When I was in 7th grade, our English class did a whole unit on Roman and Greek mythology. It was my first introduction to myths and as a bookworm, I loved discovering a new type of story. And to be honest, I also loved reading all about the different gods/goddess personalities and all the drama up on Mt. Olympus. As part of that unit, we learned about the city of Rome and I remember being fascinated by pictures of the Colosseum and gladiator stories.
So when we headed to Rome from Tiers, I was pretty excited to soak it all in. If you had told my middle school self that I would one day visit the Colosseum, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Oh, and my adult self was pretty excited for all the food. 🙂 But I’ll save that for later.
We spent 4 days in Rome and stayed in an AirBnb near Vatican City so we could beat the crowds and walk to the city. Looking back, this ended up being one of our more “touristy” stops as Rome had a huge number of tourist spots in a condensed area.
Here are some highlights of what we did:
Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City
Wow. Just wow. I thought Vatican City would be pretty neat but I wasn’t actually prepared for all the beautiful, historical things we would see.
We kicked off our Vatican exploration with the Vatican museum, which has one of the world’s largest private collections of art.
Everything was so impressive. From the architecture, to the murals, to the Egyptian art collection and mummies, to the decorative floor mosaics and woven tapestries…just to name a few things. Oh and the ENTIRE HALLWAY OF BUSTS AND SCULPTUREs OF ROMAN FIGURES- INCLUDING GODS AND GODDESSES!
I haven’t even mentioned the Sistine Chapel yet. It was incredibly humbling to stand in the Sistine Chapel and take in the frescoes. It’s truly remarkable what humans are capable of doing. If you haven’t seen the Sistine Chapel, I’d recommend googling it and realizing this was all done in the early 1500’s. Unfortunately, photos were not allowed inside, so- you have to go to see it yourself. 🙂
Seeing the art and architecture inside the Vatican was kind of a surreal moment to me. I remembered seeing photos of Raphael’s “The School of Athens,” Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” but to see it with my own eyes? Wow. The only drawback to this experience was the large mobs of tourists.
We also visited St. Peter’s Basilica and upon entering we were lucky to have caught a choir singing. Hearing those voices echo throughout the cavernous basilica couple with the impressive site itself, sent chills up my spine. We arrived at St. Peter’s by 7:30, which is right when they open, so we were some of the first people inside.
Throughout our stay in Rome, we walked through the square many times. It was a beautiful site to soak in, especially at night.
Roaming the “THEs”: The Colosseum, The Pantheon, The Roman Forum and More
Of course, you can’t go to Rome and not see the Colosseum, Pantheon and Roman Forum. Below are some photos along with quick bits on our more touristy stops.
Colosseum: again, another surreal moment to be standing outside and then inside the Colosseum. We woke up early that morning to make sure we beat the crowds, which worked out pretty well. Hard to believe that an estimated 1 million people died in the Colosseum.
Roman Forum & The Pantheon: Our Colosseum tickets included entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf), which was an extra treat. We aimlessly wandered through both and enjoyed the nice views and weather. I have may have whispered, “Et tu, Brute?” under my breath while walking through the Roman Forum. The Pantheon was free, which we went into (along with a beaucoup of tourists)
Last (but not least), we fought through the crowds at the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps.
Body & Soul
We definitely enjoyed some delicious pizza and pasta on this stop- although for me the real highlight was all the gelato. Matt initially wasn’t on the gelato train, but after our first visit we were hooked. So we ended up getting gelato once a day. 🙂
To combat all some of our carbo-loading, we not only walked a ton but also went for a run to Villa Borghese. There, we explored the gardens at a faster clip and took high-up views of the city.
On a more somber note, Matt and I have started reflecting that our trip is really coming to a close. We only have 10 days in Croatia and 8 days in France and then it’s back to the states. While we are excited about returning to U.S. to see friends and family, not live out of a backpack and get back to Seattle (the city we love); we are incredibly sad that this experience is nearing the end.