Rome

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.

I'm sure they didn't have to make the Senate door this big. But it's awesome that way - and that's just the way the Romans roll.

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.

Beautiful mosaic art from inside St. Peter's (I think).

Inside the Col0sseum. The underground area where they held gladiators and caged animals now stands exposed.

A nun at St. Peter's.

The floor of the Col0sseum as it once might have appeared.

The Pieta. So beautiful.

Taken from the dome of St. Peter's. We didn't see the Pope, but we got to watch a live feed of him broadcast in the square below from Spain.

Taken during one of our night walks in Rome. I don't remember the location, but I love the perspective.

I believe that's the Arch of Constantine in the foreground. The Col0sseum stands in the background, still an imposing structure. (EDIT: actually, I think that's the Arch of Titus.)

Ben played with the coloring to make the green stand out. I love this shot of the Col0sseum.

Sometimes you just have to take a picture.

The Swiss Guard at the Vatican. Don't be fooled by the froofy pantaloons. These guys are legit Swiss Army Special Forces. They could kill you by looking at you the wrong way.

Throughout the trip, we were constantly amazed at how much the ancient Romans had in common with us. I made Ben take this picture. Can you tell what they are? You might have one in your Monopoly set.

The Trevi Fountain. If you throw in a coin, you're sure to return. Well, it worked the last time...

To save money, we bought a lot of bread, cheese, and salami from tiny grocery stores. Here I'm holding "Flamer" brand cheese.

One of Ben's gorgeous night shots of the Col0sseum. While he took this, I was trying to fend off merchants selling scarves and junk by pretending to be asleep, sitting on a wall. It didn't keep them away, but I think they gave up more easily.

Hey, there's an ancient arena behind us!

The ancient city at night. Unbelievably beautiful.

The Circus Maximus, site of chariot racing, and the site of the beginning of the great fire of 67 AD. The fire broke out in a food vendor's stall. Kind of like if a hot dog place caught fire at the Rose Garden, and then subsequently burned down all of Portland.

Main area of the Forum from the Palatine Hill.

The Arch of Titus at sunset. Deceptively peaceful today, considering its history.

As we were passing by these statues at the edge of the Forum, a tiny British girl with a camera passed by and said (in a strong accent) "Oh FINALLY, one with a head!" It was too cute.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Rome

  1. I like Rome too! What a coincidence!

  2. Mik

    Not to condone mass murder and enslavement (because I don’t), but the Jews in the Jewish revolt had it coming. In that they knew what the consequences of their actions would be before they did them. One could see it as a lesson against hubris and irrationality, really.

    • I can see where you’re coming from, but I don’t really see their actions as an example of hubris. They couldn’t worship Caesar; it was in direct conflict with their beliefs. So they rebelled. Can’t blame them for that.

      • Mik

        Well….I can understand your point, but the problem is that the Jews didn’t rebel because of that reason. The war began because of tension between Jewish and Greek populations and a growing trend of apocalypticism in Jewish religious belief, the latter of which caused them to start the war and (mistakenly) think they could win it. Which is a pretty big miscalculation, I think, and an argument for rational expectations.

        I’m not sure where you got your explanation, but it is not factually accurate; no emperor ever tried to make the Jews worship him, because it was far more effective simply to tax the Jews and leave them alone.

      • A growing trend of apocalypticism – meaning, the belief that Jesus had come to deliver them from the Romans? I’m a little rusty on the whole timeline of this era, but I’m guessing that’s what you’re referring to. If so, I think it’s less about rationalism and more about big picture thinking. They were looking a little too nearsightedly at their current situation, when Jesus never promised deliverance from that specifically. His plans for humanity were bigger (I understand that this is where our beliefs diverge quite a bit, but you already knew that). So yes, their rebellion was a tactical error of massive proportions – but I understand why they did it.

        Anyway, I consulted a history major friend of mine, and he clarified that it was more the fact that the Romans required the Jews to worship their gods in addition to their own – not a requirement that the Jews worship Caesar. Which makes sense, since they were decidedly monotheistic, and understandably had a problem with adding a whole pantheon of gods to their belief set.

        Again, this is all based on my fairly limited knowledge of the era. Roman history is all pretty new to me.

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