Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rome, Italy: Loving Life in the City of Love

it's really just all pirates and politics
It was about an hour and a half from Arezzo to Rome and LDL made a friend on the way. He had already extended an invitation to his place in Dubai by the time we pulled into Roma Termini.
We booked a triple room for three nights at Hotel Cressy a few blocks away from the main train station and checked in immediately. LDL and I took the double bed and Gibby took the single. After dumping our backpacks, we hit a nearby restaurant for pizza. Where LDL proceeded to spill vinaigrette on her leather purse from Prague to add to the marks of beer and gelato. I dissolved into fits of giggles. 
After lunch we wasted no time in locating the Colosseum, the place of death for half a million people from 80-406 AD. Though the place is in ruins, those ruins were spectacular. 
We joined a tour that refreshed me on the history I learned from Mr. Davis in Latin class at St.David's. From the Colosseum, our tour guide, Brent, led us to palatine hill and the roman forum. The Arch of Titus, built in 81 AD, is still standing. It acts as Titus' tomb and scenes from his life are etched on the ceiling of the molded stone.
Palatine Hill has always been the address of the emperor of Rome and in 753 BC Rome began at this hill with Romulus and Remus. 
Pieces of the original dining room floor built by Nero still remains.
The Roman Forum was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I saw the church where Peter and Paul were held in jail, and released. We saw Julius Caesar's tomb and walked on the original Roman road. It's incredible that such a modern city, full of the present and future, has so many remnants of the world's past.
At the conclusion of our tour, Brent gave us information about a tour of the Vatican in the morning. 
We wandered around the forum before turning the corner to see the tomb of the unknown Italian soldier ensconced in a blindingly white palatial building with regal Italian flags flying. 
We stumbled upon the Trevi fountain entirely by accident and I had my Lizzie McGuire moment, minus Paulo. I made my wish so it looks like I'll be back to Rome someday.  
At this point we were more than ready for dinner so we decided to venture outside of the touristy area to find a meal within our budget. 
 We did...And it's safe to say it was the worst meal if my life. We learned our lesson to never again eat somewhere where all of the entrees are pictured on the menu. Our meals tasted as if they had been taken out of a freezer and placed in the microwave.
In the morning we left Rome and entered the Vatican state. Michelangelo and Raphael are featured prominently on the outside on the door. The official language of the Vatican state is Latin, but our tour was thankfully in English. We saw a 1st century BC torso statue from which Michelangelo took his inspiration and the bathtub from Nero's residence. 
It seemed each room we entered was more breathtaking than the last; The walls painted more elaborately, the ceilings higher, the statues more intricate. But, of course, the long-awaited highlight was the Sistine Chapel. It was strategically placed at the end of our tour and we craned our necks to see the famous work of Michelangelo. I may or may not have snapped a quick picture with my phone. The thing took five years, how could I just look and leave!?!
After lunch (pasta with bacon yep heaven), we found St. Peter's Basilica, took one look at the line, and decided the outside was good enough for us! LDL and I frolicked and danced, much to the dismay of other tourists and also probably the Pope, while Gibby pretended not to know us. 
Cadet Squad turned toward the Spanish steps and spent some time in the sun, people-watching and being watched. I think the Spanish steps were one of my favorite things in Rome. Soaking up the sun with a cold lemon gelato in my hand and Italy around me? Might even have been better than a beach! 
That evening we decided we would try to be adults for an evening and go out for a wine and cheese dinner. I don't think our restaurant took us seriously, but it was a new experience. We picked up more bottles after dinner before discovering we didn't have an opener. SO we bought one that I was later stopped with on my way through airport security in Copenhagen. #memories
We talked for hours and drank our wine, all except for LDL who earned a demerit for not finishing her bottle. Cadet squad is better than that. 
We slept in on our final full day in Rome before finding lunch and the Spanish steps for a final time. A street magician tried to lift up my tank top for one of his tricks and I backed away uncomfortably. Unless he was going to make six pack abs appear, I wasn't interested. Italian men are so FORWARD! 
We left soon after to find the Medici mansion, which led us to fantastic views of Rome and a shaded park. We found ourselves in the Piazza de Populo and took the Via de Corso down to the Pantheon, stopping in stores along the way. The Pantheon was indescribable. A choir was singing at the front while we were there and I slowly walked around, trying to take it all in. I never really could comprehend it. We made it back to the Colosseum one final time to see the iconic structure by night and were not disappointed. I'm so glad we spend three nights in Rome. I needed every last one. I'm sure I could spend a week there and still not be ready to leave. The beautiful history of Rome made me want to be an Italian Very Lucky Girl. 

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