Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Touring a city like Rome without a guide

 If you really want to tour some place in Europe and do it right, you should get a guide. So many people have told us that. But we did not follow their advice. It's OK with us if we "didn't do it right", we just wanted to do it ourselves and it's so amazing that Google maps makes it possible to do so. 

There was one place - the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel - where you couldn't get in without a guide. So Jim used his trusty website - - to book a guided tour, 2 days away. 
A hastily snapped picture looking up at the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo

Think about it, if you traveled to Rome 25 years ago, you'd have to do it without the Internet. I guess you'd use a paper map. It might be possible, but figuring out where you are is next to impossible when there are no dependable street signs. And, believe me, there are no dependable street signs anywhere in Italy!
With Google Maps, we could just ask for walking directions to the Colosseum from wherever we were and it would tell us where to go. We can even use the feature called Live View to see the real world around us and follow big blue arrows. The background is seen live thru your camera, then Google Maps uses Augmented Reality (AR) to superimpose the big blue arrows and instructions. It was very helpful. To see how it's done - here's my video:

And, did we ever walk. For the 4 days we were in Rome, my Apple Watch recorded 8,500 16,000 13,500 and 16,300 steps. Whew! At home we're lucky to get 3,000 in a day. We didn't go out at night though - too bad, I'm sure the sights with the lights on at night are really beautiful. But, we've gotten used to early bed times and we are quite exhausted by then.

I was so happy with the technique I worked out with Google Maps that we did one of our "What Does This Button Do?" shows on it. See Episode 234:

I know we would have learned a lot more about the places we visited if we had a guide, but I'm just so happy that we got to see these places at all. Then, later, we can watch YouTube videos about the place and learn more. Having been there gives us the foundation. For example we visited the Pantheon - and it was impressive. Huge columns - Greek Temple-like - in a very rectangular formation is the front of the very round - Roman - building that houses statues and artwork representing all the religions of the time. Pan = all  Theon = religion. Loved it. Then, once we're back in our room with computer and internet, we can watch this video: and learn so much more. You can watch the video too - but if you haven't experienced it, it's just not the same. 

Here's Jim's 360 panorama of the Pantheon - you need to click on it to see it right, then you can scroll around to see the full 360 degrees.

I liked Rome a lot. I had always thought of it as just a BIG city - and I'm not a fan of big cities. But, I also love history and, I can't imagine a city with more history than this one. And it's the history of the western world - our history. Before we left, one of our Geeks on Tour members recommended the book "Oil and Marble." If you're going to Rome, you gotta read Oil and Marble. I immediately purchased the Kindle version so I could read it on my phone any chance I got - great train ride reading! I put it at one of the top 10 books of my life. I LOVED it. And, it gave me a foundation for looking at the art. It's about Leonardo Da Vinci (Oil) and Michelangelo (Marble.) I've heard of them! This book, although using accurate historical references was written as a novel - there were conversations between Leonardo and Michelangelo. You learn about Michelangelo's father's attempt to prevent him from being a sculptor - he wanted Michelangelo to get a respectable government job! Did you know that Michelangelo did not paint the Sistine chapel while lying on his back? That's what I had always understood, but think about it, that's a big ceiling - how would he get into position? By wriggling like a snake? No, the scaffolding was at a height that allowed him to stand and he painted by raising his hand. 

1 comment:

JoammeG said...

You might also enjoy The Agony and the Ecstasy which is a novel of Michelangelo. I read it on my first trip to Italy and loved it. I just got Oil and Marble out of the library.