Doing what they do...
Trip Start May 05, 2010
21Trip End Aug 24, 2010
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Where I stayed
We arrived at Roma Termini (my new least favorite station ever) and quickly found our hostel, The Papaya, which was really more like a flat. Once we got ourselves checked in and settled we were off to quickly see what we could with the remainder of our day (it was already 2pm). We set off for Vatican City, and decided to start with the museum. So, the Vatican museum is filled with artistic and historic masterpieces, and was actually quite interesting! I especially thought of my brother-in-law Trevor when looking at their Egyptian and Ancient near Eastern collections (I saw some cuneiforms Trev!) The main point of the museum is the final stop - The Sistine Chapel!!
After this visit we were super tired, hot, and hungry. We found a tiny hole-in-the-wall pizza cafe and got ourselves some pizza. I had zucchini pizza, which was actually delicious! Such a nice change from tomato/mozzarella paninis!
Our last stop of the day was a visit to the Spanish Stairs. Truthfully, this was one of those "obligation visits"; we knew we were supposed to go see them but couldn’t really remember what the big deal was
We got an early start and took the Rome metro to the Colloseum. We walked out of the station and just stood there gasping... it was breathtaking! We went inside and got to wander around two different levels, again taking pictures until we were blue in the face. We didn't go on a tour, but used the downloaded audio-guide that I had put on my iPod. It wasn't perfect, but it gave us the info that we were looking for! Our next stop was the Roman Forum. I'm not gonna lie, I had never even heard about the Forum before Friday. So, just in case you haven’t either, I will tell you that the Forum is a ruined site that was basically the city center of ancient Rome. It is where there were markets, shops, trading, and temples to the various Roman gods. Immediately beside The Forum was Palatin Hill, which I understood to be a residential area but since we didn’t have a guide and there weren’t any plaques the details are unclear
On the walk back to the hostel from the Pantheon I just HAD to stop in at the Chapeli de Santa Maria to see a famous statue that I had studied in clas, (and one that appears in Angels and Demons fyi) called St Theresa in Ecstasy
Vanessa and I had both heard about the Catacombs, but had forgotten to put it on our list. Thankfully, Nessa was looking through our travel book and was reminded of them. So early Saturday morning we packed ourselves up and braved the trip (which involved both the Metro and the Bus service) and found ourselves on the Via Appia Antiqua (Aks: The Appian Way... that’s right, the same one as is mentioned in the Bible). Catacombs were the ancient method of burial. They are basically underground ally ways with holes carved into the walls where bodies were placed and then sealed over. So the walls are at times over 20 feet high, because they would keep digging and creating new levels, and so you can look up and see all these levels of empty slots where bodies used to be. There are 4 levels altogether, and I remember the guide saying the over all depth is 20 metres. These particular catacombs were used almost exclusively for burying martyred Christians; there are half a million people buried there, from a period of 250 years. Christians also used to go there to have their church services in secret until the Edict of Milan. All in all it was obviously an exceptionally moving visit that was well worth the hour’s journey.
After the Catacombs, and a quick picture of us on the Appian Way, we continued on to find Castel Sante Angelo
We had good intentions of going to see a recommended quarter of the city, away from the tourist traps, but i was just too pooped to do anything else, and so we retired to our hostel for the night. Well, not quite, we did have to pop out for a quick trip to Roma Termini to wait in a 2 hour line to get our ticket for the next day... did I mention how I feel about Roma Termini?
All in all, our general impressions of Rome were that it was a beautiful city. Everywhere you look there is some sort of super ancient awesome thing, be it a bit of the Roman wall in the middle of a traffic circle or the public drinking fountains that are still in use and are everywhere in the city. There are easily 20 beautiful churches that we didn’t see, tons of museums that we didn’t get to, and of course a rich city life that is there underneath all the tourism if you have the energy to seek it out. Please put Rome on your dream list, we think you’ll like it :)