Life Lately #2

It’s time for a little catch up. Time seems to be flying by right now at a rate of knots as we find ourselves in the midst of crunchy-leafed autumn. Here’s what I’ve been up to lately…

Going out with the girls for Vogue’s Fashion Night Out. girls fashion night outComplimentary bubbly whilst watching a few fashion shows wasn’t a bad way to spend the evening.IMG_3150 WP_20131010_008There were DJs scattered all over town, including outside of Selfridges and in many of the shops. I even spotted Bip Ling on the decks in Ugg.WP_20131010_003Whilst I didn’t buy anything on the night itself, I have recently made a few cheeky purchases from New Look. A girl can never have enough pairs of cute pumps right?New look gold shoes new look good shoes 2 black and snake shoe black and snake 2And as I love anything sheep-related, I just had to pick up this cute jumper!sheep jumperHopping from shopping to science (a topic that Darren is much more interested in!), Darren and I had a great time at the Museum of Science and Industry when we went to visit the Brains: The Mind as Matter exhibition. Exploring the quest of science over the years to manipulate and decipher the human brain, it was fascinating. I’d highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area.

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Although no photos were allowed in the exhibition itself, I did end up getting my own picture on the screens hanging from the ceiling in their entrance hall!MOSI TV screensNow it’s rare that I write a post where food doesn’t feature in some capacity, and this blog post will be no exception. Much to my excitement, this week we’ve been cracking out the first mince pies of the season. I think I’ll pretty much be living on these right through to January and I can highly recommend Waitrose’s offerings.IMG_3183Another new foodie item that has recently made its way into our life is this rather serious looking machine. IMG_3190Having become hooked on proper espressos whilst we were in Italy, Darren has bought himself an espresso machine. I’m not keen on coffee myself, but he’s loving it.

And continuing with the theme of food, as soon as I found out that we were having another Manchester Food & Drink Festival, we went straight down to Albert Square to see what was going on.IMG_3138 IMG_3137 IMG_3145We ended up picking up a bag full of interesting sausages. It was the same sausage stall that we’ve seen at the Christmas markets, so we made a bee-line for it straight away as we knew how good they would be! Once the Christmas markets launch in mid-November, we’ll definitely be there buying some more 🙂IMG_3130And of course I needed to indulge my sweet tooth, so we tucked into plenty of churros dipped in chocolate sauce. IMG_3126 IMG_3132 Whenever I see somewhere selling churros, I always have to get involved!IMG_3135What have you been up to lately?

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Sunshine Award

Today is a ‘sharing the love’ kind of day. The starting point for this post was when the lovely Sarah from Avoir la Peche, kindly nominated me for the Sunshine Award. Officially, this award is given to “bloggers who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” Personally, I just think it’s a great way to share the love, get to know other bloggers and find out lots of fun new things about them! So of course, I jumped at the chance to do my own Sunshine Award post.IMG_2563

So what’s involved?

1. Share 11 random facts about yourself
2. Answer the 11 questions set by your nominating blogger
3. Nominate 11 bloggers yourself
4. Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer then let them know they’re up

sunshine coverSo, here we go…

Share 11 random facts about yourself:

1. At the age of 17 (an age when most girls are trying to convince security guards that they are older than they actually are in order to get in to places), I managed to convince a security guard at Glastonbury Festival that I was 12, therefore qualifying for child entry, which was free. Cheeky. AroundSite5-Glastonbury2009-GS-282. Back home on the farm, we used to give names to all of our cows. We even had one called Lucy, named after me!

3. I have a bit of an obsession with colourful skinnies and have an entire drawer of my chest of drawers dedicated to them.Colourful skinny jeans4. It has only ever rained on two of my birthdays. Considering that I am 25 and have always been in the UK for my birthday, I consider that pretty lucky. Someone up there clearly likes me.

5. I have two younger brothers, Oliver and Samuel. However as they’re much taller than me, they both call me their little sister!Exif_JPEG_PICTURE6. I still keep my university gown in my wardrobe and long for an occasion when I can come up with an excuse for wearing it. Harry Potter – themed fancy dress maybe?

7. My boyfriend Darren is 1 ft and 4 inches taller than me. There’s a bit of a mismatch in height there so he comes in very handy for reaching up to tall shelves.IMG_06528. When I’m just hanging out at home, I pretty much live in my pink dressing gown. Unless we’re experiencing a heat wave (unlikely!) I will always pop it on when I get home. So cosy and warm – it’s just like a big hug!

9. I was taught by some pretty nutty academics whilst at university, including one lady who decided that 7.20am every Tuesday morning was an OK time to run our weekly maths tutorial sessions. It was a twenty minute cycle for my friend Crispin and I to get to her office, so luckily the ride helped to wake us up. As our tutorials were in small groups (usually only two students), you definitely had to stay awake as you were constantly being asked questions!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA10. When I was little I used to be obsessed with all Enid Blyton books. The Famous Five, Secret Seven, Mallory Towers, The Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair…I loved them all! 

11. If I could have any job in the world, I would love to have David Attenborough’s job. He basically gets to travel around the world to the most amazing places and then learn about loads of cool animals! Sounds ideal to me 🙂136183-004-BD3027D4

Here are the questions that Sarah asked. There are definitely a few toughies in here!

What flavour of ice cream is most like you and why? Ooooo, tricky one. Every answer I come up with just seem ridiculously cheesy, so I’m just going to embrace the cheese and say Chocolate Chip because I’m definitely not super smooth, but you’ll find little nuggets of sweetness!IMG_2710Chocolate or Cheese – you have to give up one now for the rest of your life. Which will it be? Well, we currently have copious amounts of cheese and chocolate residing within our apartment, so suffice it to say that I’m pretty obsessed with both.  These really are some very tricky questions! I adore so many types of cheese, from creamy goats cheese, to rich melted Camembert, to gorgeously mature cheddar…. However I also have a massive sweet tooth so having chocolatey treats on a regular basis is a must in order to keep me ticking over! Chocolate bars, chocolate puddings, chocolate mousses, chocolate brownies, chocolate caramel shortbreads. It’s a close call, but I think that chocolate narrowly wins out on this battle. Sorry cheese. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you.

What is the craziest place you’ve been to in the world and why? I’m going to plump for the Blue Grotto in Croatia. Just off the coast of Vis, these caves are only accessible via a very small boat that travels through a low narrow opening in the rocks. 2771825629_57a2e5fd49_zAfter crouching down into the bottom of the boat as it squeezes through the opening, once inside the caves you travel in darkness and it’s all a little bit spooky, until you reach the centre of the caves where you are greeted by this amazing glow from underneath you. These caves are completely dark apart from the water at the bottom which glows with an ethereal blue light. blue-cave-modra-spiljaIt’s a natural phenomenon that just looks like something out of this world. 

312054_10100170017121735_49672585_nA periscope-like opening on the ceiling of the cave lets in light so that it appears to shine upwards from the floor of the cave and creates an iridescent blue glowing effect all around the cave, whilst objects in the water look silver. Unfortunately the photos don’t really do this amazing place justice, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one!

What is your ‘claim to fame’? I.e. what famous person have you met, hung out with, or have you ever been famous for something yourself? I’m still waiting for my 15 minutes of fame, so probably my best claim to fame is going to college with the rowing double Olympic gold medalist (and general heart throb) Tom James. Surrounded by girls whenever he entered the college bar, all of the men wanted to be him and all of the girls wanted to be with him!Tom+James+Olympics+Day+8+Rowing+pMlSoRfPSCBx

845_587818001220_5206_n (1)What blog post did you read by someone else and wish that you had written it? I think that Flora from Two with Seven has the most beautiful way with words, so I wish I could have written many of her blog posts! In terms of individual blog posts, The Londoner’s Slutty Brownies, have to be a winner.sluttybrownies-02-PNTxT8C2Gxxm83HKqvLJ25What musical act dead/alive do you wish you could see? My boyfriend is absolutely horrified at my answer, but I have to say the Spice Girls, as cheesy as that may sound. Stop, Wannabe, Spice Up Your Life – classic tunes, great outfits, plenty of girl power…what more could you want?Spice-Girls-MTV-Movie-AwardWhat was your favourite nursery rhyme, song or poem when you were little? The Wheels on the Bus. Catchy song, great actions!

Have you ever walked out on a film? Or wished you had have done? What film and why? I don’t think I’ve ever walked out on a film in the cinema. To be honest, I don’t actually watch many films, and tend to be quite selective about what I watch, so it’s unlikely that I’d end up watching something I didn’t like. However, two films that I really didn’t get into (which I know that other people love!) are Inception and Team America.

What day in your life has been more significant than any other? Possibly the day that I got my job offer for my graduate job in Manchester. Within four years I’ve properly settled in up here, bought an apartment, moved in with the boyfriend, started saying pants instead of trousers, and generally turning into a Northerner.Manchester-Art-and-Culture-getawayIf you could bring any imaginary film or TV character to life for a day, who would it be? Mr Darcy *swoon*

darcy_396_396x222And finally…..Prince Harry or Prince Wills? (assuming Wills were still single) Definitely Wills, because then I could be queen! Mwahahaha.

So, now it’s time for my nominations. I would like to choose the following lovely bloggers…

1. Sofie from Little Green Sofie

2. Emma from Cooking in Cashmere

3. Daniela from Couture and Crumpets

4. Charlotte from Makeup by Candlelight

5. Caroline from Cocktails and Caroline

6. Emily from My Gingerbread Journey

7. Sophie from Covered in Cow Poop

8. Jen from English Rose from Manchester

9. Ibbs from The Lobster & Me

10. India from My Uni Years

11. Laura from Side Street Style

And here are my 11 questions:

1. If you had to choose your last meal on earth, what would it be?

2. What was the best fancy dress outfit that you’ve ever worn (bonus points if you can share a photo!)?

3. If you could hop into a time travelling machine, when and where would you go, and why?

4. What are you most proud of doing?

5. What are your guilty pleasures?

6. If you were in charge of the country, what new law would you introduce?

7. Why did you decide to start blogging?

8. What is your favourite holiday destination?

9. If you could have one superpower, what superpower would you want to have?

10. What is the best present you’ve ever received?

11. Who are your role models?

I’d love to know your answers!

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#Tweet4atable

You know the saying ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’? Well, I have to say, it’s not always the case…

After a little trip to the Museum of Science & Industry to indulge our inner science geeks and wander around a fascinating exhibition about brains, we headed to Exchange Square to visit the pop up Tweet 4 A Table restaurant. #tweetforatableTweet 4 A Table have being going all around the country dishing out antipasto sharing platters and succulent burgers galore. All you had to do in order to get involved was send them a little tweet asking if you could have a table, and those who got lucky found themselves sitting down to a yummy meal, absolutely free.

We went for a lunch time slot and were thrilled to see a ridiculously long platter of food swiftly turn up in front of us.WP_20130926_005After grabbing our drinks  – a cheeky Prosecco for me and a sparkling raspberry juice for Darren – we tucked in.

WP_20130926_003From mouth-watering cold meats – Spianata Romana, Proscuitto and Salami Milano, to tasty Comté, it was fairly reminiscent of a wonderful antipasto platter that Darren and I had shared in Rome, just over a week before.IMG_3123However, with the added flavours and textures of Peppadews stuffed with cream cheese, Summer Kiss tomatoes, red pepper houmous, lemon and coriander houmous, tomato and chilli chutney and some incredibly moreish green olive bread, I have to say, I think I actually prefer this one, served in little old Manchester.WP_20130926_007The Peppadews stuffed with cream cheese are definitely a new favourite of mine. I’m a real cream cheese addict (hula hoops dunked in cream cheese are one of my favourite snacks!) so these were always going to be a winner with me!Tweet for a table ManchesterSo why is it free you ask? Well, all of the goodies served in the restaurant are products that you can buy ready-prepared from The Co-operative Food. In a yummy and interactive take on marketing, Tweet 4 A Table have been travelling around the country to show that you don’t need to go out to a restaurant or shop in an expensive deli to have a fancy lunch….tweet for a table platterIt was a surprisingly gorgeous meal, perfect for a relaxed lunch time enjoying the last of the September sun. I know I’ll definitely be trying those Peppadews out again!The Co-operative Truly Irresistable Peppadews Stuffed with Cream CheesThanks Twitter!

I think that Tweet4atable has now finished doing the rounds of the country for this year, but I’d recommend following them on Twitter in order to keep updated on future events.

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Highlights from Florence

After a wonderful time in Rome, we headed north to the beautiful city of Florence. With a rich artistic and architectural heritage, as well as a gelaterie on every corner, we threw ourselves in with enthusiasm.

Whilst we took about a million photos and visited soooo many places, if I wrote about everything we got up to, it would take pages and pages, so here are some of the highlights…

First off, how about these ice creams?IMG_2328IMG_3069 Multiple ice cream stops a day were always on the menu!IMG_2710Anything involving hazelnuts or biscuits were my favourite flavours. They were mouth-wateringly good.

Whilst wandering around the city with our ice creams, we gazed in wonder at the stunning architecture surrounding us. We ended up staying close to the beautiful cathedral which was just mesmerising as you looked up at all of the intricate details; your brain struggling to take it all in.IMG_2308 IMG_2310 Florence Firenze DuomoIn order to get the best view, we headed up the bell tower (over 500 steps!).IMG_2333 Look at that view…IMG_2334 Talking of great prospects, we also went to visit Florence’s most famous resident, the handsome David.IMG_2325Beautifully carved, with incredible detail, he’s certainly a hunky fellow.

As the birthplace of the Renaissance, the people of Florence have a real passion for art and are very proud of their collections. So many gems have been carefully preserved over the centuries. We even found the original inspiration for the Statue of Liberty.IMG_2557With visits to gaze in wonder at the work of some of Italy’s greatest creative minds at the Uffizzi, the Accademia, and more churches than you can shake a stick at, we also look time to indulge our inner science geeks, getting up close and personal with extinct beasties…IMG_2444IMG_2443…as well as a trip to the Galileo Museum.IMG_2698Now, we weren’t exactly expecting anything of a biological nature to appear in the Galileo museum, as Galileo is more known for his work as a physicist and astronomer than as a biologist, but what do you think these are?IMG_2704I know that the Italians like hoarding relics, but really…IMG_2702Yep, Galileo’s fingers in a couple of display boxes!IMG_2701Eeeek!

Moving on to something a bit more appetising…

As ever, lots and lots of eating was high up on the agenda, with our wonderful host Giancarlo, treating us to the most gorgeous breakfasts every morning. Say ‘hello’ to possibly the best home-made cereal mix in the world…IMG_2421…and plenty of home-baked goods to set us up for the day!IMG_2422IMG_2425If you want to visit him for gorgeous breakfasts, and a beautiful B&B, contact him here.

Plenty of pizza was of course consumed…IMG_2592IMG_2590IMG_2600Luckily we did lots and lots of walking, so hopefully we managed to burn it all off!

As big cycling fans, we were pretty pleased that we’d managed to coincide our trip with the world road cycling championships which came right through the centre of Florence. IMG_2426 IMG_2695I was super excited to see some of my favourite riders, including the recent Tour de France winner Chris Froome, cycling past in a blur of frenzied activity.IMG_2862 IMG_2858The people of Florence had truly embraced the arrival of the world championships in their home town, with plenty of the shops incorporating cycling into their window displays.IMG_2407 I particularly liked this knitted bicycle frame! IMG_2416The creative spirits of Florence really are everywhere.

Florence was just so beautiful; we wanted to explore every corner.Palazzo Vechio chapel From noble sculptures…IMG_2321 IMG_2323 …to elaborate medieval ceilings…IMG_2362 IMG_2365 …to the rickety old bridges, stretching over the river…IMG_2405 IMG_2406 IMG_2607IMG_3073 …yummy food around every corner…IMG_3097 IMG_2368…more grand buildings than you can shake a stick at…IMG_2573 IMG_2561IMG_2610…and wonderful views and grandeur wherever you looked.IMG_2578 IMG_3012 IMG_2602Florence, we will miss you…IMG_3084

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Ancient Rome

For our third day, we went in search of some ancient history; keen to see the wonderful spectacle that is the Colosseum. Many moons ago, Darren and I had both studied the ancient Romans in history lessons at school, but nothing beats going to the actual locations of these incredible civilisations in order to fully appreciate what life would have been like. En route to the Colosseum, we went for a wander around the old Roman Forum. IMG_2259Grabbing our audio guides, we pottered around the cluster of ruins that once upon a time was a thriving hub of public life, with bustling market places, government buildings, grand monuments and impressive temples. Now mostly in ruins, we used our imaginations to picture what this great space would once have looked like. IMG_2253IMG_2261IMG_2256For centuries this area was the place to be, but with the fall of the Roman Empire, the area gradually fell into disrepair.  As you can see, not many of the original buildings and structures remained intact, as the stones were used to build other grand plazas and buildings within Rome. However the temple below survived because it was converted into a Christian church, and therefore still had a useful function.IMG_2264After soaking in all the sights of the forum, we headed up the road to the nearby Colosseum.IMG_2283As you would expect, the queues here were monstrous, but luckily we’d bought a ticket at the Roman Forum that also included entry to the Colosseum, so we headed straight in.IMG_2277It was only when you got inside that you really appreciated quite how massive it was.IMG_2268Look how tiny all of the other people on the other side looked!IMG_2265I hadn’t realised quite how bloodthirsty the ancient Romans were until visiting the Colosseum. Back in the day, events here lasted all day long, and anybody who was anybody in Rome came to watch and cheer. Seating around 50,000 people, the excited crowds would be treated to such spectacles as gladiatorial battles, executions, wild animal hunts, mock battles and watching condemned criminals battle with dangerous animals (usually resulting in the criminals being ripped apart)! IMG_2270Battles and hunts would have been staged with elaborate sets and huge numbers of exotic animals were imported from Africa and the middle east to take part and eventually be slaughtered. The Emperor Trajan is said to have celebrated his military victories in 107 AD with contests involving 11,000 animals and 10,000 gladiators over the course of 123 days.

ColosseumThe scale of this place was just incredible! You just gazed around in awe as you pictured the scenes that would have been played out here nearly 2000 years ago.

After lunch and our customary afternoon nap, it was time for something a little different as we headed to the wonderful Gallery Borghese on the outskirts of Rome.borgOwned by a nephew of the Pope, this imposing looking mansion became one of the world’s first museums, and was absolutely filled with treasures. Back in the seventeenth century, being the Pope’s nephew meant that Cardinal Borghese had an almost limitless supply of cash to purchase gems for his collection, and if cash wouldn’t get him what he wanted, his power and position in society was enough to guarantee him what he wanted. This led to an incredible collection, including works from Bernini, Caravaggio and Titian. Although several key pieces were pinched by Napoleon to sit in the Louvre, many beauties still remain.ApolloAndDaphneMy favourite piece in the whole gallery had to be Bernini’s Apollo & Daphne, capturing the moment when Daphne starts to turn into a tree as she struggles to escape from Apollo’s clutches. The carving of the marble is so intricate and you have to circle the statue multiple times in order to let all of the detail soak in. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the gallery so thanks to Wikipedia for this photo!

After finishing our visit to the gallery and starting the long trek back to where we were staying, the sun started to set, creating the most beautiful sky.IMG_2292By the time we got back to the city centre, it was well and truly dark.IMG_2293 The city looked amazing when it was all lit up.IMG_2294IMG_2296 With weary feet, we headed for a dinner of pizza (obviously!) and savoured the views, enjoying our last night in this wonderful city before heading north to Florence the next day.

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Chez Pope, Vatican City

The next day we pootled over to the smallest independent state in the world – Vatican City, home of the Pope and his best chums. IMG_2223Accompanying us were about a million other tourists. It was packed out. Luckily, we’d already taken the initiative and booked ourselves onto a guided tour with Viator which allowed us to skip the ginormous queues. I think if we’d turned up and had to queue, we probably would have been so put off by the size and slowness of the queue that we would have just turned back again! As it was, we met our lovely guide, slipped our audio sets round our necks, and jumped straight into the Vatican museums.Vatican MuseumSet around a large courtyard, the museums are full of the Pope’s private collections.Vatican City Vatican City pinecone statueOnce again, my eyes were glued to the ceilings.  The Popes through the years have certainly enjoy a decadent fresco or two.Vatican ceiling 2Vatican ceilingFrom statues, to tapestries, to paintings, the Popes have been prolific collectors over the years.IMG_2148One thing I thought was rather funny, was the little modesty fig leaves that had been carefully placed over any rude bits on the original statues, during a period when it was decided that it was too crude to have fully naked statues on display any more. IMG_2156Next, we went into the papal apartments, where the fondness for beautiful frescoes continued…IMG_2177There wasn’t a massive amount of furniture in the apartments, probably because it would get in the way of the huge numbers of tourists that visit everyday, but the amazing paintings were certainly enough to wow. Each successive Pope had his own idea of how he wanted to decorate his rooms, enlisting some of the great painters, such as Raphael, with some Pope’s deciding to have paintings of themselves painted directly on to the walls. Finally, we made our way to the huge St Peter’s Basilica, one of the largest churches in the world.IMG_2225 IMG_2221 IMG_2199 IMG_2198It was massive.IMG_2203 IMG_2211 IMG_2218 As per the rest of the Vatican City that we’d seen, it was meticulously decorated.IMG_2207Despite looking like a big show piece, the basilica is fully functional as an actual church for everyday people like you and me, as well as just the pope. Anyone is welcome to go there to get married, or baptised. Our tour guide was a local so this was where she had been baptised. Lucy in St Peter's BasilicaOn our way out we passed the amazingly dressed Swiss Guards, who were on patrol outside of the basilica, whilst trying not to be too embarrassed about their outfits!IMG_2219 IMG_2220After writing a few postcards, we made our way back into the real world.IMG_2222After a morning full of papal splendour, we were in need of some quiet time away from the crowds. This came about perfectly after lunch when we got a bit lost on our way back to where we were staying and found a beautiful park. Very quiet and almost empty, it was a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the crowds back at the Vatican.IMG_2227 IMG_2231 IMG_2229 IMG_2228As we were quite high up, we also got a great view over Rome, and were able to pick out some of the sites we’d looked at yesterday.IMG_2232 IMG_2233After a long nap (having a riposo was a part of the Italian culture that we were keen to embrace!), we had a potter around the neighbourhood we were staying in before heading out to dinner. IMG_2241 Eating outAfter eating so much that we thought we might burst, we finally headed home, excited about the next day to come, where we would be exploring Ancient Rome…

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Our first day in Rome

When it comes to choosing where to go on holiday, I can be very indecisive. I normally just feel bamboozled by choice. However this year, I knew straight away where I wanted to go – Italy. Glorious weather, some of the best art collections in the world, amazing historical sites, gelato extraordinaires…need I say more. Therefore, Rome and Florence were where we decided to jet off to. IMG_2058After a ridiculously early flight that involved waking up at 2.45am, as soon as we’d dropped our bags off in our room in Rome, we went out on the hunt for our first pizza. We each picked up a slice to go, oozing with mozzarella, and headed into the centre of the city. I was so hungry and chomped into my pizza so fast that I ended up spilling pizza topping down my blouse! Ooops. IMG_2048After a quick tidy up, we set off to explore the city, hopping from street to street and trying to avoid being mown down by the erratic Italian drivers!IMG_2055I had a couple of places that I knew I wanted to visit, and we decided to walk everywhere in the hope that we’d accidentally come across a bunch of other wonderful gems.

The first place I had on my list of ‘must sees’ was the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj after seeing it on India’s blog. En route, we stumbled across this beast of a monument. IMG_2050At 135m wide and 81m tall, this marble structure is the Altar of the Fatherland, built in honour of the first king of unified Italy and also holding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with an eternal flame, built under the statue. IMG_2060One of the guidebooks I’d read described it as an eyesore, and apparently it hasn’t been particularly popular with many Italians, earning itself various nicknames from the ‘wedding cake’ to the ‘typewriter’. However, whilst it is huge, I rather liked its grandness.IMG_2052After spending a few minutes admiring it, and trying to avoid invoking the wrath of the guarding police men who blew their whistles at anybody breaking any rules such as sitting on the steps or eating, we made our way to the Palazzo to get a taste of how the rich families of Rome used to live in the 18th century. The Doria Pamphilj family were linked to a succession of popes and certainly had plenty of spare cash which they used to great effect in elaborately decorating their palace here in Rome. IMG_2062Built around a beautifully peaceful central courtyard, where the hustle and bustle of the city’s noises seemed a million miles away, it has been described by many as a mini Versailles. IMG_2064Having picked up an audio guide each, Darren and I wandered around, marvelling at the beautiful decoration.IMG_2066Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a bathroom like this?

doria gallerydoriaAll of the rooms were so ornately decorated, with touches of gold leaf, beautiful paintings and twinkling chandeliers everywhere. doria2Despite being such a lovely place to visit, it seems to have fallen under the radar of most tourists as it was relatively quiet when we visited, which meant that you could take the time to properly appreciate the features and artwork in all of the rooms.

After the beautiful palace, we set off for another amble around Rome, this time on a hunt for the Pantheon. En route, we sat down to rest our achy feet and heard a pair of American tourists exclaiming very loudly about a wonderful church they had just visited. Rome is full of churches (over six hundred!), of various shapes and sizes, and the Italians are known for decorating them very beautifully, so we headed in the direction that the Americans had just come from.IMG_2082This was the church of St Ignatius and was filled with gorgeous artwork everywhere you looked. IMG_2072A common theme throughout our time in Italy was that I ended up spending a lot of time staring at the beautiful ceilings! Out came my glasses, in order to properly enjoy the wonders high above our heads.IMG_2081It was just as incredible as the Americans had described. I particularly liked the story behind the dark fresco painting on this circular patch of the ceiling.IMG_2079The architect had originally wanted to add a tall dome with a cupola but the monks that lived nearby had complained that if such a dome was built, it would ruin their view. Therefore a compromise was reached where the artist painted the ceiling to make it look as if there was a 3D dome, when actually there wasn’t!

After giving ourselves neck ache staring at the beautiful frescoes, we made our way to the Pantheon. IMG_2089Built as a temple to the ancient gods of Rome almost 2000 years ago, the Pantheon has been in continuous use ever since, and with the rise of Christianity, was converted into a Roman Catholic church.IMG_2113IMG_2102Again, my eyes were drawn upwards, this time towards the bright light shining in through the nine metre wide opening to the sky, funneling in and illuminating the interior. Sometimes even the simplest of decorations can draw you in as much as the elaborately embellished frescoes of other churches. IMG_2090It was packed inside, so after a while we wriggled our way out and kept wandering around the city, passing more ancient Roman buildings…IMG_2117…and the glorious Trevi Fountain…IMG_2118…and headed to the heaving Spanish steps. IMG_2125After climbing all the way up, we sat down and just watched the world go by.IMG_2126We’d managed to see an amazing amount of wonderful sights in this glorious city, and it was only our first day. After a good rest, we headed for our second pizzas of the day, and a very big sleep. 2.45am starts and walking miles around Rome lead to a good night’s sleep!

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