Rome Travel Guide

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Capital Days

In a few days stretch recently, Rome hosted a G-8 meeting, was the scene of the world soccer championship finals, had a big national holiday (Republic Day, June 2), and was the last stage of the classic Italian bicycle tour (Giro d'Italia - photo at right near the beginning in front of the Vittoriano, in Piazza Venezia, with the rain just starting), celebrating its 100th year. Being visitors, and not having to get to and from work or figure out what to do with our kids on a holiday, we enjoy the hubbub (tho' it did upset my plans that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was in town today, closing down the Capitolini museums). Rome usually overreacts (in our HO) to all these events, closing more streets, businesses, and venues than it seems to us they need to, becoming an "armed city," as the papers say, and frustrating everyone.

Rome surprised us for the Giro d'Italia by being organized and yet not overly protective. In fact, we were shocked at how close we - and everyone else - could get to the riders, how easily anyone could cross the route, how friendly some of the police guarding the route were, and how fun it all was. The last stage was a time trial - so the riders went off at 1 and then 2 minute intervals. (Photo at right - police motorcycle escorts pulling out of the pool to run in advance of a rider; bottom of Trajan's column across the street.) For people who weren't that interested, we spent almost 3 hours watching the riders at various places, including turns and wet cobblestones (the winner, Russian Menchov, fell near the end - just out of our sight). It's a lovely sight to see Rome as the backdrop (and ground) for an exciting race; it shows off the city at its best (photo at left, rider coming off the Pincio - and several hairpin curves) into Piazza del Popolo).

The few photos here give some semblance of that feeling. (Photo below left, rider on via del Corso; below 2nd left, merchandise van - the winner of each stage wears a pink shirt (and, no, Mom didn't buy her the stuffed animal with Giro logo); last photo, bottom right, nearing the home stretch.) Dianne

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