Over the last 10 years I have been to Italy quite a few times, mainly Milan and its environs, while a previous same-day in-out trip to Rome did not allow for any sightseeing. Not that I had much time on this trip, but I could spare a few hours.
The trip had a somewhat unfortunate start when I misread the gate at Stansted airport. This seems to happen on a regular basis and a bus was called to take me to the correct gate. It was a tight call, but I made the flight. We had a rather bumpy approach into Rome, then I took a bus (only 4) and taxi to my hotel. I was on a student visit at Sapienza University, so most of my day was spent at the university, at first talking to the student about their experience (happy) and then giving a seminar (Education & Ebola. From Surrey to Sierra Leone). The seminar, tough planned for about 40 minutes, lasted 1.5 hours including questions. It was one of the most rewarding seminars that I have presented, with approximately 50 attendees comprising an equal mix of students and academics. Though a long talk, I did not see anybody who looked bored and I had a wide selection of questions from all parts of the room. After the seminar, I was invited to lunch in the local Officers Club and spent some more time with the student.
Later the same afternoon I got some time to spend on the tourist trail in Rome. My choices were the Vatican or the coliseum and I chose the latter. A quick ride on the Metro and I was there. Walking out of the station, I was stunned by the size of the coliseum; did the ancient Romans really build this huge structure? I was amazed! The queue to go inside was quite long and I only had a few hours to see a few more sights, thus I walked towards the Forum Romanum and then the Palazzo Venezia, where the flags were flying at half-mast. I assume this was due to the terror attacks in Belgium the previous day?
Afterwards, I walked towards the Tigris river; I was a little disappointed, not sure why, maybe I had expected a river with more energy and anger, instead finding a rather tranquil flow. The only point of interest was Isola Tiberina, an inhabited island in the river that seems a little out of place.
The sun was starting to set and it was time to get back to the hotel; however, there was still time to get a gelato. When in Rome…
This is probably my last trip to Italy. My priorities have changed, it is time to exit (uscita) and seek new horizons.