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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  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]

  • Harold McNeill

    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    January 5, 2020 |

    […] 28. The past as a guide to the future (Part III): Over the past 60 years, many activities the police once performed as a natural part of their daily duty, eventually became incompatible with achieving their basic goals. What happened? (August 2019) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories Why I stand with science? - McNeill Life Stories

    November 11, 2019 |

    […] During the Ice Age, the Earth’s average temperature was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is today. That was enough to keep snow from melting during the summers in northern regions. As snow fell on the snow, glaciers formed. (NASA Earth Observatory) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]