DAY 37 – THE GLORY OF ANCIENT ROME

We were up early and on the motorway to Rome, the research I did prior to the trip informed me that the cities motorway network was a chaotic mess….and it was, a fast moving race track with weird junctions, many choke points of 3 fast lanes funneling into one slow lane, we saw our first accident of the day here,  and a confusion of  contradictory road signs. We kept it simple by just following ”City Centre” signs, but even that took a few attempts to enter the centre.

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The motorway leads you in very gently then becomes very frantic, Linda’s job was to watch for signs on the left and above, mine was to watch for signs above and on the right of the road, the motorway disgorged us about 10 KM from the Colosseum. Once inside the city we were doing 120kph along the streets just to keep up with the traffic, they drive so fast here and if you don’t keep up you are pressured from behind, really pressured, all you can see in your mirrors is a large headlight and grill. The 10 KM to the Colosseum was covered in no time !!

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Once we saw the old city walls we new we were in the heart of Rome.

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After posing for photos it was time to wander around the Colosseum, completed almost two thousand years ago under Emperor Titus in 80AD.

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The detail on the Arch of Constantine is still very clear for a construction 1,700 years old.

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The view over to the Forum.

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Back on the bike we rode around the Colosseum towards Emmanuel’s Monument.

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The monument is to King Victor Emmanuel, the King who’s forces united with Garibaldi’s to fight the Papal army and unify Italy in to a single Kingdom and country in 1861. Not old by Roman standards, but very prominent in Rome, its known locally as ”The wedding cake.”  I have walked around Rome as a tourist many times in years gone by, and as a pedestrian you are unencumbered by one way systems and parking spaces, from the Monument to Trevi or the Pantheon is less than 1KM but the one way systems keep taking you out of the city centre.

To travel 1km foward we travelled 12km sideways and all around, racing with the locals from traffic lights to traffic lights and riding down narrow cobbled backstreets to go around red lights, it was actually great fun following local bike and scooter riders, whizzing around back streets, remaining stationary near the Pantheon was difficult the same police man moved me on 4 times, in a nice way, with a smile and a wag of his finger.

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The Pantheon was completed in 126 AD, almost 1,900 years old the Pantheon was the World’s first concrete dome, if I remember correctly, By being just a little naughty I went down a couple of ”No entry” back streets to reach Trevi Fountain.

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Trevi Fountain was commisioned by one of the Popes and finished in 1769 at only 240 years old this counts as a modern building in Rome, its purpose is that off bringing drinking water to the cities people, when you go there it is tradition to throw a coin in the fountain, this means you will return to Rome again.

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Off down some more backstreets, a quick look at our newly purchased tourist guide to Rome, and then to Piazza Navona the old market place in the early 15th centuary.

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Next we rode on towards the Vatican.

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Once you see The Bridge of Angels, St.Peters Basilica is just around the corner to the left, the Bridge was built by Emperor Hadrian in 136AD and spans the river Tiber, to the right of  the bridge is Castel Sant d’Angelo, originally built by the same Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself, the Castle has also been used as a fort in difficult times but today is a museum.

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with a racing start from the traffic lights with the other bikes and scooters we managed to get an uncluttered photo riding down the mall to the Vatican.

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Founded in 1506 the Swiss Guard has been guarding the Vatican city and  ensuring the life of every Pope for 500 years, only soldiers from Switzerland can join the trusted regiment, the Swiss used to guard the courts and kings of  France centuries ago also, even in WW2 it was the Swiss who were chosen to look after all that looted Nazi gold.

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I parked up just behind the colonnades which gave me time to kick the back tyre a few times while Linda had a wander around the Vatican. Yesterday, on our way to Rome the bike started feeling very soft and sloppy on bends.

I pulled in to the first petrol station we came across and checked the tyre pressures, the front was fine but the back tyre had deflated from 2.8 bar to 2.0 bar, I pumped the tyre up again and have been keeping a watch on it since, but it appears to be fine again……..I am wandering if I had a puncture yesterday and the magic blue liquid that I had squirted inside the inner tubes whilst in England has done its job and sealed up the puncture. As you can see in the photo, with over 20,000km on this trip so far the back tyre is soon going to resemble a racing slick.

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We have been all day in Rome, now we have to leave the city, we had a cunning plan for our exit, we wrote down the two road numbers and several town names that would be useful, the first sign we can find that matches a name or road number we will follow. The time is almost 17.00 and the rush hour to get home is in full swing, we saw a couple more minor accidents at junctions and slowly picked our way through.

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The chaos at junctions was quite alarming, just a mad free for all, I can honestly say that this was the first time on this trip that I was scared, and scared repeatedly, we had so many close calls. Around 19.00 we were on the outskirts and had actually exited Rome on the E80 North, not our first choice but a good enough second choice to work from tomorrow, we found a campsite after some searching around Anas (Chuckle) but no supermarket nearby, tonight’s feast consisted of dry sandwiches with a raw meat filling,  from a petrol station, only 12 Euro’s…..Bargain !!

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Tomorrow we have the very ambitious plan of  going cross country to the other side of Italy where the port is……hmmm.

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~ by travelswithmymotorbike on June 13, 2009.

10 Responses to “DAY 37 – THE GLORY OF ANCIENT ROME”

  1. You are very brave!

    How does it compare to riding in Athens I wonder…..?

    • Hi Nikos,

      Well, I live in turkey where the standard of driving is akin to the cut and thrust of battle on a bloodied field….So if Rome scarred me you can imagine how wild it was.

      How was your trip?

      Cheers

      Dave…

  2. Its one of the city’s I love most in the World, thanks for sharing it.

  3. Very brave of you, Rome at rush hour is no easy thing, love the photos !!

    Stan

    • Cheers for that Stan, not easy…after we cleared Rome I had to stop for over an hour because my nerves were fried, rush hour to be avoided if I ever go back there again…..

  4. Your a tough SOB…Rome in rush hour is not for the faint hearted!!

    J

  5. Nice site, have been reading about your exploits for an hour now, no work done again lol.

    Bigtom

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