A day of stories. I love a good story, a gripping tale, a ripping yarn! We spent our last day in Rome, visiting some sites that gave us some history and had a tale to tell…
The Church of St. Peter In Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) was our first stop. The frescos in this church were beautiful and it’s also home to Michelangelo’s statue of Moses.
The church is so named, because it holds the chains that were said to have bound St Peter when he was imprisoned in Jerusalem. The chains were presented to Pope Leo I and legend has it, that when Pope Leo compared the chains to those from Saint Peter’s final imprisonment in Rome, the chains miraculously fused together. So, that’s the story behind the name! The chains now sit behind glass inside the church.
After a quiet stroll around the interior of the church, looking at the beautiful art in the form of frescos and Michelangelo’s work, we strolled back into the sunshine and headed upward, as we toddled up to Capitol Hill. Here we strolled into Piazza del Campidoglio, where a statue of Romulus and Remus stands at the entrance to this grand square. The original statue in bronze, is housed in the museum, but there is another one outside, in the piazza. It’s in this area that Romulus is said to have founded Rome. Legend has it, it was at the foot of nearby Palatine Hill, that Romulus and Remus were found by a shepherd, being raised by a she wolf. The statue is a very iconic image, which we’ve seen often in our travels around Italy.
The piazza itself was designed by Michelangelo and it was considered quite unprecedented in design. It’s trapezoidal in shape, with three palazzi on the edges and a staircase at one end, the design of which was also created by Michelangelo.
In the centre of the piazza stands a huge bronze statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (pointless trivia alert: he’s the one who named Russell Crowe as his successor in the film Gladiator), which was installed by Pope Paul III Farnese in 1538. This was the centrepiece and starting point for Michelangelo’s design of the piazza that now surrounds the statue. This was one of the nicest piazzas we’ve seen and a nice place to stroll in the sunshine, which we did!
As part of our Rome experience, we’ve been watching Roman Holiday in instalments each night, over supper. A few days ago we watched A Room With a View, which is set in Florence, so we could have some “been there and seen that” moments. Lately, we’ve been sharing our Rome experiences with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, so our next stop today was to the Mouth of Truth. This is the stone face with the open mouth, that Gregory Peck’s character put his hand into, in one of the most famous scenes in the movie. Legend has it, that if a liar puts their hand in the open mouth, it will be bitten off! We saw the face, but didn’t put our hand in, because this would have meant about an hour’s wait in line with all the people queued up for their photo op! Having a look at this famous face was enough for us.
We were in the general area of Circus Maximus, so we strolled there again, on our way to finding a spot for lunch. As we walked along a path, we saw a sign that left us somewhat confused! We have had our share of difficulties interpreting signs in various places, at one time or another, but we usually do alright with the ones with pictures and symbols. This one though…we weren’t sure what to do. Is it OK to walk and cycle on this path or not!
We took the Metro back to Piazza del Popolo and walked into the nice park we had strolled through a couple of days ago. On a beautiful sunny day like today, it was so nice to sit on a bench in the sun, near the lake and have a peaceful and leisurely lunch. We sat and talked about the trip and our impressions of Rome and again shared some of our “Top 5” experiences or memorable moments from our travels so far, which seem to change whenever we play this game. Certain things remain tour highlights though, even though we have many, many, many “Tops”. Then it was back to the Metro, to our way back to the apartment, and prepare for our departure tomorrow.
Tomorrow we pedal on, into a phase of the journey that will be quite sad. Our Schengen visa expires very soon, so once again, we have to leave mainland Europe. We spent many hours discussing and researching and deliberating over what to do and where to go for our remaining couple of months, that will see us travelling through winter. In the end, after much to-ing and fro-ing, the only really viable option was to return to the UK. Cycling through a British winter, with the very short days, very little daylight and extremely inclement weather, was also going to prove challenging. So in the end, the decision was made, to once again take to a van, with our trusty bikes in the back and become driving tourists during winter, and get the bikes out at every opportunity to do day trips here and there on two wheels. As for getting back to England, we contacted a hire car company, to see if any relocations were needed and it turned out a company needed a small motorhome relocating from Rome to London, so that’s what we’re doing. Tomorrow we head south towards Anzio, the location of the motorhome, which we will begin driving back to London in a few days. Technically the trip to Anzio is an easy day’s ride of only about 60km, but we’re going to drag it out as much as we can, so we’ll stop somewhere along the way tomorrow, rather than riding the whole distance. This is because once we get to Anzio, effectively our cycle touring, as we’ve known it, with our full panniers and packing up our gear and riding our loaded bikes every day, will come to an end. We won’t stop riding the bikes and we’ll keep touring around on them as much as we can, but it won’t be the same, since there will be vans included in our transport. So, we are about to enter a phase that we haven’t been looking forward to at all. We know it’s the most practical thing to do, given the circumstances, but we will miss terribly, our regular, full day, loaded riding experiences.
So, tomorrow we begin our ride towards Anzio, taking as much time as we can, dragging it out as long as possible, putting off the inevitable as long as we can, staying on our bikes until the very last moment. We’ll leave Rome behind, having learnt some amazing history and heard some marvellous stories and…soaked up some sensational sun! On we will go, pedalling on, powering forward, climbing those hills and wheeling down those roads. The adventure continues… Oh, we just have to get out of Rome first, which means another date with the maniac traffic! Buckle up, we could be in for a bumpy ride!
We just finished watching Roman Holiday. How could it end like THAT!!!!
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