Singapore Sling Cocktail Corner La Trin

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps were three very famous flights of steps in front of a big church. All together there were a hundred and thirty eight steps, interrupted by terraces of flowers. People, well, hundreds of people, were leisurely seated, relaxing, on the steps. I eagerly skipped up to the top level, ready to relax

Sitting on the steps, enjoying life, I'm watching the world go by... People walking down the street, minding their own beeswax, not noticing my watchful eyes... Sipping on a slushy, lemon flavoured, it's nice because its cold and fresh..

Ahh, yes, this was nice...

The grey stone steps were now filled with people just enjoying life. Hawkers were selling cheap toys and stuff, walking round with bags crammed full of them. I bought a laser projector, and I was really happy with the bargain I got. Yes, this was good...

At the top of the steps was a little stall full of paintings, originals, that were just beautiful. The man that ran it, the artist, showed us through all his paintings. We bought two, one of a Venetian canal, and the second depicting a few horses galloping through a river. It was immaculately detailed.

Spanish Steps

Fountain at the bottom of Spanish steps

THE Cafe Greco near Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps packed with people at night

Playing with my new laser pen

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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum was the old meeting place of the Romans. There were ruins of temples, political buildings, the Palantine Hill, a rooftop garden and housing. There was even the grave of the great Julius Caesar! The glaring sun burned throughout my back, and seemed to be piercing right through me. But the ruins of the Forum were truly ruins. Stones and bricks had been stolen by Romans so that they could build their houses. It was sad, but true. Now, only scattered remains of ancient walls and columns were visible on the overgrown courtyards. Well, it was a ruin that had been very important back in the time of the Roman Empire. So much to see!

In the 8th century BC, Rea Silvia, a Vestan priestess, destined to be a virgin for life, broke the oath and gave birth to twins, Romulus and Remus.
As a punishment, the king ordered his best soldier to go out into the forest to kill them. Unwilling to do so, the soldier took the twins to a pack of wolves, hoping that they would finish the job. However, the pack did not slaughter the twins. A she-wolf gave them her milk, raising them till they were old enough to take care of themselves. When they had become fully grown men, Romulus killed Remus because they disputed where each of them wanted to build a town which went on to become Rome. It expanded to an empire, from the east to the west. It ended with the barbarian attacks in the fifth century BC.

The temples were now barely anything but stones and broken columns scattered everywhere. The tomb of Julius Caesar, which used to be in a grand temple, was now in a tiny alcove under a little canopy. People threw flowers onto the tomb, and there were at least seven bunches thrown onto it right now. It was amazing.

We took lots of pictures on the dusty floor, before walking up to the Palantine Hill. A beautiful garden was located on the top, overlooking the eternal city of Rome. The Pantheon, the Colosseum, the houses, the streets, the people, all of Rome stretched out under my feet. Flowers and trees in the garden created beautiful overhangs and scenery. Colourful and lush plants were to be seen at every turn.

The rooms of the guards were at the base of the hill. Little rooms, carved out like caves, made of brick. It would be hard to be a guard. Very hard.

The ancient Forum had originally been a swamp. When the Romans decided to put their meeting place on it, it took years to dry it up. It was a very hard task. I wondered what it would be like to watch the process of draining a swamp and converting it into a magnificent forum. It would be very interesting to watch.

The Forum was such an old place, full of rich history. It would've been such a grand place all those centuries ago.

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

The Arch of Constantine

Where body of Julius Caesar was burnt

Standing on a piece of broken marble from Roman time

It's soooo hot and sunny...

I bought a book called 'Roman Then and Now' and some before/ after photos about Roman Forum I thought you might be interested:

Temple of the Divine Julius - Before

Temple of the Divine Julius - After

Temple of Antoninas and Faustina - Before

Temple of Antoninas and Faustina - After

Temple of Romulus - Before

Temple of Romulus - After

Temple of Vesta (the most ancient building in Rome) - Before

Temple of Vesta (the most ancient building in Rome) - After

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Tuesday, 4 October 2011


There it stood, the colossal structure of the Colosseum. Arches and marble were placed along the walls of the ancient ruin, and tourists of all different races were standing around them, taking pictures at an incredible rate. The brown tinged marble and brick formed an imposing structure that you could spend hours looking at. Set in the ruins of the ancient Roman Forum, the Colosseum boldly screamed in a silent way " Look! I'm just so amazing! Look at me! " we followed the tour guide in.

It was made up of five ruined levels, including a basement of passageways, and was crammed full with tourists, all wandering around the amazing place. Arches were placed around the amphitheater, and people were filling up the levels. Brick made up the structure of the inside, and I could imagine the gladiators thrusting their huge swords all over the place. Wow, it was incredible.

The Colosseum floor used to be covered with wood and sand, and the passageways were for the animals and gladiators. Mechanical lifts were used to raise the fighters to the stadium. Weeds were weaving their way across the ancient walls, cramming the bases of the walls. People all over the place were flashing cameras, eager to take pictures. It was really cool.

The second level of the amphitheatere offered good views of Rome, not to mention the ruins of the Forum, and also of the basement of the Colosseum. People were wandering hurriedly around, awed gazes on their faces. I was eager to move around too. This was an utterly unforgettable experience.

There were three things that took place in the Colosseum during Roman time. Firstly, in the morning, animal hunts would take place. The hunts would have exotic animals from all sorts of places, and a huge variety of animals, such as lions, tigers, panthers, leopards, buffalo, bears, elephants, crocodiles, hippos, rhinoceroses and more would be hunted. Stage sets, such as woods, hills and streams, would be used to give a better effect for the hunt. Hunters were often torn from limb to limb. Ugh.

Secondly, during lunch, were held mass executions of criminals. Criminals of Roman origin would be decapitated. Otherwise, criminals were tied to posts and torn apart by hungry beasts. The beasts were frenzied by fire to attack the criminals. Sometimes, criminals were alive after the attack, but horribly injured and mutilated. How horrible.

Finally, in the afternoons, were held the gladiator fights. Criminals condemned to death, prisoners, free men and even young aristocrats would fight in the arena. The show would begin with a massive procession of lictors, musicians, sign bearers carrying notices explaining the reason of the death sentence for those to be executed, the gladiators in pairs, the venatores and the prisoners condemned to death. Combat could be of two types, the first being a sine missione, where one of the two gladiators ended up dying, or secondly, missio, where a defeated gladiator could ask for his life to be spared. It was cruel, but the bloodthirsty crowd loved it.

The Colosseum was such an ancient, important part of history. I wondered what it would be like to watch a fight. To be yelling in the crowd. Mm, not sure if I could take seeing people or animals getting killed though... Regardless, the Colosseum as a history architecture was truly awesome!

Colosseum has outer and inner walls

Dressing as a Roman...with Russel Crowe the gladiator! : )

Our fantastic tour guide; I love his passion for history!

Inside Colosseum...

The original cross of Colosseum...

The passage way for animals and gladiators

The remaining of the original sitting steps...used to be all covered in marble...

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Castle St. Angelo

Castle St. Angelo was originally known as the Mausoleo Adriano or Hadrian's Mausoleum. It was built in around 123AD as a sepulcher for Emperor Hadrian and his family.

The castle acquired its current name in 590 AD when Rome was afflicted by a severe plague. To pray for the end of the plague, a solemn procession was organized in which Pope Gregory I participated. When the procession neared the castle, the pope had a vision of Archangel Michael, who was sheathing his sword. The vision was interpreted as a celestial sign foretelling of the imminent end to the epidemic; an interpretation which later proved accurate!! From that time onwards, the Romans began calling the mausoleum Castel Sant' Angelo. A sculpture of an angel sheathing his sword was later placed on the castle's highest terrace.

The castle was modified radically many times throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance period. With the passing of the centuries, this castle has been transformed from a funeral monument into a fortified castle, a dark & terrible jail, a splendid renaissance residence for Popes, a prison of the resurgence and finally today, a museum that we can visit!

We walked into the castle and began exploring. We walked up the round ramp that wound its way through the centre of the castle. It finished in a little chamber, leading onto the hall of urns. We walked into it and saw the burial place for Empeor Hadrian & his family. It led out to a large courtyard, the courtyard Alexander VI, and catapults, along with stone balls, were lined up against the wall. There was a well against the wall, made of stone, and stairs leading up to the next level. We visited some of the rooms that lead off the courtyard.

The rooms were full of art and frescoes. Sketches, paintings, tapestries and sculptures. We walked from room to room, admiring all the artwork. There were lots of other rooms too. Like the bathroom of Clement VII, the treasury and the libraries of the Popes, and a historical prison. We wandered through all of them, admiring the frescoes and the ornate decorations. We lumbered back out and climbed the stairs to the terrace. The topmost level of the fort offered sensational views of Rome and what lay beyond. Apartments, streets, the river and churches. The Colosseum, the Vatican and everything else.

The descent down to the ramparts was long. We were rather high up. But when we got down, it was a lot of fun. The towers held weaponries, full of canons and stone spheres. There was a sentry box too. I went and stood in it, pretending to be a soldier of ancient times. It was so cool.

Castle Sant' Angelo was an amazing place. You could spend a week in there and still not see everything. It truly was an incredible place.

At Ponte Sant' Angelo which links to Castle Sant' Angelo

I am standing straight but not the castle...

Hot hot day with no clouds in the sky...

Hall of Urns

Catapult and stone balls

Sculpture of the angel sheathing his sword

Vatican city in the background

The battlement of the castle

Taking shelter from the burning sun...

Super huge treasure box (more than 2m high!)

Street market near the Castle St. Angelo

Snack time!

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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Trevi Fountain

The exuberant Trevi fountain burst out in front of us, sculptures extremely realistic. Neptune held the pristine position at the centre of the fountain, flanked by two horses led by tritons. Above Neptune, two beautiful goddesses, Abundance and Health, held positions in little alcoves. The whole fountain was on jagged rocks, which really gave the characters imposing positions. Water spurted out from every direction, nearly overflowing the barriers of the fountain. It really was a beautiful sight.

Tradition held that if you threw a coin from your right hand, over your left shoulder, into the fountain, that you would come back to Rome. I threw three coins. All the coins collected in the fountain would be donated to the Red Cross, so I was doing good too. It felt so good, with some water spraying onto the back of my neck, making my hair rise, while knowing that someday I was going to come back to Rome! I really did like Rome. The atmosphere was so nice. Calm, relaxed, bubbly and yet it had a tinge of historic tension. I loved it.

The tour group was starting to move away and I ran along to join them. The Trevi fountain was really very beautiful. The emotion on the sculptures faces, the sound of the rushing water, everything. It was something that made me want to come back to this amazing artwork. I promised myself that I would.

The Trevi, although the most famous, was one of many fountains in Rome. There were also fountains such as the Four Rivers fountain in Navona square, featured in the movie Angels and Demons, the Tritone fountain in Barberini square, Fountain of the Barccacia in Piazza del Spagna, and many, many others.

Fountains decorated Rome in such a beautiful way. It truly was spectacular. Ahh, yes, this was Rome.

Trevi Fountain

Throwing coins into Trevi

We went back to Trevi a second time...It's just so. beautiful...

Fountain of Four Rivers, as featured in 'Angels & Demons'

I wish my whole body could go in the water...

Fountain of the Barccacia piazza del Spagna

Fountain in Piazza Novana

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Arriving in Rome was like stepping out of a musty, crowded room and into fresh air. Everything was just so open. Breathable. Fresh. The Tiber river wound it's way through the beautiful city, bridges of wonder arching their way across it. Rich with vibrant history, Rome was filled with tourists, a flood of tourists flowing in from every direction. I really loved this city. I had only been in it for all of fifteen minutes.

We checked into the hotel and started planning for our last six days in Italy. I was so excited about Rome. It had so much history! It made me dizzy just thinking about all of it. As they say, when in as the Romans do...

We returned the rental car and started exploring Rome. Founded in 753 BC by Romulus, brother of Remus, it was a city crammed full with architectural wonders and historical sights.

Rome was such a beautiful place. The Tiber river wound it's way through the city, a fresh, green body of water, never-ending in its flow. The buildings made of stone were mostly connected with others. In fact, it looked rather like Paris! Yes, this was Rome

Historical Rome... So much to see!

Lots of things to write about...looking at the itinerary...will write the rest of the travel blog by visited places instead of by day...coz I will be out till very late every night...

Arriving in Rome...hotel bar

On the hop on-hop off bus

With street busker

Meeting a Roman legionnaire!

Yummy Margherita pizza in Rome

One of the many lane way night markets off Via del Corso

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