Well, we just returned from a week in the Eternal City, and after having been there, I can now fully understand the name. A few years ago we took a road trip through Europe and our itinerary included some bits of Northern Italy, specifically, Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and Turin.
My mistake was thinking that Rome would be like these places, just bigger.
Italy is a truly fascinating place, but Rome...Rome is in a league of its own.
My first impression was while looking out the airplane window upon approach. The Mediterranean sea was sparkling and everything was so GREEN, a nice change from the dark and snowy Oslo morning I had left a few hours earlier. My sister flew over from Texas and we all met at the airport and thus began our Roman Holiday!
So, we have all heard of the Colosseum. The Roman Forum. The Palantine Hill. The Vatican. The Dome of St. Peter. The Pantheon.
Let me assure you, hearing about them and seeing them in person are two completely different things.
It started with the apartment we had rented for the week. A hot tip for you: it is cheaper to rent an apartment than it is to stay in a hotel! Rome is NOT cheap! We got ours on vrbo.com!
So, we arrive at the apartment which is supposed to be 'near' the Colosseum. When they say 'near', who knows what that really means, in our case, we walked out onto our huge terrace and this is what 'near' meant:
Can you believe that view??
Our jaws hit the floor! The Colosseum was about 1000 meters away!
In the distance, St. Peters Basilica. It was overwhelming. Directly in front of us, maybe 250 meters aways, a place called the Basilica of San Clemente. A church from the 1600's which sits on top of another church from the 4th century, which sits on top of a Mithraic temple from the first century. All of these layers have been excavated and you can work your way down through the centuries. Amazing. To the immediate left, the oldest monastery in Rome:
We sat down outside and drank our Sicilian red wine and absorbed the history surrounding us.
There is so much I could say on Rome, but I really just don't know where to begin. I have about 400 pictures, but there is no way to put them all here. Even if I could, they would be difficult to describe because so much of my experience of Rome was FEELING. Being overwhelmed. Being in AWE. All of this EXPOSED and VISIBLE history makes the mind and senses of this visually stimulated girl go CRAZY. Seeing stuff like this:
How is this stuff still standing?? Imagine it white and gleaming. A thriving society, so advanced and technically minded. Who could have even imagined that the Roman Empire could EVER NOT be the glorious center of the world?? I see things like this and I am perplexed. With these kind of structures and with that kind of society, how in the WORLD did the Dark Ages ever occur? It is mind boggling.
But this was what amazed me the most:
Those are just RUINS lying around!! Everywhere! Like tree branches or trash in any other city! Why don't they pick them up?? It just seems wrong to let chunks of thousand year old pillars lay about, doesn't it???