We are in Rome, which is the capital of Italy and was the centre of the Roman empire.  We have seen lots of Roman ruins on our holiday, and now we are here!

We visited the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilicia. We had a guide called Antonia who was very nice.  The Vatican is a tiny country all of its own in the middle of Rome, and it is where the Pope lives.  There were lots of amazing artworks from Greek, Roman and Renaissance times.  We saw a floor mosaic from Rman times with Minerva (Goddess of wisdom) with the head of Medusa below her.  We saw an enormous golden statue of Hercules from Roman times, who was the strongest man in the world.  We also saw an amazing statue of Laocoon, a Trojan priest who tried to warn the Trojans about the Trojan Horse, but two sea serpents came across the sea and killed his sons.  Jasper told Antonia the story of the origins of the Trojan War – when Paris gave Venus the golden apple when she promised him Helen of Troy – Daddy was very proud and Antonia was very impressed.  We also saw a famous statue of Apollo that inspired Michaelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. The most amazing thing we saw was the Sistine Chapel, which Michaelangelo painted.  Michaelangelo was a rival of Leonardo’s – they were in competition with eachother.  Michelangelo took years to paint the Sistine Chapel – he had to stand on scaffolding to paint it and hurt his back.  Many years later he painted the Last Judgment on the wall of the Sistine Chapel – a lot of people didn’t like it and he painted himself as a flayed skin to show how he felt about it.  He used the statue of Apollo we saw earlier in the Vatican as the inspiration for Jesus – but some people didn’t like it because it didn’t look the way Jesus was usually painted (with a beard).  We also went into St Peter’s Basilica and saw Michelangelo’s statue La Pieta, which he did when he was only 21.  In it Mary is holding her son Jesus, who had died on the cross.  Margot really wanted to go home by this time, but we calmed her down by telling her that the statue of Mary was a sad mummy holding her baby.

We visited the Colosseum in Rome, which was where the gladiators fought.  It was amazing.  The lions and tigers and gladiators would hide in tunnels and rooms beneath the wooden floor of the Colosseum, and they would be pushed up via a trap door.  The Roman emperors put on the gladiator shows so that the people would like them.  Today, people watch games like football in stadiums which is kind of like the old gladiator games from Roman times.

After the colosseum we went to the Palatine Hill where Romulus built Rome.  Romulus and Remus were put on the Tiber River when they were babies, but a she-wolf saved them and looked after them until they were grown up.  Romulus and Remus had a fight while they were building a wall on the Palatine Hill, and Romulus killed his brother Remus.  Rome was named after Romulus, who was the first king.  On the Palatine Hill Jasper found a blackened coin.  We took it home and cleaned it with vinegar and it turned to silver!  It is a coin from 1920 (nearly 100 years old!) and it has a chariot being drawn by four lions and the word “Aequitas” on it.  Mum says that Aequitas means justice or fairness in Latin.

We are staying in Trastevere in Rome which has lots of cobbled streets and not many cars.  We have been to have sushi and Chinese food at a restaurant here because we are missing this kind of food from Darwin.


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