This article is part of a series of 10. The 25 days long journey was on an InterRail train ticket a long time ago, in August 1991, to Germany, France and Italy. What follows are transcripts from my travel diary at the time. I have changed or added very little.
Thursday 15.8.1991, Rome
How we got there and settled in
We arrived early in the morning from Nice after a bad night on a seat. We found a hotel which probably is good compared to the overpriced hotels we first checked.
HOTEL DINA at #62, Via Principe Amedeo. Two blocks to the left from the Termini, turn left. 45000 Lire for a double room with breakfast without shower or bathtub but with a basin. OK. Large room. Map
We put our luggage in, had a lovely shower and changed clothes. Then we went off to the city centre, having found a good map left in the hotel room.
We came straight onto the Trajan’s Forum (market) and the huge Vittoriano (king with a dream of being emperor in the previous century). Straight to the left began the Forum Romanum and beyond that the Coliseum. It is exciting to experience history this close.
We took bus no. 118 to the catacombs. The three which are open to visitors are all in the same area. Practical. The bus actually took the ancient Via Appia Antica (!). One should think it was closed for ordinary traffic. We ended up at the Catacombs of San Callisto (I think) and were guided around it. Very good. Rome has 50 catacombs and 1 million graves. This catacomb has 100.000 graves in 4 storeys with 6-7 grave niches on top of each other in every level, over a stretch of 20 kilometres of tunnels.
Later we had a siesta in our hotel and fell fast and deep asleep. Rome is a city which flourishes every fifteen hundred years (0, 1500, and 3000?). The Roman era and the Renaissance are the highlights the city is living of today. Today’s Rome is noisy, unorganised and in addition there’s a super-vacation today. We wanted to go to the Spanish Steps but it was impossible to get a metro ticket and difficult to find a bus. So we walked. I was pissed off.
The Spanish Steps was alright though, but not more. The flowers from the postcards were lacking as well… I found the Trevi Fountain better. (I’ll just have to see “la Dolce Vita” by Fellini, where Anita Ekberg takes a fountain bath.) We continued into the centre and the exciting Piazza Navona. We had an expensive dinner nearby.
Rome is full of exciting picture motives, but it is shabby.
Friday 16.8.1991, Rome
We started the day buying tickets for Florence tomorrow. We then took bus no. 64 (notorious for its pickpockets) to the Vatican across the River Tiber. We noticed that two Gipsy women carrying a baby tried to steal from an Italian’s waist bag.
Saint Peter’s Square and the church were very impressive. We climbed to the top.
The museum was expensive (50 NOK) but very large and good. (We must have set a new world record spending 30 minutes on the 5 hour route. We only wanted to get a sense of the exhibitions anyway, and there is in any case too much to see and digest.) The Sistine Chapel was mighty.
Later in the day we took a bus to Piazza del Popolo and climbed up to the Borghese Park. It provided fine views of the city. We went down past the Spanish Steps and had a look at the Trevi Fountain “by night”.
The next day we took a train to Florence.
All chapters in this series from 1991:
(1) Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany: Here is my diary from an InterRail train journey through Sweden, Denmark and Germany, to France and Italy.
(2) Paris & Versailles: Sightseeing in Paris and a day at Versailles.
(3) Normandie and Bretagne: A famous tapestry and D-Day beaches in Normandy and a strange mountain in the sea in Brittany.
(4) The Loire Valley and its palaces: Grand palaces and parks in the Loire Valley.
(5) Provence and the Cote d’Azur: The papal city of Avignon with an unfinished bridge, picturesque villages in Provence and a first look at the French Riviera.
(6) Monaco: A short stop in Monaco before continuing to Rome.
(7) Roma and the Vatican: In Italy we went to Roma (Rome), several cities in Tuscany and a final day in Venice, before returning to France. Here is first the account of the Eternal City of Rome and a visit to the Vatican. (THIS ARTICLE)
(8) Toscana: A few hectic days in Tuscany, in the old cities of Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Arezzo and Siena.
(9) Venezia: Venice on a day trip, like many other visitors. But even a day made us realise the magic of this famed city.
(10) French Riviera: Lazy, lovely days on the Cote d’Azur… and the long way home.