Rome Notes

Written by Harold McNeill on November 20th, 2013. Posted in Travelogue

Peoples Square in Rome

Plaza Del Popolo: The entrance, just two blocks from the Tibre River and four from the Vatican, was
starting point of our visit to Rome.

 Link Here to Part 3 Photos

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  Well, I don’t know exactly what the Romans do that is terribly different from what we do, but whatever it was is, we certainly had fun. The sky was clear, the temperature around 20 and the crowds very light.

Our tour guide on the one-hour (plus) trip from Cittivencia to downtown Rome, set the tone with his humorous cynicism about Rome, Italian people, the Vatican and the foibles of Italian politicians and any others who came into his sights.

For instance, when passing the Vatican: “Did you know that Vatican Radio is the most powerful radio station in the world?  If you put a finger up your nose and your other hand over your ear, you can hear Vatican Radio.”

“Do you know which country has the highest percentage of Christians?  Answer: The Vatican, as it was given a plot of land by Mussolini in exchange keeping quiet about the war. Following the war it became an independent country with its own police and laws that governed only the Vatican. Rome now receives more ambassadors than any other country in the world – one for Italy, one for Rome and one for the Vatican.”

“You must be careful of pick pockets – they can steal the socks off you feet without touching your shoes.”

“Now all these stories about gladiators being killed in the coliseum – not true.  They were professional sports athletes like professional sports athletes today – they were paid huge salaries.  Do you think the owners of those gladiators would want them killed – did not happen.”

“It is said that Nero ordered the killing of Christians in the Coliseum – not true. Nero died in 68 AD, the coliseum was not completed until 72 AD.”

And so went the stories, jokes and tidbits of information for the entire trip.  For Rome we opted to explore on our own as it was reported this was on the cusp of the season and access to various sites took only minutes not hours as is the case in peak season.

From the Plaza Del Popolo we headed directly south to Roman Ruins and Coliseum where we spend a couple of hours nosing around in very light crowds. As our guide had explained:  “The construction of new cities over the centuries, was build on the ruins of the old, so much so that if you tired to excavate everything underneath, the most recent city would collapse.”  Well, plenty of excavation has taken place and that which has been uncovered is breathtaking.

Guide:  “Did you know the stadium held 55,000 spectators?”, then continued: “and it only took them 20 minutes in and 20 minutes out. We can’t do that today, can we?”

When the Roman Empire collapsed, the city went from 1.5 million to 10,000.  Much of the best of the best granite was taken to the Christian side of the river and today is built into much of the Vatican.  Reconstruction in Rome today is done with stone.

We then continued south to TIbre Tibre river, but of the twenty-six bridges built over the river by the Romans, four are still in use today – three by pedestrians and one by motor vehicles. Of the thirteen aqueducts built to supply water to Rome, four are still in use.

Following lunch at small underground restaurant, we continued down the Tibre, then crisscrossed the city as we visited a number of historic sites: The Palladium, Piazza Di Trevi fountains, Spanish Stairs and several less well know sites along our route.


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  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold