Amazingly, I made my way over to the Vatican this morning without getting lost once. Not bad considering it’s the complete opposite side of my map and I encountered several one way streets where I wanted to turn.
I need to reiterate what I said last night though, these roads are chaos! The riding style for 2 wheels is completely different. In the UK you are taught to dominate your area, so act like a car and drive in the centre of the road to discourage cars from over/undertaking you in the same lane. Here sccoters and motorbikes just fill any channel or gap instantly and filter at mental speeds, you just have to go with it. The thing is you can ride like that but from personal experience I know you won’t get away with it forever.
Don’t get me started on roundabouts. I think my new tactic for them might just to be close my eyes, it can’t be any more deadly surely?
Is there any point in mentioning that I’ve been blitzed by mosquitoes once more? Probably not.
St. Peter’s Basilica is ruddy massive. It’s also very grand and beautifully built. I was going to go into la cupola (upstairs!) too but the queues were huge.
Next on my list was the Vatican Museums and thanks to my trusty ISIC I got in for €8 rather than the normal €14. A lot of people do this on a guided tour and it does make sense to do it that way but I think that would have been around €40 (that’s what someone told me they paid) and it doesn’t make that much sense.
I still got a lot out of it just going round by myself, I was in there for a good 2 hours. All I can say is crikey, there’s some amount of money gone into the Catholic church over the centuries, the collection they have is most extensive and impressive.
The Sistine Chapel (which is part of the Vatican Museums) is pretty amazing but I can’t say I was blown away by it. I think it’s because a lot of churches I’ve been to in the last few months have had similar frescos but not quite on the same scale. Still, there’s no getting away from the fact that it is very impressive.
After that I nipped over to the Pantheon again to see the inside, very nice too.
My guide-book reckons The Colosseum closes at sun-down. Nope, is actually 15:30, which is round about when I got there. It was still worth the trip though as I found thr view from the day better than in the evening.
Then I still had 2 or 3 hours to kill before I had to hand in the Vespa so I just cruised around randomly. It’s quite liberating to ride about in Rome as there don’t really seem to be any rules and people just do what they want, but because everyone does it there’s no need for road rage or anything. I got right in to it and was darting in an out with the best of them and giving out the occasional toot on the horn (though that’s more of a Neopolitan thing to do). I felt like stopping for a cappuccino, I don’t even like cappuccino. Like I said though, if you ride like this all the time your chances of coming a cropper rise significantly. There are a lot of Vespas with dented side panels knocking about.
It then occured to me to go back to the Vatican to try and see the upstairs of St. Peters, so I did. I queued and got in but by the law of St. Sod it was the only part of the basilica that had already closed.
I’ve made another travel plan decision, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to go to Cuba now. As much as I’d like to the money would be better used to set myself up in New Zealand. I’ve no idea how long it will take me to get a job so if I still have a few quid in the bank it will take some of the pressure off me. So I plan to be back in England for all of December and will then look to get a flight to Auckland in early January.
Not going to Cuba should also mean I can get a new camera, that Samsung thing I got in Vienna is a waste of space and the Sony one I broke in Bratislava wasn’t much better. I’ll be looking to get something maybe not quite at SLR levels but at least capable of taking a bloody picture at night!
Hiring the Vespa was definitely the best way to cram everything into a day. The only thing I really wanted to see that I’ve missed was the interior of The Colosseum so that’s not bad.
I’ve now ridden 2-strokes in places as far apart as the Orkney Isles, Boston in The States, The Isle of Wight and now Rome. I hope to add to this on a large scale in the future.
I think today’s efforts have warranted a great big dirty pizza so TTFN.
One last thing, the pizza I had was the best value meal I’ve had in Rome so if you come this way yourself lonely pilgrims, you may want to drop in at Taverna Pretoriana. They give you a 10% off card if you speak to them and there’s no service, cover or ‘linen fee’. €10 for a massive pizza, a beer and some bread.