Viva Roma!

Trip Start Jun 19, 2008
Trip End Oct 11, 2008

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Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Wednesday, August 20, 2008

When in will never find enough time to do everything there is to do, you will feel yourself developing emphysema from pollution and 2nd hand smoke, you will never want to live without a gelateria, you will smell bad, you will nearly walk your feet off, you will be surprised and awed, and you will never want to leave. At least I didn't. Rome is definitely one of my favorite cities. The mixture of ancient and new is invigorating and beautiful while being real. The city has an amazing history, and there are many things and places to see, but it is still very much alive. Rome can be touristy, but a traveler doesn't forget that people are still living their modern lives in the city that ruled for over 1000 years. Buses and subways run by the ruins of the colosseum. People talk on their cell phones in the Roman forum. Electric lighting runs through the catacombs. Cabs zoom down the Appian Way. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

Sights we saw:
1. The Colosseum Forum and Palatine Hill -- The Forum, as I'm sure you know, was the seat of Rome's government. There were basilicas, temples, markets, senate buildings, etc. Now, there are mostly only ruins, due to time and the quarrying of the marble by locals, but it is still amazing. We even saw the place where Julius Ceasar's body was burned after his murder. People still leave flowers on the spot! Everyone should see the Forum at least once, and try to imagine what life was like -- how rich and advanced-- so many years ago. Palatine Hill is the hill near the Forum where Roman emperor after Roman emperor built his palace, each trying to outdo the last. There is even less left there, but we could see the ruins of Augustus' house and Caligula's palace. Both must have been grand.

2. The Borghese Gallery -- set in a large, gorgeous Borghese Park, the gallery was once the home of a wealthy cardinal who collected tons of stunning, priceless Renaissance art. The paintings are amazing, but the highlights of this gallery were two statues by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Both are scenes from Greek mythology. One is of Hades kidnapping Persephone, and the other is of Apollo trying to capture Daphnae. Both are real-looking, and Bernini sure was good with his marble.

My fingers are going numb from typing, so here's Ryan:

3. The Catacombs -- We took a half an hour tour explaining the history of the St. Sebastian catacombs. There are 7 miles of winding tunnels in the outskirts of rome. Every 6 feet, there are little tombs dug into the sides of the walls where Christian families buried their dead 1800 years ago. There was a small chapel-like room where St. Sebastian was buried and Christians met to worship. They used to eat meals in some rooms dug directly over thier families tombs. Generally it was an informative and creepy experience.

4. Trevi Fountain, Rome at night, and the Spanish steps-- These are all beautiful sights... check out our pictures. IF you do manage to get out for the indian guys selling flowers. Patti literally had 3 roses forced into the 2 fingers not clutching a gelato cone, with the guy pleading "Just for you a present! Just give me SOME  MONEY! No? Why are you dating him?"

5. Trastevere - this beautiful old medieval neighborhood is jam packed with italians strolling before and after dinner. Some of the best people watching we have ever had. It is also lined with dozens of amazing little restaurants serving some of the best homemade pasta you will ever eat. We had a great time sitting, eating, drinking, eating and staring in this neighborhood. Check it out if you go to Roma - there is definately more to the city than Catholicism and ruins.

We are now in Sorrento, Italy and planning a few relaxing days of scenic drives, beachgoing, and swimming in the Mediterranean. Wish us luck!
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