Sunday and we were off on a golf buggy tour of Rome to drive by all the major sights… or were we?!
It turned out the entire centre of Rome was closed for a breast cancer run and our tour turned into a spontaneous itinerary slightly different from our booking.
We were in a group of ten and taking the backward, outward facing seats behind a couple of Irish ladies, we knew we were in for a laugh.
We stopped to pick up Barbara from Florida, a lady who appeared to be on her last legs and off we went with our witty Italian guide, Martino whose grasp of English humour was very good indeed.
After about fifteen minutes (the tour was three hours) it seemed we were going nowhere fast and so we spontaneously rescheduled to go to Roman Catacombs just outside the walled city.
We bumped along the original road from Rome to Sicily, cobbled and flagstoned before arriving at the ancient burial grounds, the underground tombs of half a million Romans.
Just outside Rome, the scenery turned green and hid the secrets below. The catacombs date back to 200AD and were excavated from the top down putting the oldest tombs closest to the surface. No bones remained as the tombs had been emptied to protect them from robbers as artefacts, marble and items of value had been removed over the centuries.
Barbara from Florida was feeling quite unwell by this time and decided not to attempt the catacombs, a good decision as the steps were steep and the temperature cool.
Emerging forty minutes later it seemed Barbara may have either fallen asleep, fainted or died. An ambulance was called but apparently she’d eaten something which had disagreed with her (we had heard an indication of this earlier) and she felt much better after going to the loo. Why we knew this I have no idea but we were soon back on the road complete with Barbara, other Floridians, hilarious Irish ladies and a large lesbian Australian couple. A motley crew indeed.
Eventually we threaded our way back through the traffic still navigating street closures and ended up at the pantheon.
The piazza was heaving with tourists, the sun was beating down and it all seemed quite chaotic after the morning fiasco.
At this stage, almost four hours later, we were a little hot and tired so our tour guide bought us all a gelato and we jumped off the golf buggy into the throngs of Roman tourists to find our way to some small streets off the tourist trail where we could chill out before browsing a few independent boutiques.