St. Peter’s Basilica Vatican city

St. Peter's Basilica is the world's largest church. Likely the most famous. The church most people think of when they see the Pope. A work of art by any definition.  In spite of all this it isn't even the cathedral of Rome.  Papal Archbasilica of St. John in Lateran being the oldest papal basilica is also the most important.

Saint Peter's Basilica

Visiting the square is fairly simple. You cross an imaginary line and leave Italy to enter the Vatican state. Early in the morning the security line to enter the basilica are fairly short.  Your bag will be subjected to a xray screening. The usual security guidelines apply . Don't bring a large backpack or worse a suitcase. By mid morning the security line will stretch to fill large parts of the square. Not only will you face a lengthy wait to enter but when you do enter you'll face greater crowds potentially limiting your enjoyment of the basilica

In addition to the usual security rules (no knives ) you'll face the normal dress code. The rules basically mean no bare knees or shoulders. Men must have bare heads. Expect the rules to be enforced even if they aren't always. It makes no sense to stand in line to only find out you fail the dress code. Please turn off your phone or least silence it.

 

In addition to the basilica you can climb the dome.

Entrance to the basilica is free but the dome climb has a cost. The cost depends on which option you pick. You can choose to walk all the way up paying a little less. Or take an elevator for part of the way for a higher cost. Neither climb is extremely difficult but don't underestimate the climb. It will take some effort. You'll see the interior of the dome unfortunately there is a mesh grill that you will have to look through. Once you've reached the top there is a circular viewing platform giving you views including not just the square but the gardens. 

There are two other sites in the area of St. Peter's. The Vatican museums and Castel Sant'Angelo.

For the museum you really should prebook your tickets. Lines can be extremely long. 

 

For Castel Sant'Angelo the lines are rarely a problem.

 

The fountains of Rome

While Venice is obviously a city of water Rome with it's fountains is no less a city of water. Rome was built on it's water system. Aqueducts that brought water to the city. Fountains that distributed it. The basic water system is over two thousand years old. 

Many of the fountains have achieved worldwide fame. The Trevi fountain has even starred in mainstream movies. But Rome is so rich in fountains that fountains like the Fontana dell'Acqua Paola that inspired the Trevi fountain is rarely visited or even on the radar of many tourists.

 

 

 

Inspiration for the Trevi fountain

In front of the Spanish steps you'll find the Fontana della Barcaccia

Spanish steps

But the most famous and almost always crowded site is the Trevi fountain. The fountain has starred in films both Italian and from Hollywood. Anita Ekberg waded into the fountain in the film La Dolce Vita a scene that has inspired many tourists to copy her. Don't let the moment sweep you away. Wading into the fountain will at least get you a fine .

Piazza Navona has three fountains. In any other city the smallest of these fountains would attract a horde of tourists but Rome has such a wealth of fountains even the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi struggles to attract the interests of tourists bewitched by the Trevi fountain and it's Hollywood starlet fame.

Piazza Navona

Almost lost in the traffic is the Piazza Barberini with it's Fontana del Tritone.

The fountains mentioned above may seem like a lengthy list but they represent but a small part of the fountains that Rome possesses. The more famous and popular with tourists certainly but still a fairly small part of the total

Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

The Roman forum site is one of the worlds most famous archaeological sites. 

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Changing of the honor guard Altare della Patria Rome Italy

Changing of the honor guard for the unknown solider in Rome. The tomb known has the Altare della Patria is part of Il Monumento nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II. The monument is located on Piazza Venezia in the heart of historic Rome. 

Il Monumento nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II

Monk parrot of Fuerteventura

On the island of Fuerteventura in the town of Morro Jable there are now colonies of Monk Parrots. The birds have been fed by humans for so long that they no longer fear humans and will approach to be fed.  While you walk along the beach promenade the birds can be heard in the palm trees above you. You'll see the birds nesting in the palm trees. An obvious problem is the green colour of the birds blends with the green foliage of the trees. Use your ears to localize the sounds and then allow your eyes time to adjust. The birds can also be seen  flying in groups to and from the trees. When you reach the whale skeleton the birds can often be found in the adjacent play area being fed by tourists. 

The number of birds is fairly high and should really be called a flock. The birds you see in the video are only a small portion of those that fly around the area.

The birds are well fed by the tourists. Likely why the number of birds is so high in spite the lack of natural food sources in the area. The desert like conditions contrast with the native habitat of the birds in South America.  The local shops seem to do a good business in treats for the various animals in the area. Seeds and peanuts for the birds. Apples for the donkeys. Nuts for the squirrels. All of this in spite of the fact that feeding the animals is frowned upon. You will see signs warning tourist not to feed the animals. Quite often you'll find tourists standing next to the signs feeding the animals. 

 

 

A day in Playa Matorral Morro Jable Fuerteventura Spain

A day on Playa Matorral Morro Jable Fuerteventura.

Starting at sunrise and progressing to mid afternoon. Sand,ocean,sun,watersports and beach walkers.

 

 

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Majorera donkeys of Fuerteventura,Spain. An endangered breed

Majorera donkey in Fuerteventura spain
Majorera donkey wandering Morro Jable

The Majorera donkey is an endangered breed of donkey. Originally from Africa They were first brought to the Canary islands five hundred years ago. Used for the usual domestic jobs by the islanders for centuries the modern world has left them behind. The current number has dropped to extremely low numbers . They can be seen wandering the nature reserve in Morro Jable,Fuerteventura.