With the sun in our face to Rome

Met de zon in ons gezicht naar RomeAfter we had visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa on Sunday morning 8 December, we ride on to Rome. We booked a hotel on the outskirts of Rome where we would stay several nights.

On the advice of Claudio (of B&B Alfieri) we again follow the Via Aurelia, which appears to be a good choice. We drive over the Tuscan hills to the south. The sun is low in the sky and shining right in our faces. We’re going in the right direction.

The Via Aurelia is less winding here than in the north of Italy, and that’s good for today. Our confidence in the bike and the tires has to grow again after our fall, especially in the corners. It is quite a long way to Rome, but we make good progress.

We regularly pass cars that, for some inexplicable reason, drive very slowly or on the wrong side of the road. It that case there are two options. If you see hand gestures through the rear window, the driver of the car is talking animatedly, with passion and a lot of hand gestures to a fellow passenger. Driving the car is clearly less important.
Option two is when you do not see any hand moving back and forth. In that case that hand is holding a phone. Everyone, absolutely everyone (from grandmas to bus drivers) is calling in the car. Nobody even bothers to stand still, everyone just drives on. Only very slowly and without really paying attention on the road. Very peculiar.

Met de zon in ons gezicht naar RomeThe further we ride into Italy, the more churches and chapels we pass. Along the way there are many crosses and statues of Mary, always in a niche with candles and (fake) flowers. We drive past a cyclist who, during his weekly tour, makes the sign of the Cross when passing a hearse. It is clear that we drive to the Roman Catholic capital of the world.

The hotel is nestled in the outskirts of Rome. When the GPS indicates that we have arrived, we are in front of a large walled house, situated in a residential area. The large metal gate is closed and only the door of the gate is ajar. We do not see any sign indicating that we are in front of a hotel. The building looks like a hospital or a school. I walk through the gate and on the door of the building I see a sticker of ‘TripAdvisor’. This should be the place. And it turns out right. The guy behind the counter knows about our reservation and opens the gate so that we can both drive our bikes insides.

When I am back at the desk to check in, I notice that there are a lot of pictures of Pope Francis. On notebooks, calendars, maps of the city and even on the business card of the hotel. On the outside of the hotel there is another statue of Mary in a niche and on the notice board in the lobby shows the time of the Mass. It looks like a convent.
The next morning at breakfast it appears that was not a crazy thought, when we receive our sweet breads served by a nun. The hotel “Il Romitello” is owned by the Order of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Castres. That afternoon it appears that our room is located next to the chapel where a Mass is held. The next days the sisters gather in the same chapel for choir rehearsal. It is not ‘Sister Act’, but it sounds very nice.

Met de zon in ons gezicht naar RomeInspired by the sisters at our hotel, we get on the train to Rome on Monday to go to Vatican City. At the beginning of the morning we get to St. Peter’s Square. An impressive first sight of St. Peter’s Basilica, the famous balcony and statues on the wall around the square. The square is still filled with the seats needed for the Mass of the day before. It makes me quiet for a moment, when I realize that my mother was here with my grandmother on one of those hundreds of seats to attend a Mass in 2012. The preparations for Christmas are in full swing. On the square a huge Christmas tree is being set up.

Met de zon in ons gezicht naar RomeThe queue for the St. Peter’s Basilica is not very long, it also has its advantages to visit Rome offseason. Once inside the church makes a huge impression on us. High ceilings, large statues, overwhelming. The light is beautiful and makes our cameras click. Our tour then brings us to the Vatican Museum, especially to view the Sistine Chapel to admire the famous frescoes by Michelangelo. In the Sistine Chapel itself we were not allowed to take pictures, but the rest of the museum (especially the ceilings) result in enough colorful pictures.

The next day we visit the Pantheon, a church in the shape of a dome with a hole in the roof. The outside does not reveil how beautiful it is inside. It is a very old building, the round dome dates from 128 AD. It is incredible to think that, at the time, they already had the techniques to build it. The remainder of the day we walk around town and visit different tourist attractions, including the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona.

Despite the low season, street vendors are at each spot trying to sell you stuf. If you are near Vatican City, it is mainly stuff with pictures of the Pope. The current pope, Pope Francis, is hugely popular. Pope John Paul II from Poland, who already died in 2005, is still a bestseller. In other parts of Rome the vendors sell roses, bags and hats. The most sold item is a “Splat Back Ball”, a strange round figure of some sort of slimy plastic that makes a very sad sound when you throw it flat on the ground, after which it takes its round shape again and you can trow it again. Everywhere we go we hear “Splash, Pieieieieiep, Splash, Pieieieieieieiep”.

Met de zon in ons gezicht naar RomePiazza Navona is already in the Christmas spirit with a big Christmas market. Especially the stall where you can buy items for the Christmas crib is frequently visited. The Italian version of the Christmas crib is very full with a lot of different animals, figures and even running water. The lights that are used by the Italians in their trees are not just white, but have different colors and flash. We do not particularly like it, but the Italians seem to love it. Even the nuns at our hotel had a tree that successively blinked green, red, yellow and blue (?). It did add to the Christmas spirit!

After two wonderful days in Rome we drive on to the south on Wednesday. The sun again shines, we are very lucky with the weather!

Click here to see the pictures.

Distance travelled until Rome : 2226 km (1,384 miles)

| Leonie | EUROPE, Italy

4 Reacties (Comments) - With the sun in our face to Rome

  1. carina & arjan

    Wat een heerlijke verhalen om te lezen en super mooie foto’s om te bekijken! Errug leuk!!!

  2. Patrick

    Ik rij zelf ook met een crf 250 en ik lees jullie avonturen met veel plezier.
    Dit blijf ik volgen

  3. Jan en Mariët

    Ook wel lekker zonder motorpak,gewoon een beetje slenteren door Rome! Liefs.

  4. Mip

    Prachtige foto’s zeg! Liefs!