Our train to Rome left at 7:31am Saturday from Orvieto scalo ( base of the hill) and we arrived in Rome around 9am where we met Marco, our Italian history professor and omniscient tour guide. We emerged from the subway in front of the Coliseum and emperor Constantine’s Triumphal Arch. It took a while to believe I was really there, touching the Doric columns that have been seen and felt by so many generations before me.
Fortunately, we visited Rome early in the season, so the sights were not inundated with other tourists.
After spending some time here revisiting history, we moved on to the Roman Forum, Victor Emmanuel II Memorial (aka the “Wedding Cake”), and up Michael Angelo’s famous steps. They lead up to the Piazza Campadoglio where a statue of Marcus Aurelius on horse confronts you in the center. Off to the left is a peaceful garden that overlooks the Forum.
We walked with Marco through the Jewish Ghetto to the famous Turtle Fountain:
Nearby is Argentine Square, which is essentially a sunken excavation site, but also serves as a home to the largest concentration of cats in Rome. The community feeds the cats twice a day and vets tend to their health. Pretty good life for a cat.
On to the big one: The Pantheon!
Yes, it is incredible!
This is where we left Marco and explored Rome on our own…
We ate near the Pantheon and ended up getting two free bottles Frangolina (claimed to be “sexy wine”) thanks to Alex putting his Rick Steve’s guide on the table. It tasted like strawberry soda.
Note: Rome is such a tourist destination, that most people speak some amount of English, yet they appreciate you doing your best with Italian. (It can be hard not to act like a tourist…)
Nearly every corner holds a treasure of history, juxtaposed with contemporary life and buildings. It really is something quite extraordinary. There is so much in fact, that it is hard to take it in. It took sitting down to sketch and people watch to start making sense of it. If you don’t take the time, then you end up with little more than 800 JPEGS on your camera and no new understanding.
Ok, after our lengthy lunch/dinner, 7 of us set out to find Trevi’s fountain. It is a sunken space filled with the sound of rushing water, cameras, and people enjoying each other.
Katie wanted to see the Spanish steps, but we were slow getting there. On the way we saw the Circus Maximus, explored what we thought was Palatine Hill (it wasn’t), and ended up wandering the streets until we discovered a beautiful river walk. The trees draped over the side walk reaching for the water lit below. It was getting dark by now, so we stopped for some coffee/cappuccino/hot chocolates to keep us awake a while.
Eventually, we looped back to the Pantheon again because at night it looks completely different inside. The interior is lit and the oculus is left vacant by the night’s sky. Afterwards, we finally found the Spanish steps and made our way to the chapel at the top.
The 7 of us were quite tired, so we hit the subways, aiming for our hostel (Hostel Downtown, by the train station)
It turned out much nicer than I had expected! If you want to hear about it, I will tell you later. 13 euro, 6 to a room…Lock boxes…very clean…very secure… good sleep. We were so tired. Sunday: Vatican City