Well, normally, this is a blog about Paris, so although Rome may be considered as my second most beloved Capital, I will try to make the text short. Furthermore, we spent little time in Rome, preferring enjoying the countryside, the swimming-pool… and the more close sightseeing had already been done at previous visits.

However…  a few pictures from some of the compulsory places, like Fontana di Trevi (see also top picture), Piazza di Spagna, Piazza Navona, Campo de Fiori, Monte Capitolino

Rome is of course full of “ruins” from Roman times, including the Colosseo.

One of the Roman buildings which stands as it was built 126 A.D. is the Pantheon. It still today has the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome!

Too many churches to visit, but here are a few views from Chiesa Santa Maria in Ara Coeli al Campidoglio, Chiesa Nuova, Chiesa del Gesu.

A special mention for Palazzo Farnese. Originally built for the Farnese family (popes…) during the 16th century, with Michelangelo as one of its architects, it’s now the French Embassy.

Some beautiful very old bridges lead over the Tiber, including the Ponte Fabricio, built 62 B.C….

 … which will bring you to the Trastevere on the other side of the river with its narrow streets, full of bars and restaurants… (I learnt that Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone grew up here and even were in the same school class for a year.)

Climbing the hill behind, the Janiculum, you have some splendid views over Rome.

Another way to get a view of all the towers and roofs is to get up on the Pincian Hill behind Piazza de Spagna, where you also will find Villa Medici, now belonging to the French Academy, Villa Borghese… and a lot of green space.


The Vatican

This was not the first time, but the Vatican is certainly worth a second or a third visit.

What was known as the much larger Papal States seized to exist in 1870. It then took a few decades to establish the reduced temporal territories of the Papacy. The Vatican City State is the smallest state in the world with some 800 inhabitants. In its present form it was established in 1929.

It should be noted that the Vatican City is distinct from the Holy See, which is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, the Diocese of Rome, of which the Pope is the bishop and supreme Pontiff. The Diocese includes the City of Rome – with the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which is the official cathedral of the diocese … and the Vatican City with the Basilica of St. Peter, which thus is - only - one of four churches in Rome that hold the rank of "Major Basilica".

It’s however in the Vatican City where the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, has his residence, in the Apostolic Palace - most Popes have remained here since the return from Avignon in 1377 - and although not being the mother church of the Roman Catholic Church, nor the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, the Basilica of St. Peter is of course considered as one of the holiest Catholic sites.

The present Basilica, which replaced a former one with beginnings from the 4th century, the old Constantinian basilica, was built between 1506 and 1626 with a number of successive plans with contributions of Bramante, Raphael  … and especially Michelangelo.

The St. Peter’s Piazza was created by Bernini between 1656 and 1667. In the middle stands an Egyptian obelisk from the 13th century BC, which was erected in Rome in 37 AD.  It’s referred to as “The Witness”, thought to have witnessed St. Peter’s crucifixion around 64 AD.

The Vatican “army” consists today of some 130 Swiss Guards. (The guards must be catholic, single males with Swiss citizenship…)

According to tradition, and some historical evidence, the main altar, the “baldacchino” by Bernini and the cupola (see also top picture) are just over the tomb of St. Peter – the first bishop of Rome - which can be visited underground, together with the tombs of a number of Popes and others. 

(The first time I saw Michealangelo's Pietà was at the New York's World Fair in 1965!)  

The Apostolic Palace contains the Papal Apartments, the Vatican Library… and the Vatican Museums where you can walk through a number of fresco decorated apartments and rooms and admire statues and paintings by Carvaggio, da Vinci, Fra Angelico…  and several by Raphael, including “The School of Athens” of which you can see a detail with da Vinci in the role of Plato…

… and a number of chapels, including the Sistine Chapel (photos not allowed), decorated by Botticelli… and of course especially known for the ceiling by Michelangelo.

Looking through the windows, you can also admire the Vatican Hill with some nice buildings and beautiful gardens.


Villa d'Este - Tivoli

Now and then leaving our holiday residence (see previous post), one of the places we visited was Tivoli and the famous Villa d’Este with its gardens. (There is a lot more to see in and around Tivoli, but we arrived rather late in the afternoon - not easy to get the kids out of the swimming-pool.)

The Villa d’Este was created during the second half of the 16th century by the son of the famous Lucrezia Borgia (and grandson of Pope Alexander VI).

The villa…

… has some fantastic frescoes …

… from where you can overlook the splendid gardens. The design of the garden, on a heavy slope, and the hydraulic installations (actually somehow copied from what the Romans did several centuries earlier) inspired for long many garden architects all over Europe.

Apart from the fantastic beauty of the place, the fresh water appearing all over is perfectly welcome a sunny and hot Italian summer day.

After having been neglected for a while, but restored during the 19th century and finally taken over and further restored by the Italian State in 1920, the villa and the garden are now listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and have been celebrated by poets, painters and musicians, including by Franz Liszt, who was a frequent guest and wrote “Les Jeux d’Eau à la Villa d’Este”, here interpreted by George Cziffra. 


"Wild flowers"

I will revert with some more posts from Italy, but first I wanted to report about "today" and Paris – which this blog should after all basically be about…

We have had some very hot days and as well people...

... as birds in "my" park were in clear need of shadow. 

Fortunately, water from the Wallace fountains was available. 

I’m pleased to see that the Paris parks nowadays often have a “corner” where more or less wild flowers are allowed to grow. This is also the case with “my” little park.

Butterflies and bees enjoy…

… as do some other insects.