Friday I was off again, this time to Rome. I had been hoping to get a weekend in the capital before it got too hot, and the second lot of X Factor auditions gave me the perfect excuse to go!
This time both the journey down to Rome and back to Milan were with Italo, it was the first time I'd done a return trip to Rome with them. My train to Rome left Porta Garibaldi station bright and early at 7.34, but a fire at Napoli Centrale station seemed to cause some problems as we were stuck outside Bologna, and at Florence for a while. Amazingly we got to Rome only a couple of minutes late!
Before I could start my touristing, I had to deal with left luggage at Termini as check-in at my hotel wasn't for another three hours. If Dante were alive today it would be a circle of hell in Inferno. Not only for the sweltering heat, but also for the endless wait both depositing and collecting luggage.
My first stop was what it always seems to be - the Spanish Steps. I walked up them to Villa Borghese, and on the way into the park there's a fantastic view overlooking the city!
I was so disappointed to see the Trevi Fountain all dry and covered in scaffolding! I had no idea! The piazza was still full of tourists and I could feel the disappointment in the air. I didn't hang around, and headed over to the Pantheon. It's one of my favourite sights in Rome, even though I wish some people were more respectful... The heat was starting to get to me, so after a walk around Piazza Navona I went to hunt down a gelateria which had spectacular views on Tripadvisor - the Frigidarium. The gelato is amazing. Up there with the absolute best I've ever had anywhere!
Saturday was a very long and intense day, it was the reason I'd made the trip. The X Factor auditions were going on all weekend, but I only went on Saturday as I couldn't hack two very late nights and two early mornings in a row! The morning I was up early to go to the Roman Radio Deejay studios to visit the wonderful Laura Antonini and Rudy Zerbi. It's always a pleasure to see them, and they're always so lovely! They invited me back on Sunday morning too - where I ended up giving English pronunciation lessons live on national radio!
The reason why I wanted to go to the auditions is because I'm a Mika fan, I saw the Milanese auditions last year, and one day of the auditions in Bologna earlier this month. The auditions in Rome were being held at the Palalottomatica, and the doors were meant to open at 3.45... It was around 5 when we finally got let in, after protests and football-style chants, and by then I was slightly sunburnt and very tired. Of course there was no explanation given for the delay! We were told several times during the evening not to tweet anything or post anything on Facebook or anywhere else, so I guess I still can't say anything... But it was an enjoyable experience, I had a friend from Milan keeping me company, and we saw some interesting characters... Like in Bologna the auditions went on late, and it was 2.15 by the time I got back to my hotel!
After another early start on Sunday and a grand total of four and a half hours' sleep I met up with Claire from Run Brit Chick Run for lunch at C1b0 near the Conca d'Oro metro stop. We had some delicious pork ribs, and dessert for me was a gorgeous chocolate cheesecake, whilst Claire had a brownie. We then went to walk it off at the market and park at Eur - the lake was so inviting in the heat! I also met her lovely daughter who got lots of cuddles!
I only had the Monday morning left before I had to catch my train, so I didn't want to wander too far. I'd decided to go to the Colusseum, and I saw the aftermath of the Rolling Stones concert at Circo Massimo that the whole city had been talking about! Unfortunately the Colusseum is still covered in scaffolding too - more restoration works!
Italo's only just started stopping at Termini station, and it's only a few trains every day. My train back was from the very new and very fancy Tiburtina station - it reminds me more of an airport than a train station! In around three hours and 20 minutes I was back in Milan, with another piecew of my heart left back in Rome.