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Part 2: Tuscany
  • Writer's picturesbcrosby .

Roma - la città eterna!

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

We said goodbye to the beautiful Amalfi coast and headed to Rome on Friday morning. Our friends Jo Ellen, Bryan, and Karen flew in to meet us.

Two days in Rome is simply not enough. Luckily, we have been here before, but our fellow travelers have not. We packed so much into two days, and our feet are feeling it!

Our day started with our private guide, Patricia. Mark and I met her on our trip to Rome 10 years ago, and we lucked out that she is still conducting tours. (If you are ever headed to Rome, a private tour by Patricia of the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum, or the Forum cannot be missed).

I can’t possibly capture all that we experienced over these two days, otherwise, my blog would be pages long. Instead, I will simply touch on a few highlights.

We began our tour at the Arch of Constantine, the triumphal arch built in 315 A.D., and then proceeded into the Colosseum. This magnificent structure, the largest ancient amphitheater ever built, was completed in 80 A.D. and only took eight years to build! It held an average audience of 60,000 people in its time, and it was used for gladiator contests, public spectacles, animal hunts, executions, and re-enactments of famous battles.

Due to time constraints and crowds, we walked quickly through the Forum, stopping only for a few points of interest, and headed to St. Peter’s Basilica.

St. Peter’s is the largest church in the world, built in the early 1600s, and is home to Michelangelo’s Pieta, one of his earliest sculptures of Mary holding a crucified Jesus. This is the only sculpture Michelangelo ever signed.

The basilica is 150 feet high, yet through its design and the style of painting and sculpture, you never feel small walking through it. You will notice paintings throughout the building, but these aren’t actually paintings. Every single piece of hanging artwork is a mosaic. It’s incredible to notice the level of intricacy and detail in these works of art.

The Vatican Museum was next and began with the breathtaking Sistine Chapel. The Pope requested that Michelangelo paint the ceiling (something he didn’t want to do), and it took him four years to complete, including the wall of the Last Judgement. If you look at the earlier sections of the ceiling, the figures are much smaller. When he realized the proportions were way too small to see the details from the ground, he changed his approach and made the figures and scenes much larger. There are no words to describe its beauty and photos aren’t allowed, so I can’t even convey it in pictures. Therefore, you must go and see it for yourself!

Another highlight of the museum is the Gallery of Tapestries. The detail and colors of these 500-year-old Belgium textiles are unbelievable. One in particular stands out. Jesus is emerging from the tomb, and his eyes seem to follow you as you pass from one side to the next. This is a flat, woven textile! Remarkable.

We finished our evening with dinner at a Ristorante in Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, where an Italian bachelor party was in full and rare form – think drunk Italian men singing songs. Fantastico!

Our friend Kim flew in early on day two of our visit, which kicked off with an audio tour of the Pantheon, built in 125 A.D. and one of the best-preserved ancient Roman buildings in the world. It’s been in continuous use throughout the centuries, first as a Roman temple and then as a Catholic Church. There is a perfect, open hole in the center of the unreinforced concrete dome (the largest of its kind in the world). Almost 2,000 years after it was built, it’s wholly intact and still houses religious services and ceremonies. This is perhaps our favorite building in Rome.

After strolling the streets, visiting a few shops, and having a wonderful lunch, we made our way back to our hotel to meet up with Moira, our tour guide for the afternoon…via a golf cart! What a way to see this expansive city – best decision ever!

We zipped through Ancient Rome and hit all the highlights, including five of the seven major “hills” of Rome, several piazzas, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and so much more.

A few standouts include Capitoline Hill, with a square designed by Michelangelo and the most stunning view of the Forum down below. Truly breathtaking.

We also took a trip around Circus Maximus, the ancient chariot raceway that held upwards of 250,000 spectators. This photo doesn't begin to illustrate its massive size.

We visited Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses in the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, something we’ve never seen before.

We also witnessed at least five weddings taking place throughout the city. Not only are we having a gelato a day, we seem to be witnessing a wedding a day!

We ended our two days in this magical city with a fantastic meal at Costanza Hostaria. I can’t begin to capture the mood of this evening, but the entire room where we sat evoked a sense of happiness and love of life. At one point, we were all singing Italian songs together! Italians truly know how to live.

We begin part two of our trip tomorrow, as we meet up with even more of our friends and head to Tuscany. Caio!


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