Yes, I’m finally blogging about the second city we visited on our trip. At this rate, I’ll be finished sometime next year.
This time, Rome was my favorite.
All I really remember from my first visit to Rome was the Col0sseum, having really bad allergies, gelato, and people eating McDonald’s french fries on the steps of the Pantheon, the most well preserved monument of ancient Rome. I was mildly horrified by the juxtaposition. I was also mildly horrified by the fact that I kind of wanted some fries.
Anyway, this time was far different. Rather than try to tell you what we did from beginning to end (because I don’t remember), I’ll just touch on highlights. With lots of pictures.
First of all, if you ever plan on going to Rome (and that should be all of you), take good shoes. Girls, you will be inspired by all the locals walking around in spindly sandals and flowy dresses. You’ll want to buy some sandals. Don’t.
Because locals are a) used to walking around in those paper thin sandals, and b) won’t be trying to scour all of ancient Rome in 3 days like you probably will be.
Sacrifice some fashion. I didn’t – I had Privos that were cute, but good walking shoes (or so I thought). I soon realized that they were not prepared to handle the pedestrian devastation that is Rome. We estimated that we walked about 10+ miles every day we were there. My feet were stabbing me halfway through every day.
So I guess the moral here is don’t expect a relaxing, restful time. But expect it to be completely fascinating and awe-inspiring.
So, what did we see? Time for some pictures!
The first time I came to Rome, I managed to miss seeing the Forum, the ancient epicenter of the city. This time we made certain not to miss it.
We took the Rick Steve’s guidebook with us, and yes, we were the tourists walking around with it open, reading aloud from it. I know we looked and sounded dorky, but I don’t regret it at all. The descriptions helped us to fill in the visual blanks; the columns in front of us became temples and whole buildings before our eyes.
We saw the place where Julius Caesar’s body was burned, and we walked into the Senate building (and discovered Bryan Hoerr’s doppelganger). We later explored the Palatine Hill, where all the crazy emperors built their palaces one after the other. We could’ve spent an entire extra day in Rome just exploring that one area.
I think the most fascinating thing about ancient Rome was that you could still feel how powerful it was, even standing amongst the ruins. Ben and I had philosophical conversations about the rise and fall of empires, and why it happens.
Titus’s arch is a great example of the arrogance of ancient Rome. They forced Jewish slaves to build it, and then had them carve a depiction of their own defeat on the outside of it.
And there’s a part of me that wonders if that was the point where God finally said enough! But that’s an entirely different discussion altogether.
Suffice to say, I was at once awed, terrified, mortified, and fascinated by ancient Rome.
By contrast, modern Rome delighted me. I wrote before about how wonderful the summer nightlife was. Ben and I took a few nightwalks, and discovered piazzas full of families, friends, and performers. It felt safe, joyful, not like nightlife here. Children stay out there far past where we would make them go to bed here, and as a result, the atmosphere is so different. Friends and families line sidewalk cafes, eating dinner at 9, 10 o’clock. I loved it.
St. Peter’s and the Vatican were beautiful and overwhelming. I made it up the dome despite my claustrophobia, and we enjoyed the dizzying view of Rome from the top.
The artwork was incredible. Ben and I again opened our guidebook and read about the things we were seeing – too much to take in. I think The Pieta is still my favorite. It’s a very simple and beautiful idea.
I could write about Rome all day, but enough of me talking. Bring on more pictures! Note: I didn’t upload them in any particular order, so I apologize for that, but I didn’t want to try and shift them around for fear I’d mess up all my formatting.
Photo credits: all the AMAZING Ben! This is just a sampling of his many awesome pics.