Christmas at the institute rather generously involves ‘free holidays’ on Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing day, as well as New Year’s Eve and Day. Last year I hung around work on the days in between, being semi productive but feeling like a bit of a Chump for being one of only about 10 people remaining in the whole building.
This year, we took one look at the calender, realised we could get about 16 days freedom by taking just five days official holiday, and hit the road!
With my sidekick (Mother) and faithful gadget man (Andy the Android) in tow, I flew to Rome…
… The Eternal City.
We quizzed our Italian friends on what to do, and more importantly what to eat in the country. The list was long: Sfogliatelle, Gelati, Cannoli (things which you’d better believe are turing up in a later postings)… and of course Pizza, pasta, foccacia, seafood…All things we should try.
But not in Rome.
Don’t Eat the Pizza In Rome!
I’m sorry, we caved pretty early on.
We flew in around midday, and by the time we got to the city, and then to the hotel, and then settled in, our stomachs were rumbling. So we opted for various pizzas, including a rather delicious four cheeses one.
On a scale of potato to pizza it was pretty darn pizza, if you know what I mean.
We even had room for icecream. Which came in some interesting flavour options.
Although I guess in Germany, blue is usually ‘Smurf’ flavour.
Disappointing choice there my friend.
Rather conveniently for us, the kind folks at Rome held a walking tour at 5:30 in the evening. We started off near the Spanish Steps.
Look, a Church!
The first of many, many churches. One of the most memorable things from the time I spent in Italy with my family when I was 11, is the seemingly endless stream of churches we were forced to visit.
When we graduated as a tour group to ‘fully churched Rome-goers’, we were rewarded by learning the ‘Grand Secret of the Thirsty Roman’… a.k.a, how to drink daintily from the little running taps that are scattered around the city…
Just put your finger on the edge, and the water pops up through a tiny whole in the top:
This church, Saint Ignatius, deserves a very special mention, is one of my favourite churches of all the billions I have seen, and is something I would very much recommend you to check out if you’re ever in the area.
Not only is the roof designed to look taller than it is from the inside (you can see, above, the false levels painted onto a nearly flat roof), but it also has a false dome, which looks almost perfect when viewed from the entrance.
There is no Dome!
We also stopped by the Pantheon, lit up in all its glory against the night.
Andy immediately fell in love.
I suspect that Andy’s love of Domes and dome-like structures stems from a a time when we were visited by our architect friend James, and ultimately from when they made joint trip up the Reichstag.
Either way, he was totally in awe (and has spent the rest of the holiday comparing every other experience to that first sighting of his true ‘structure soulmate).
Our final tour stop was the one and only Trevi Fountain, where we frolicked, posed, and threw coins.
Here is our lovely tour guide talking as only an Italian can.
And then, because we are all rather pathetic old things, we headed back home and to bed.
Oh ya, and we finished the night of by stuffing our faces with Panetone and wine.