Good morning all on Friday 5th March. Another weekend beckons as we continue to navigate our from the rough seas of winter towards a gentler spring. There's still some way to go until we reach the primavera however and a good deal of turbulence surrounding Italy.
The country hit international headlines yesterday with its decision to block a shipment of 250,000 Astra Zeneca vaccines to Australia, in response to the company falling short of its original commitments. The response from Australia has been fairly temperate and gives the impression that they're not all that bothered.
You would have to say the situation in Australia is in marked contrast to that of Italy where the case numbers are on the up: yesterday there were another 22,865 positive tests, a jump of around two thousand on the day before. Those growing numbers are likely to prompt two more regions (Emilia Romagna and Campania) to enter the red zone of tighter restrictions, including the closure of bars, restaurants and non-essential shops. A glimmer of hope came from European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton yesterday though when he stated "all of Europe will be vaccinated by the end of summer".
Sadly, I have no more at this stage on the Vinegar Wars story developing between Italy and Slovenia, and even Mount Etna seems to have gone quiet for the time being. There is a potential storm brewing around the Italian priesthood however as their members are calling to be pushed up the priority list for vaccination with many of their number falling victim to the virus in the course of their duties.
In matters meteorological, most of the country will be enjoying clement weather today: a mixture of sunny and cloudy spells with temperatures ranging from 9° Celsius in Turin to 16° C in Cagliari and Catania.
There was a great development in Rome earlier this week when the Mausoleum of Augustus was opened to the public for the first time. The enormous, 2,000 year old structure is the burial place of among others, Rome's first emperor: Augustus. It occupies an enviable piece of real estate on the banks of the River Tiber in the city's centro storico and just a stone's throw (applies to Olympic standard stone throwers only) from major sights such as the Spanish Steps. As with everything at the moment, access is limited, but after a heavy financial investment and years of concerted effort, the Mausoleum of Augustus is now added to Rome's already radiant lustre and will become an important part of sightseeing in the city for years to come.
As soon as I've had the chance to visit I will of course be taking and sharing photos of the monument, but for now, let's just humour ourselves and work out how we could fit it into an itinerary of Rome. I always stress the point that it's impossible to see everything in Rome, no matter your length of visit, and that it's a case of prioritising. This city wasn't built in a day apparently.
Much as I veer away from really touristy things, in order to pack as much as you can in on a day in Rome, you can do a lot worse than take one of the open-top bus tours that are hugely popular. If however, you have a number of days to wander the city's streets you could easily work the Mausoleum of Augustus into a walking itinerary. From there it's a 5 to 10 minute walk along the Corso (Via del Corso: one of Rome's oldest and most popular shopping streets) up to the Piazza del Popolo from where you can step up to the Villa Borghese and enjoy the park's open-spaces, monuments and views.
From Villa Borghese you can amble your way towards the Trinità dei Monti, down the Spanish Steps and into Piazza di Spagna. From there you're within striking range of some of Rome's major sights such as the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. You could probably just about fit all of those in to one day's itinerary whilst still having time to enjoy a good lunch and soaking up the atmosphere around the city's historic streets.
It goes without saying that you'd need more time to include the likes of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Saint Peter's Basilica, Castel Sant'Angelo and the Vatican Museums, but even with these few sights ticked-off, you'd still be leaving a huge amount unseen. You can find some more ideas of things to see in Rome via the pages of the website.
Well that's my two penneth added for the week; I'll leave you with some shots of The Eternal City, wish you all a great weekend and come back to see what's happening in the world on Monday.
My name is Dion Protani, founder of Italy Review. The Italy Review blog is designed to provide ideas and inspiration to visit places in Italy you might not have heard about, as well those you have.