Rome the city of “La Dolce Vita” and pen pal Luca !

Rome and La Dolce Vita

Today I am taking you on a flash visit to Rome, a totally unexpected trip that was worthwhile! My great passion for Michelangelo lured me to this city and, if the dear old man was still alive, I would thank him with a huge hug.

View of Rome

It is 09:00 on the penultimate day of my stay in Florence. I am at the station “Santa Maria Novella” waiting for the high-speed train to take me to Rome in 1 hour and 15 minutes. What a great invention! The train is very comfortable and because of the Covid, only the window seats are occupied, so not everything about the Covid is bad….

We steam through the beautiful Tuscan landscape with its typical cypresses, such amazing scenery.

The Tuscan landscape

The journey went smoothly and before I realise it I am at “Stazione Roma Termini” in the heart of Rome. I can’t suppress a big smile (which, of course, no one can see) and a little jump of joy, a new adventure can start! My online ticket for the Musei Vaticani and the Capela Sistina gives me entrance at 12:30 so there is still time for a quick walk through the centre of Rome. I have to start at the “Fonte di Trevi”, of course. The famous fountain where the filming for the renowned film “LA DOLCE VITA” was made.

Fontana di Trevi

Fonte di Trevi

Without any doubt this fountain is the most beautiful one in Rome and at 20 meters wide and 26 meters high, also the largest. The name Trevi, derived from “Tre Vie” which means three roads, is located at exactly the point where three roads meet. And then there is the myth of the coins……

  • Throw one coin in the fountain and you will return to Rome.
  • Throw two coins in the fountain and you’ll fall in love with a beautiful Italian.
  • Throw three coins in the fountain and you will marry the person you have met.

Jeez, what a fool I am! I forgot to throw two coins in the fountain🤗.

a scene from the film La Dolce VitaYou probably also know this famous romantic scene from ” La Dolce Vita! Marcello and Anita in the middle of the fountain. If you haven’t seen Frederico Fellini’s masterpiece yet, watch it on a rainy day. Like most old movies this classic film is a bit slow but well worth watching. Link to film  –


From the Fonte di Trevi I continue my way towards the Pantheon and I truly hope I get to see the interior of this impressive building. Only when you arrive at the Pantheon do you realise how high this building is. I am lucky, again the Covid is to my advantage,  I am in!

The Pantheon

The interior is impressive and hard to comprehend how they could construct such an enormous dome so long ago. The Pantheon is an ancient temple built in 25 B.C. but has been rebuilt twice since. Once after a devastating fire in 80 A.D. and again in 110 A.D. when it had been struck by lightning. Apparently, this doesn’t only happen to me 😉.

Until 1434 the Pantheon had the largest dome in Italy but that year, the Santa Maria del Fiore’s dome in Florence (see the previous article about Florence) became the biggest one.

Interior from the Pantheon

 Piazza Navona

So what is next? Do I still have time for Piazza Navona? Yes, if I put those short legs of mine in the highest gear, it should be possible. I stumble through the cosy, narrow streets of the old centre with its many restaurants and trattorias. Unfortunately, I don’t have time for a delicious Italian Pranzo but, at that moment I already know for sure, one day I’ll be back!

Slightly overheated, I arrive at my destination. The Piazza Navona is a big and charming square.

Piazza Navona is located in one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Rome. This square used to be a big stadium for athletic games. After the fall of the Roman Empire the citizens built their houses on the stadium’s former stands. The athletics track itself remained so over the next centuries it became an enormous square. On this square there are no less than three beautiful fountains.

The Vatican and the Sistine Chapel

But now it is time to visit the Vatican. The Uber driver consciously, or unconsciously (let’s not judge that ) drops me off on the wrong side of the Vatican, for which I say “Grazie Mille”! Because of this error I am now able to admire the almost empty St. Peter’s square. It feels unreal to see this enormous square without people. It is big and impressive, even without the presence of Pope Francis!

St. Peter’s Square

The distance from St. Peter’s Square to the Musei Vaticani turns out to be a bit further than expected and by the time I get to the museum I am overheated again! (no, no, this has nothing to do with menopause ………) This museum is enormous and I will have to walk through all the rooms because the purpose of this trip, the “Sistine Chapel”, is at the end.  Believe me, this is not a punishment

Raffaello Sanzio

And there it happened ……. my first meeting with Raffaello Sanzio!  For the second time during this trip, it seems as if I got struck by lightning. The “Stanze di Raffaello” (translates the Rooms of Raffaello) in the Vatican are breathtaking and for a while I am speechless! Raffaello’s unique paintings cover all the walls and ceilings of these rooms. Raffaello Sanzio painted these beautiful scenes having been commissioned by Pope Julius II. What an indescribable talent. This surprising encounter was a bit of a shock because I suddenly realised that my love for Michelangelo isn’t very monogamous. Suddenly there is a second candidate, and I can already reveal that he is not the last one.  So I have decided to love them all, a kind of triangular relationship -😉


And there it is, straight after the Stanze di Raffaello, the “Sistine Chapel” !  I can’t explain how happy I am that I have undertaken this “last-minute” trip. The ceiling paintings by Michelangelo are magnificent and incredibly detailed. Michelangelo painted these frescoes in the period from 1508 to 1512. It is incomprehensible how he managed to complete this enormous assignment, my neck already hurts after 15 minutes of admiring the ceiling.

Sistine Chapel ceiling paintings by Michelangelo

One of his most famous paintings is “the creation of Adam”. You probably have seen this renowned fresco with two hands before.

“The creation of Adam” – Michelangelo

Another well-known work by Michelangelo is “The Last Judgement” which you see behind the altar. The Sistine Chapel is still used when a new Pope is chosen. This is the place where the Cardinals hold their Conclave while we are all waiting for the plume of white smoke.

“The Last Judgement” – Michelangelo

Penfriend Luca and Piazza Venezia

However, this is not yet the end of the journey. I am rushing back to the historic centre of Rome for a meeting.  I have a meeting on Piazza Venezia and I don’t want to miss it. Can I hear you think? A meeting? Yes ! a meeting with my pen pal Luca. Since mid-August Luca and I have been corresponding through Whats-app, a pen pal, old-school, in a modern system, whats-app  😃. We got in touch via Conversation Exchange and he helps me to learn the Italian language.

Piazza Venezia – Altare della Patria

All we have is a whats-app profile picture of each other and knowing he’s tall I recommend that he looks down 😊 and…. it works! Despite the fact we are both wearing these charming masks, we find each other quickly, or better said, he found me.It is a warm meeting and Luca makes the day complete. It turns out that he is a perfect guide and together we stroll along all the beautiful things his city has to offer.

 The Colosseum 


The Forum

The ancient Roman excavations in the heart of Rome.

Piazza del Campidoglio

We also visit the Piazza del Campidoglio. Luca knows about my passion for Michelangelo so seeing Campidoglio is a must because Michelangelo designed the square.

Love number three Caravaggio

It is also Luca who draws my attention to the works of art from Caravaggio and boom there is my number three! Coincidentally or not  I discover that Luca is also a big art history fan so from today on he can teach Italian and art history!

With a last glass of Aperol Spritz this fantastic day in Rome comes to an end and it is also the end of my stay in Italy. Tomorrow I will fly back to Portugal with lots of great memories, new friends and a certificate, A2 for Italian, in my pocket!




  • Nicki Makris 17/01/2021 at 11:58 am Reply

    Joke, your trip to Rome has really taken me away from the monotony of being in lockdown. It has whisked me back to Italy, and many memories, of happy days. Your photography is brilliant too. love Nickixx

    • johanna 17/01/2021 at 1:17 pm Reply

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I know most people might have seen Rome but I hoped to bring back memories and I am glad to hear that it worked for you ! Lots of love from a Portugal in Lockdown. XXX

  • Lesley Kelly 18/01/2021 at 1:41 pm Reply

    You’ve been struck by lightning caused by a force other than artwork?! Did I read that right?
    You are braver than I for travelling at this time but many thanks for a few minutes of feeling we were in beautiful Rome again. Stay safe.

    • johanna 18/01/2021 at 8:52 pm Reply

      Hi Lesley, my trip to Rome was in October. Wouldn’t have the courage to the travel now. Hope you are both keeping well !

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