never leave any valuables in the car at all) and the ashtray was open when we got back to the van. We are also right at the back of the park, so its amazing that people will go to such lengths!

Right now I just feel like we should turn around and get out of here. I am not sure I want to see it now. Even the downpour that we’ve had today cant seem to wash away the filth or the smell of filth from the streets. How can a place that is the religious capital of the western world let the people live such lives around them? Maybe we should check out Verona instead. I’ve heard great things about Verona.

Off to try and sort the car now. Cant believe how difficult it is to do. Have been calling and calling places today and no one will answer the phone...

Posted by cssc 02:25 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

17 September – Italy

Florence (Firenze)

all seasons in one day 27 °C

Another amazing day after staying a night in a fabulous room at the Hotel Palazzo Vecchio. We did more hop-on-hop-off bus trip around the rest of Florence. Through the wonderfully spruce lined boulevards over the river in the “new” part of florence. The gardens were amazing and we found many palatial country homes of the rich and famous of the renaissance capital of europe.

We managed, during a Museum workers strike of 3 days, to find the Palazzo Vecchio open for business. We were blown away again at the second home of the Medici Family, with grand entertaining rooms, delicute feminine rooms of women in the house and regal small chapel fresco’d from floor to ceiling! There were many religious relics dating back to early 1500s and even sculptures which celebrate the overthrow of the Medici’s temporarily from power. All housed in a magnificent room painted dark blue with gold fleur de lies or the Florentine flower of the lilly painted from floor to ceiling.

We tried to do the tunnels tour, but had to keep moving, so we gave it a miss. The family ended up building a 3 story high walkway connecting the household to the central law buildings a few blocks away. Would have loved to have seen it. I guess a good excuse to go back!

Decided time to drag ourselves away to Roma. Approx 4km away from the turn off to the camping site the fan belts broke, as did the water pump…

Putted to the campsite hoping the van wouldn’t overheat and cook with no cooling system working… Managed to plant ourselves in a very expensive camping ground only to find they have a nightclub open till 2am with people partying out in the streets till 3am!

Great start to Rome!

Posted by cssc 02:25 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

16 September – Italy

Florence (Firenze)

sunny 27 °C

After a very late night, we had to drag outselves up for breakfast before the 9:30am deadline. We were promised a nicer room for tonight as we got the last room being Saturday that was available. After doing a 57 point turn to get the van into the high walled forecourt of the hotel, we didn’t want to have to do it again, so we stayed a second night!

Today being my birthday we had an excellent day. We started the day in the “cool of the morning” NOT – by climbing the 441 unventilated steps to the top of the tricoloured marble tower to view the hazy yet magnificent view over Florence. We are still yet to establish if the haze is related to the Greece fires, or if its just the summer haze and pollution…

We then decided to cool off and take the hop-on-hop-off bus around town and got off that the Palazzo Pitti – the third and final Palace of the infamous Medici family. It was hugely grand and they moved there (just over the bridge and out of town) so they could have a garden for their 15 children. WOW – some garden! I’m sure they could have been lost in there for months!

The fresco’d ceilings throughout were just amazing. Culminating in the grand summer rooms with their trompe leomph frescos and fabulous glass and silver collection of 1000 year old to more modern 250 year old pieces! I don’t know how they did it as it took us about 10 minutes to climb all the stairs to the third floor (about the height of our 10 storey building!) and we were buggered after that!

We also viewed their china collection from the 16th century through to the 19th century. Some amazing pieces and about 5 rooms fully displayed! The most intricate was a pryamid style oyster display with each removable shelf being a clam shell to hold the oyster in!

From the Palazzo Pitti, we strolled back over the Ponti Vecchio and the old jewellery markets built over the river Abor and bridge. Steve said I could buy a ring for my birthday so I set about trying to find a Florentine style piece. There were so many different styles that seem to be synonomous with Florence, but eventually I fould one…

We returned to the hotel and asked for a suggestion for dinner. We found what appears to be the bussiest restaurant in Florence. Every one of their tables outside was full in 3 of the largest outdoor areas around. They said they had an inside table, and as they can no longer smoke inside in Italy we were happy to go inside. We ended up in the basement on a 6 seater table. We sat reading the menus for a while and they eventually bought another couple down and then they left then another 3 turned up and sat down. We started talking to them. They were from Geraldton and Perth! Small world! It appears that the restaurant was in the Lonely Planet Guide, hence the bussiness of it!

We had a great meal and a bottle of Asti Martini spumante which was nice. We decided to take desert elsewhere as we were stuffed. We went to a patiseri in the square and then went over the road to the Savoy for cocktails. On the lovely balmy walk home Steve proposed to me. It was so romantic. He produced a ring that he’d made out of the Asti bottle stopper and we enjoyed the very romantic city that is Florence!

Posted by cssc 02:24 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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