Friday, May 12, 2017

Breathtaking Rome

Traveling through Europe over the past three years has been an amazing experience.  My family and I experienced new cultures, tasted new foods, and learned new languages. Our adventures will be forever treasured and our memories forever cherished.   (John 1:3 "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.")

Our first major trip was to Rome, Italy.  It was absolutely breathtaking!   This iconic city's astounding architecture and history caught us off guard every turn we took.  From the elaborate churches to the historical ruins, we loved every minute of it.
With a single step out of our hotel door, our senses were awaken.  Fresh waffle cones baking in the neighboring gelato shops, church bells ringing a melodic tune, and weathered cobblestone paths darting in between buildings.  It was like stepping back in time (minus the men selling selfie sticks).

The first cobblestone path we took led us to the ancient Pantheon.  The Pantheon, dedicated in 126 AD,was originally a Roman Temple.  It later became a church in the 7th century.  This magnificently preserved  building stands as a circular dome on a beautiful plaza.  Despite the crowds, the plaza overlooking the Pantheon was a wonderful place to have lunch.   

Following the Pantheon, we headed up another path towards the Piazza Navona.  This plaza was a
huge space with street vendors, cafes, and beautiful fountains. Originally constructed in the first century, Romans used it as a space to watch "games".  It later became a market space and eventually the open public space it is today.  The buildings, churches, and fountains display examples of elaborate Baroque architecture and art.

The following day we explored Rome in the rain.  Not as comfortable, but no less memorable.  We passed a cute tea shop near the Spanish steps.  We discovered churches that we didn't even know
existed.  And we explored the Trajan's Market.

The rain was a great excuse to just wander the city.  Stumbling upon the Trajan's Market was a great discovery.  Possibly the world's oldest shopping
center, the Trajan Market, built around 100AD,  overlooks Rome.  From the upper levels, we could see Palantine Hill, the Imperial Forum, and the Colosseum. 

The Colosseum looks amazing in pictures, but when you see it in person, it just takes your breath away.  We were fortunate to book a tour that took us to all levels of the Colosseum.  Our tour guide was phenomenal and taught us so much about its history.  We explored the lower levels where the slaves and animals were kept.  From there, we could see how they raised and lowered the platforms to bring the animals and gladiators
to the center stage.  We later walked out onto center stage and were able to look at the seats and people surrounding us.  It was amazing at how small we felt.  Finally, we were taken to the top levels.  These higher seats were for the poorer citizens.  Funny thing is, they still had a great view but were out of reach from the wild
animals or swinging weapons.  From the top level, we could see out across the Imperial Forum, across to Julius Caesars' old stomping grounds, and even the famous balcony where Mussolini once stood.

Besides exploring the city of Rome, we also found our way to the Vatican.  Unfortunately, we traveled Easter weekend and the crowds
 were suffocating.  We did get some good pictures before making use of our skip the line tickets to get into the Vatican Museums and
the Sistine Chapel.  Michelangelo's art on the ceiling of The Sistine Chapel was detailed and mesmerizing.  Although many people were lucky enough to grab a photo of it, we followed the rules and refrained from taking a picture.

Rome was by far one of my favorite cities in Europe.  I have
hundreds of pictures and stories to tell, but I've probably rambled on enough.  Have you ever been to Rome?  What are your favorite memories?  Are you planning a trip to Rome?  If so, feel free to leave a comment with a question and I will be happy to help you out in any way I can.

Grab a latte, put up your feet, and join the discussion!

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