A walk to the Vatican

On the Piazza di Campo de Fiori there is a market. It’s quite a small market and not particularly cheap but it is actually quite nice with a spacious feel to it and not too crowded. Tim munched oranges and olives, Mum pears and I bought home a little bag of apples to eat in the comfort of the flat.

The queues outside St Peter’s Basilica were too much for my feet and I sought refuge in Castroni – where I stood by the bar and had an un-classy and childish 1pm cappuccino. The shop is delightful grotto of edible treasures.

You can hardly miss the Mausoleo di Adriano or the Castel S. Angelo la Mole next to Vatican City – a 2nd century Rome mausoleum for Hadrian – him of the wall. It was converted into a papal fortress and boasts beautiful 15th century frescos, fantastic views of Rome and my favourite a room with the hugest chest I have ever seen – one can only imagine it stuffed full of papal gold. Apparently there is a secret passageway that leads back to the Pope’s digs. Nowadays I guess he keeps his treasures in the Vatican or a Swiss bank account.

We passed through a metal detector and smiled at the museum staff with their Italian flag trainers to walk around the an exhibition at the Piazza del Tribunali – it was all in Italian so for us it was all in pictures.

We headed across the river to see the Mausoleo di Augusto – a mini version of Adrian’s Mole that you can’t yet go in and walk around and we stumbled across the Museo dell’Ara Pacis. It’s a beautiful marble and glass modern sort of building which houses the incredible Ara Pacis – an alter of peace constructed by the emperor Augustus. It’s quite extraordinary to think that the carvings of beautiful white marble are about 2000 years old.

On the way to see the Caravaggios at the church of Santa Maria Del Popolo we passed by three other churches and the delightful identical twin churches (spot the little differences) in the Piazza Del Popolo. The Piazza Del Popolo was a popular dropping off point for those on their Grand Tours of the C19th and that made us think of home and dinner.

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