Purple Palate Blog

Days 41- 46 Bella Roma

Writing this on the plane home from Dubai… 6 hours down, 8 to go… Roz officially troppo.

Jumped the slow train from Salerno to Roma, then a taxi from the station to our hotel, the Palace Colonna, directly opposite Parliment (on Piazza Montecitorio), which conveniently, was in session the entire time we were in Rome. This was fine, except that every Carabinari and journalist was in permanent residence outside our hotel foyer.  Have never seen so many (proper) guns in my life… We are not talking side arms here… We are talking assault rifles.

If I go into too much detail, this will take 5 days to write, so I will summarise.

We got to…

  • Fight the hoards at the Spanish Steps… Found a perch out of the way… Great people watching.

  • Wander through the Roman Forum … You seriously did not want to be a Vestel Virgin that got caught out… Brutal… Google it.


  • Climb the Colleseum… The “to restore or preserve argument” got another run here. I would love to see it restored, but just don’t think they could afford it. It apparently cost €20 million just to clean the outside skin. The reason the bulk of the outside 2 rings collapsed during an earthquake, was that they had removed the metal braces to recycle them in medieval times… Which begs the question… Why haven’t they been replaced, especially given Italy’s recent history with earthquakes?

  • Visited the Piazza Navona for Trufulo gelato at Bar Tre Scalin at 11pm
  • Watch the sunset over the Vittorio Emmanuel Monument, then walk back past the illuminated monuments.

  • Visit the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. Weird, both Roz & I preferred Michelangelos The Last Judgement to the ceiling. We were just transfixed. Our favourite moment was when the guy very patiently, and repeatedly, asking people to be silent lost his nana, and screamed into his microphone for silence. Very funny.
  • Walk along the Tiber (and over the island) in the rain, then back over the Ponte Sant’ Angelo.

  • Wander up to Piazza de Popolo, and managed not to break the bank in the process. (Did buy Vanessa a little something though).

  • Do the Ceasar shuffle through St Peters Bascillica. We were unaware that they had canonised 7 saints the day before. It was absolutely packed… Like scary packed. It was a shame, because you really couldn’t stop to look at anything, and they had great sections screened off, so you really couldn’t get a sense of the enormity of the place. But still amazing. I found myself surprisingly moved by the beautiful simple tomb of Saint John Paul II. A perfect unadorned white box, compared to the grand ornate numbers of all the others. 

  • Visit Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, the amazing private residence and gallery of the family of Pope Pamphilj. Fantastic Carivaggioism in display in the most astonishing apartment, right on Via del Corso.
  • Try to not take someones eye out while throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain (you had to get your throwing arm out, because the closest you could get was about 10 meters away).

Roz’s favourite moment by a mile was standing under the oculus in the Pantheon in the rain. She had heard there was no cover on it, and it seemed hard to believe, so we decided to test the theory. How it has remained in such amazing condition whilst been open to the elements is hard to fathom.

Overall Roma is a historically lovely city.  However I much preferred Matera and while Rome is supposed to have the best food, it struggled to live up to that reputation.  I found that much of it was facade.  Awesome from the front, with marble and sculptures, but broken brickwork and damaged structures. 

 If gigantic old buildings are your thing, and a rich tapestry of history get you happy, Rome is for you.

For me the people  of Piedmonte (yes you guys and your friends, Umberto), the landscape of Puglia, the food of Emilia-Romagna, the red wines of Verona, Montacino, and Salento, the hills of Tuscany, and the heart of Umbria impressed me more.

I am a small mountain town boy at heart, and identify more with farmers and workers than with socalites and executives.

Thank you to everyone who followed my blog and I hope to keep in touch with you all.

Special thanks goes to Nicola of Above and beyond travel in Maleny, Vanessa Parle,(for her Rome insights),  Dan and my team at Purple Palate for keeping the shop going well,  my Mum and my in laws for looking after my son (as well as Joe and Toni Walters for looking after my Mum), and finally my Wife Rosalind for putting up with my madness and foibles.

Here is me with full pack, happy to be heading home.




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