We went in a tour group to go out to Tivoli to see the Villa d'Este and Hadrian's Villa. The group largely comprised of Americans, though we did meet an Australian couple who we had lunch with after the group had returned to Rome. Brendan and I discussed our tour to Pompeii on the bus, and the American couple in front of us warned us about how terrible it was (which turned out to be true). Our guide was a short Italian guy named Filipe. He was very entertaining and easy to get along with, making with the small talk and jokes all the way out to Tivoli.
The Villa d'Este was our first stop, a villa that belonged to a Italian noble family strongly represented in the church (Cardinal d'Este's mother was the infamous Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander VI). It is huge, and has sixty fountains in all. Filipe pointed out a few of the more notable fountains (the features of which I've pointed out in the gallery notes) and then left us to wander about and take photos for about 45 minutes. After about ten minutes, I decided that I wanted to retire there and be a lady of leisure, needless to say. The gardens are just so beautiful, and some of the photos should give an idea of the scale of the place.
We came out a bit early, so Filipe took us to a cameo shop that was tucked out of the way near the villa's public entrance. It was there where I bought my cameo (which I wore to my graduation, as it happens), which has the huntress Diana carved on it (my favourite of the Olympian pantheon from a young age). It cost about 300 Euro, and since that was the big purchase of my trip, I happily coughed up the amount. I told the owner I was an ancient history student, and he took us into what seemed like a private room and showed off some of the gold jewellery that was being made with ancient Roman coins of Constantine (which was cool, but not really to my liking).
We continued onto Hadrian's Villa from there, which I was really excited about. If I ever own an estate large enough, I want a copy of his canopus replica, complete with statues and Serapeum (Redundant? Yes. But pretty? Yes!), shamefully because it'd be the coolest-looking swimming pool. We evidently did not see the entireity of the Villa grounds, but what we did see was impressive and not disappointing.
On the way back, Filipe talked about about the political climate of Rome. Evidently, a lot of Italians are not admirers of Prodi, and want Berlusconi back in power. The Americans (who were Democrats by the sound of it) couldn't understand how they'd want Berlusconi (who is a media baron) back in power and an intense political discussion ensued, which I decided to stay out of (besides the odd bit of bitching about our PM) and talk to the Australian couple instead, who were from Victoria and had driven around Italy.
We requested to be dropped off near the Pantheon, and the couple (Wayne and Kathy) got off with us and we had lunch together. They enlightened us on some of the areas that we weren't going to (Siena, Pisa, Genoa) before we all set off to the Trevi Fountain. I was able to get batteries for my camera and take photos. There were loads of people there, and as there are at the other tourist attractions, street vendors selling counterfeit designer accessories and novelty toys. It appears however that they were tipped off about approaching police and they all cleared off in a hurry shortly after we arrived. The fountain itself is beautiful, and as the custom goes, I threw a coin in there (not two or three, just one, because I'm a poor student and wasn't willing to throw more money away).
We moved off toward the Pantheon from there. The light wasn't great, so sadly I didn't take a lot of photos in there. It seems that there's some restoration work going on as well, which restricted our access a little to some of the monuments that lined the walls of the church.
At that point, we parted company from Wayne and Kathy and continued onto the Piazza Navona. I took a few photos there, but by that point it was getting cold and Brendan wanted to explore a few churches in the area so we didn't linger. We visited the Church of the Gesu, and by then it was getting dark so after a brief stop at an internet cafe, we headed back to the hotel (and dinner at a Chinese restaurant).
And that was Saturday.
Should've done this ages ago, but I configured the dvd recorder to accept dvds from all regions. This is good, largely for the fact that we can now order dvds from overseas and be able to watch them without any troubles. This means that I should be able to order Rome from Amazon, if it doesn't end up being released here. Yeyz! I'm also wanting Anthony Trollope's He Knew He Was Right and a slew of other titles that just aren't available here.
Of course, this shall be after my bank account recovers sufficiently from the trip. ;p