ABOUT halfway into the tour, I started counting the days to see how many had passed. I wasn’t looking forward to going home. I was sad to see how quickly time was flying! Rome was the last stop on our tour, and we had only two days left. During a stop between Florence and Rome, Jennifer gathered our group together to thank our driver, Sylvaim, and give him a little gift.
We had some time on our own after arriving in Rome. We had pizza for lunch with several from our group. A little while later, we regrouped and met our local guide, Francesca.
HIGHLIGHTS, DAY 1
Our first stop was the Capitoline Museum, which became one of my favorites from the entire tour. Francesca talked about architecture, art, sculptures, etc. to help us understand it from an ancient Roman’s perspective. She gave exhibits context that you wouldn’t otherwise get from going through a museum on your own.
One example from the Capitoline: We were in a room with various sarcophagi, and some of them had little cherubs or statues of baby boys on top of them. Francesca pointed out that the little statues would never have been placed atop the sarcophagi in ancient Rome. The statues were actually ancient Roman “garden gnomes” - lawn ornaments! And the little cherubs likely would’ve been placed next to fountains and birds.
Background image: Roman Forum
Below: Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius outside the Capitoline
The Pantheon was the next big thing on our list. I was really excited to see it, too. It’s an ancient architectural wonder!
Trevi Fountain. After dinner, the entire group met back at the Pantheon and headed to the Trevi Fountain. Gorgeous fountain, especially lit up at night. It was a lot more crowded than I expected, but we squeezed in a few pictures and tossed in a few coins.
More gelato! We went to two different places. One of my favorite flavors, pistachio!
The Boy with Thorn (left) commemorates the loyalty of a shepherd boy who ran to bring an important message to the Roman Senate only stopping to pull a painful thorn from his foot. The Capitoline She-wolf (upper right) is the symbol of the city. Interestingly, the twins were added later and the original work probably had nothing to do with the legend of Rome's founding! You can't help but look into the eyes of the bronze statue of Junius Brutus, the first Roman consul (lower right).
This church, completed in 126 AD, was formerly a Roman temple. In fact, an Egyptian obelisk is part of the fountain in the Piazza Dell Rotonda (upper left). The Pantheon's most famous feature is the oculus in the concrete dome (upper right) which beautifully fills the interior with natural light (upper center). The prominent inscription on the porch façade reads: M. AGRIPPA L.F. COS TERTIUM FECIT translated to Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, three-time consul, made this (bottom).
Roman Forum Ruins
Only the facade remains of the what was once the Temple of Saturn. That temple was dedicated around 497 BC! Translated, the inscription reads "The Senate and People of Rome, restored following destruction by fire" relates to a reconstruction carried out around 365 AD.
Roman Forum Ruins
From the Tabularium, Nate and Andrew take in thousands of years of ruins - looking through the Temple of Vespasian and Titus, over the House of Vestals, and at the Arch of Titus. Scaffolding surrounds the tower of the Santa Francesca Romana in the background.
The Dying Galatian
The beautiful and well known marble sculpture is actually a copy of a lost Hellenistic sculpture (possibly bronze). This work may have been commissioned around 225 BC!
You Don't See this in the States
Priests robes for sale are displayed in a Roman shop window.
Trevi Fountain Coin Toss
The correct way to do the Trevi Fountain coin toss is by using the right hand to toss the coin over your left shoulder as in the 1954 Academy Award-winning movie Three Coins in the Fountain. An estimated 3,000 Euros a day are thrown into the fountain. The money is used to help the needy.
WE met with Francesca again the next morning - this time, to see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
HIGHLIGHTS, DAY 2
At the Colosseum, Francesca told us to imagine what the structure must’ve looked like back in ancient Rome. She did the same as we walked through the Forum, too. She wanted us to think about the scale of the buildings, the awe an ancient Roman must’ve felt when looking up at these buildings or at a certain statue.
The Roman Forum. I was shocked at just how many structures were crammed into one place, especially considering how large and imposing they all must’ve been.
After the Roman Forum, the rest of the day was free. Omar and I paired up with Emily and her son, Noah, and took a taxi to the Vatican. Emily and Noah already had tickets to go inside the Sistine Chapel later that day. The tickets were date and time stamped, so they went ahead of us into St. Peter’s Basilica. Omar and I tried to get tickets to the Sistine Chapel, but the line to get tickets from the Vatican Museum was incredibly long. So we went back and took our time going through St. Peter’s Basilica.
St. Peter’s Basilica has been the largest church in the world for centuries. It’s beautiful.
Michelangelo’s Pietà is prominently displayed there.
Our last dinner together as a group.
Image above: Panorama of the Colosseum
Below: Swiss Guard outside of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican
Not all hotels in Rome occupy an entire building. Sometimes, they occupy only a few floors, like ours. Other floors could be another hotel altogether. The front desk was in a little office located next door to our building’s lobby. And the elevators aren’t very big. To get all our luggage upstairs, one of the gentlemen from our group offered to ride the elevator with all of our luggage.
Crossing the street. Jennifer taught us that as a pedestrian, there must be an understanding between you and the approaching driver. Make direct eye contact to communicate to them, “I’m going to cross the street.” And then walk with a brisk, steady pace. Don’t stop and start, or you might cause or become an accident.
Francesca, our Tour Guide for Rome
Triple Arch Septimus Severus
Walking through the Roman Forum
Arch of Titus
Saint Peter's Basilica
Inside the Saint Peter's Basilica
Those sunbeams aren't Photoshopped! Everywhere we turned, sunlight streamed through the windows.
Inside the Saint Peter's Basilica