Florence is a third the size of Rome. You need so much more time here, but two days gives you a taster and you achieve more in January than you would in the Spring, Summer or Autumn. It is incredibly inspiring. You walk along a street and at the end of it there will be an ornate fountain, or statue, or beautiful church, gallery, museum and that's only in the first hour. The traffic of course is so bad it's comical, unless of course you get hit by one. It is like one of those cartoons where everyone just misses each other but only just.
You can't do Rome in two weeks let alone two days, but don't try. You will spoil it if you do. Ask the concierge for what you want. We wanted an unusual church and at the museum and crypt of the Capuchin Friars you get it. The 17th century church has the bones of over 4000 friars which 'decorate' chapels in lamps, sculptures and mosaic like displays of flowers, geometric shapes and various religious symbols. You have to go see to get the full picture but it is an extraordinary place to visit. I'm not saying you should go see instead of Pompeii, the Vatican, the Trevi, but if you can go see.
Second day poured down with rain as hard as the fountains which are found at the end of each Roman road, street, avenue, lane, or so it seems. The Pantheon a haven and quiet because of the heavy rains. It's circular so you tend to go round and round, looking up at the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. Then the Piazza navona, and Vittoiano Monument and then the Sistine at the Vatican. I forgot how before his time he was - and ours for that matter. The contemporary art gallery before you reach the Cistine has Henry Moore and Dali as well as Francis Bacon doing a very unflattering portrait of a Pope, but then he did unflattering portraits of everyone didn't he? Some artists only see beauty where others see ugliness. Come to think of it, not just artists think that way.
We ate at La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali (www.latavernadeiforliiperiali) and La Taverna Trilussa (www.tavernatrilussa.it) You need to book both. Both worth it. Pasta perfect. Artichokes good in season, isn't everything? You won't touch the muck at home after this place. You will also be the size of a house by now.
Last stop The Colosseum - which it was for a lot of others. Kept thinking of Russell Crowe (nearly wrote Brand, then Grant...wouldn't have been the same) doing his 'husband to a murdered wife..." speech. Twenty five million euros from the 'community' (as in European) our guide told us and the most magnificent roundabout in the world will be finished in ten years time. Although it's not a roundabout now, which it what when I visited thirty eight years ago (ouch). It's stunning and would be pocket money to the wealthiest in the world. Mind you, they would probably turn it into a gladiator ring again wouldn't they?
Forget eat, pray, love. Venice, Florence and Rome takes you on a much more intense journey if you let it.
This wonderful trip was care of Citalia (08437704443 www.citalia.com) who organise trips like this for just over a grand which includes bed and breakfast in all the hotels which are characterful as well as central, train fares, transfers and flights.