Sam Bowker: The Grand Tour Diary (2005 - 2006)

This is the archived journal of a 2005-2006 'Grand Tour' around the Eastern Mediterranean and along East Africa, written by Sam Bowker, whilst in search of his PhD topic.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Italy - Leaving Rome

Dedicated to Solo Travel

The sun is setting in Rome, the ruins are orange, and it's getting cold outside.

I've checked out of my second hostel, the Alessandro Palace, and partook in as many free cups of coffee as any respectable backpacker would. Last night, my new mates (as all my mates have been lately), celebrated our recent arrivals and imminent departures from Italy at a Chinese restaurant. As you do in Italy. In fact, it was the first Chinese food I've eaten in months, and likely to be the last for some time as well.

This morning was spent exploring the gargantuan Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a "national altar-piece" on the scale of New Parliament House in white marble. Laden with statues and freises harkening to the re-invented glories of Imperial Roman temples, it looks like a totalitarian version of our War Memorial in Canberra. It's very clearly designed to inspire awe from the outside - the layout of the interior museums seem like a secondary consideration.

The afternoon was dedicated to the small complex of the Capitolini Museums, just behind the massive tomb monument. The two palaces I saw primarily consisting of sculpture collections, with several very famous and impressive works amongst them. Excellent rooms of Roman portrait busts and interesting provenance histories, mostly summarisable as "Discovered in a drain, snatched by the Vatican, later proved to be too embarrassing for the Vatican to hang on to, ended up here in this secular Museum".

There were also a couple of diversions through Santa Maria Maggiore and an unexpected exhibition of Manet's prints and sketches.

But now, tis time to leave Europe. I have loved this experience of solo independent travel. I am absolutely keen on continuing these types of trips, and have been formulating plans for future travels. I am heading back to Cairo tonight, via Athens, and should arrive there around 2am their time. Once there, I shall be staying with my much-loved parents, and working out my movements for the next couple of months abroad.

They will feature Egypt and Libya in a big way, but might just include other parts of Africa.

Here begins my Flight into Egypt.


  • At Friday, December 02, 2005 5:51:00 am, Anonymous Preeti said…

    Sam, as per my promise I checked out your blogs a day after we met (on Nov. 21 near the Palace St. Angelo, I think).
    Your blogs are chock full of information and it's nice that your friends and family can share your amazing experiences.
    When I met you, I was mourning the fact that I missed out on seeing the Sistine Chapel because the last tour had closed 10 minutes before I got there...your vivid description brought the chapel to life and made me feel better:).
    Well, I just returned home to Atlanta after a cold but interesting week in London and I'm already missing Rome...can't wait to explore the rest of Italy! Have fun on your travels...I'll check back from time to time to see how you're doing and when I'm ready to visit Australia again, I'll be sure to get lots of tips from you.
    Take care-Preeti


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