We landed in the Italian capital quite early in the morning and caught a shuttle bus into the center right near the main train station. As we didn't have anything booked we dropped our large rucksacks at the bag deposit and went searching. We got lucky and found something almost right away and decided to spend the rest of the day orientating ourselves and wandering the streets of Rome.
The first site we stumbled upon almost knocked us off our feet, the Victory Monument of Victor Emmanuel, it wasn’t as old as I would have hoped (construction started in 1885) but it was HUGE!! Rome is so filled with massive monuments, statues and buildings, all breathtaking, impressive and intimidating. We headed back after making a brief tour around the Colosseum with plans on spending the next day sightseeing.
We woke up fairly early with plans to see the Trevi fountain over croissants and cappuccinos, hoping by getting an early start that we would miss the big tour-groups arriving later in the day. It seemed that a lot of other people had the same idea, as every minute we were there more and more people filed into the
outside the Colosseum
small square and down the steps to toss their coin in the fountain as a promise to come back to Rome. The fountain was again a knock-your-shoes-off site; the grand scale of the entire thing was incredible.
After this we decided to check out the Pantheon; it’s an amazing building commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all of the gods of Ancient Rome. It was rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in 126 AD, and then in 609 was given to Pope Boniface IV who converted it into a Christian church. During the Renaissance it was used as a tomb (it now houses Raphael’s tomb), and then in the mid-1600’s it was stripped for its bronze by the Catholic Church. The Pantheon is still used today as a church and we arrived during one of the daily masses so we had to wait an hour before entering. We wandered the nearby streets exploring the amazing city and eventually stumbling upon Piazza Navona. There were three statues in the square, the main one being the Fountain of Four Rivers, a large creation by Bernini with four men, each depicting one of the four major known rivers of the time.
Triton checking out the crowd.
Then it was back to the Pantheon to join the hordes of tourists entering to check out the amazing circular building.
We spent much of the day just wandering the streets, stumbling upon different ruins, statues, fountains and churches, and in the afternoon went to check out to well known Roman Colosseum. The line to get in made us second guess our decision to actually go inside, but we stuck it out and were rewarded. The inside was amazing, Tourists weren’t allowed into the staging area underneath, the floors covering the area were long gone though, and offered a beautiful view into the labyrinth below.
After a day of wandering Rome, my feet having had their butts kicked thoroughly, we headed back to our hostel and headed to bed early.
Our last day in Rome we paid a visit to the Vatican. St. Peters square was packed with tourists snapping shots of the famous center of the Catholic world. We managed to avoid waiting in the more than an hour long line up and passed through the security check before entering St. Peters Basilica. Our jaws dropped!! The inside of the basilica was beyond
massive. We spent the better part of an hour walking around the inside of the building, looking at all the massive statues hanging above, taking in the many paintings and just being generally amazed at the sights. One thing the basilica really impressed upon me was the incredible wealth of the Catholic Church and the Vatican City. Not wanting to increase the wealth of the teeny country while decreasing ours, we decided to pass up paying to see the Sistine chapel (Blasphemy!! We regret it now) and only went through the catacombs made available to the public. We also posted some cards home from the Vatican to my grandma and Scott's sister, just for the fun of it!
Another day done. We're heading to Naples on a 10am train to visit Pompeii and indulge ourselves in the best pizza in the world!!
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