The whole world runs on scams. In London, and Moscow, and many other cities, there is a choice of fast train or slow train to get you from the airport to the city centre. In Rome it costs 14 Euros for the Leonardo express or 8 Euros for the slower train, which also involves a change. I went into the train terminal at the airport and the man behind the counter, who probably works for the railways, immediately showed me a glossy flyer that offered airport to hotel minibus shuttle for only 15 Euros. I was tempted to say no to the scam and to buy a train ticket but that would have been cutting off the nose to spite the face. Half a dozen other people also accepted the offer and we were transported into town, at great speed, in a luxury minibus.The (fast) train would have been quicker because the minibus took everybody else to their hotel first but I did get to see some of the sights of Rome - and there are many. Having checked into the hotel I had a look on the map for the nearest sight worth seeing. Turned out to be the Trevi fountain. It was about 20-30 minute walk from the hotel and even at 7 p.m. was packed with tourists.
I grabbed some dinner on the way back to the hotel. "Happy hours" seem to be popular here where you can eat as much as you want but there's only one drink included. 10 Euros. They would have lost out on the deal if I was still a young man. In those days I earned the sobriquet 'Dustbin Des' but I tend not to eat quite as much now. Also on the way back I passed this building and I wanted to take a picture so I could make a comment about passing the red light district. Unfortunately my phone showed only orange. Use your imagination - all the windows were showing red. I'm sure there is a Reeperbahn equivalent in Rome but it wasn't on my list of places to visit.
The next day, after breakfast, I set off for the Vatican. Another country I can tick off the list. I enjoyed a wander, and a wonder, around St Peter's Square. I'm too tight to pay to go into any of the wonderful places around the square and also far too impatient to stand in queues but there are plenty of sites on the internet to allow good close-ups. Click here for a virtual guided tour of the Sistine chapel.
From the Vatican it is but a short bus ride to the Forum and the Coliseum.I forgot to mention yesterday that when I was paying the rather extortionate tourist tax, the hotel receptionist jokingly suggested they needed it because they were building a new coliseum.
Having traipsed around Rome all day Saturday I wanted something different for Sunday so took a bus to the beautiful medieval city of Siena. Rather than inundate you with photos I thought I would just give a link to the google images page.
I flew back to Barcelona on Tuesday and had to quickly unscrew my (empty) 'Buongiorno' head and screw on my (not quite so empty) 'buenos dias' head. Why didn't we all end up speaking Esperanto. At least I didn't have to faff about exchanging Liras for Pesetas.
I will finish with a video clip of Matt Munro singing "three coins in the fountain".