Sunday, January 13, 2013

Day 2: Rome, Italy

Our first entirely full day in Rome. We had a wonderful breakfast at the hostel. Got our gear for the day ready and headed out by about 930am. We walked past the Colosseum again and started our day looking out over the Roman Forum and the Forum of Peace built by Emperor Vespasian in 75AD. This forum was also used as a court by the Romans. It continuously blows me away how old everything is. From there we found the Piazza Venetzia. We spent a good bit of time exploring this massive building. It had breathtaking views of the city when you climbed to the top. I took lots of panoramic pictures up there :) there were massive statues lining the whole building which was built in 1911. Not nearly old considering what surrounds the plaza. But beautiful all the same. I still don't know what it was built for and it's been driving me crazy. From there we found our way to the Fontana di Trevi! You wouldn't expect it to be hidden between back alleys but sure enough it was. We were walking down tiny cobblestoned streets with no sidewalks with huge apartment buildings looming over us and turned a corner and BAM! The fountain just appears and takes over the whole street! It sounded like a waterfall it was so big. We each dropped in some Euro for good luck! Next on our list was the Vatican City. It was a good couple miles away but it was such a great walk! We crossed over the river (which looked so gross it makes the St. John's river look entirely purified). We saw the Castle S. Angelo. It's seriously a freaking castle in the middle of the city! Coolest thing ever!!! Just down the road from that we stopped at a cafe and had some espresso. We could see the Vatican through the windows. It was beautiful. When we walked up there was a huge group gathered singing hymns in front of the largest nativity scene in existence underneath a huge Christmas tree! (So my friends can stop talking about me still having up my Christmas decorations. If the Vatican still has theirs up it must be alright!) we walked around for a good bit and soaked it all up before heading to the pantheon. Again, like the Trevi Fountain you would think it would be on a main road and easy to find. I swear we walked three miles in circles trying to find the dang thing. We turned a corner and I could see just the side. After passing so many basilicas that's what we expected but after seeing the wear and tear of the side and as we walked closer I knew we found it! It was the most beautiful sight! To know that at one point hundreds of years ago thousands of Romans came to this single spot to worship and pray and thank the gods is just crazy to think about. Not to mention the kind of work that went into building it. The Pantheon contains the most beautiful and perfect dome in the whole world! It isn't held up by any sort of support system at all it relies solely on the base of the structure to keep in from falling in on itself. Every dome ever made after it was built modeling this. In 608 it was however converted into a basilica due to the growth of Christianity in Rome. So all of the statues of all the roman gods were taken out. You can still see where they were placed in the walls. According to the historical journal of Randall Branchcomb the statues still exist elsewhere in Rome but not sure of an exact location. On our walk back to the hostel we found so many more ruins in the middle of nowhere that we're found while companies tried to build something. It's literally a city built on top of a city and it's the coolest thing!

Randall hanging out with Caesar in front of the Roman Forum

Randall climbing the many stairs of the Piazza Venetzia.

One of the views from the top of the Piazza Venetzia. Straight in the middle you can see the Colosseum.

Randall and I in front of the Trevi Fountain. 

Randall walking by the Castle S. Angelo.

Randall walking through Vatican City.

First view of the magnificent Pantheon! (Made it just before it started raining)

Myself at the back of the Pantheon

A view of the Roman Forum.
A bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius in the center of Capitoline Hill (another of the 7 hills of Rome)

A pano taken from the top of Piazza Venetzia (you can see ruins across the street in the center and the colosseum is to the right)

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