It was my birthday at the weekend. There’s a kind of tradition that my wife has started, it’s a surprise trip as a birthday present. Basically, I meet her at the airport and have no idea where I’m going until we go to board the plane.
For the past few years it’s been a very Italian theme. A couple of years ago, we decided that we should have a big party, for a change. And so, she whisked me off to wonderful Venice for the carnival, which is just about the biggest party in Europe at this time of the year.
I took a couple of really nice shots, which I’ve never posted because I didn’t have a blog to post to back then. I love this one of Grand Canal taken from the famous Rialto Bridge.
Last year, it was buonjourno Milano, for a pair of shoes. But actually turned into a haircut and a weekend on beautiful Lake Como. Interesting that, my son Michael discovered that my blog ranks at number two at Google for the word buonjourno. I can’t think of any use for that at all. In fact, I’m sure some Italian blogger should have that one!
This year, I’ve been blacking out and keeling over now and again, so I’ve been having a series of blood tests. And while the doctors mess around with my blood, my thoughtful wife (knowing that I’m of the Roman Catholic variety) decided a blessing at the Vatican is what I need, not more blood tests!
And so it was we arrived in beautiful Rome and headed straight for the Vatican. Last Saturday it was pouring from the heavens. So it was a very wet Basilica that Tatiana and I stood in line for more than an hour.
Inside, the Basilica is breathtaking. And sure enough, I was able to join a small mass taking place in one of the chapels. And it was here, that I received my blessing. Of course, I didn’t take communion, I didn’t want to be responsible for the roof of St Peter’s falling in after all the years it’s survived. By the time mass was finished (my wife is an atheist, so she couldn’t participate) the Sistene Chapel had closed. Tatiana was a little disappointed, but said it was more important that I had received my blessing in one of the most important catholic churches in Rome.
Our favourite Italian restaurant in Newcastle is called Sabatini. The original though, is in the Trastevere area of Rome. And it’s superb. So, my wife, thoughtful as ever, had booked us a table for lunch.
A visit to the Coliseum is a must for all tourists in Rome. It’s quite a special thing for me, because the Coliseum, most people are not aware, was given its nickname (as it is) by an Englishman. An Englishman from my very own city of Newcastle, no less. The venerable Bede is a local saint who was responsible for coining the term Coliseum. Which he used as there was once a huge statue of Colossus at the gates.
Here’s Maximus Grehanus inside the ancient building.
It really does send you hurtling back in time just imagining the gory games that took place all those years ago. I took a nice shot of the Coliseum with the underground tunnels used by the Gladiators clearly visible.
Of course, just up the hill from the coliseum, you can visit the ruins of the forum. Many people think Brett Tabke has one of the oldest forums on the planet, but even he would admit that the Romans beat him by a tad.
T was certainly on a mission on Sunday afternoon. She has always wanted to vsit Trevi Fountain, since she fell in love with it when she saw it in Fellini’s classic movie, Roman Holiday. And I have to say, the location of the fountain is nothing like it’s been depicted in that movie and others, but it certainly is breathtaking.