I have fallen in love with the Eternal City. It is the most romantic and enchanting city I have come to know. Rome is just as I had imagined it to be but ten times better. Buildings in colors of terracotta, blush, & coral adorned with long windows & accessorized with these long beautiful hunter green shutters hanging over the broken up cobbled streets had me at hello. The umbrella pine trees provided shade and it’s roots stretched forth throughout the whole setting. I learned that the umbrella pine tree’s were given their name because they are these pale grey skinny trunks that lead up to an umbrella shaped limb with leaves on it that provide Rome’s pine nuts used to make pesto sauces and majority of their Italian dishes. I loved the umbrella pine trees. They were a great decoration to the streets of Rome.
The history of Rome is so fascinating. Our tours we went on included the Coliseum, the Pantheon, Vatican City, The Vatican, and the Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica. Rome is incredible. I have been dying to visit the Coliseum as I have studied it through out all of college in my art history classes and to actually see it, feel it, and walk inside this gladiator auditorium in person was something I couldn’t believe. It was beautiful. It was large and sat in the center of Rome surrounded by other Roman ruins. The weather was perfect; it was hot and sunny and was perfect to spend an afternoon in the Coliseum hearing stories of the gladiators & beasts fighting to their death for pure entertainment. Keep in mind these shows were for free and the Emperors would attend and watch from up top of the Coliseum. I learned that most of the gladiators were very large fat men. The fatter the men, the better, because that meant there would be more bloodshed, which would provide more entertainment. Sort of twisted, but also very interesting. I tried my very best to imagine the gladiators fighting these wild beats, and trying to picture it and bring it to life as I stood in the center of this iconic ruin. I could have spent days in there if I had the chance. Days.
When leaving the Coliseum, we saw a group of nuns walking by and it was so picturesque. It just screamed Roma & the Divinci Code. Zeke and I tried to take photos of them as I wanted to capture the moment and they all turned around as quick as they could to hide themselves from our cameras! Whoops!
Walking through the city of Roma was my favorite part. The buildings and ruins are exquisite and there are roman statues and sculptures sculpted by non other than my very favorite, Bernini and they were in every corner. On this one building there were black bronze sculptures of chariots escorting roman gladiators and I couldn’t take it all in, it was all so overwhelming and beautiful. I can’t believe this actually exists. And I am so thankful that it does. We continued our tours to the Pantheon which was so fun to witness in real life, as that was another iconic architectural building I had studied in art history. The Pantheon was Zeke’s favorite building. That is where all the important history took place in Rome, which is where everything went down.
Once we were done exploring, we found the most delicious Italian restaurant in the most beautiful and quaint side alley way street for supper. Can I just tell you that that was the best pasta I have ever had in all my life? Of course it was, because it was Rome but I really didn’t think it could live up to what everyone has always talked about. And our waitress was so darling! Truly, my first impression of Italian’s is that they are so friendly and excited to share their love for Rome or Italy with us tourists. You can sense the proudness they have for their country and I love and respect that. It’s impossible to not fall in love with Rome. After supper we found ourselves some gelato and died and went straight to heaven. There is no such thing as gelato in America anymore. The real stuff only exists here in Italy and I’ll be eating it every time I set my eyes on it this holiday.
Rome at night is magical. The streetlights and candlelight’s make the streets sparkle and glow and meanwhile you continually get lost in between these beautiful terra cotta buildings with Italian’s zipping through on their vespas. There are fountains in just about every square and courtyard and all you want to do is empty your wallet of pennies and spin around three times making wishes as you toss them into the water. I was so sad. The Trevi Fountain has been something I have wanted to see for quite some time and it was all covered up as it was under construction. What a let down, though we did find another similar fountain that had sculptures of mermaid-like men holding their tritons with fish jetting out of the water and squirting water from their fishy lips. I took some pennies and wished to have a girl as my first child and spun three times for good luck and hoped it would come true. It did not. I'm currently pregnant, and with a boy.
The next day we had a tour set up to see Vatican City, go inside the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica. Vatican City was my favorite. For some reason, I find the history of the Catholic Church combined with Rome very very fascinating. The Divinci Code also kind of helps out with this fascination. But Vatican City was unreal. All of the statutes that surrounded the walls of Vatican City were so beautiful and stunning and they were very stark white. And with them standing high against the blue azure sky was really something else. Inside the Vatican were the most beautiful halls of artwork featuring many biblical stories & catholic related scenes. The ceilings were painted so well with great shadow technique that it tricked your eye into believing that it was a relief, and it was completely two-dimensional. Many of the walls were decorated with large religious tapestries from the 1800’s in very beautiful pinks, reds and shades of blues.
Then there was the Sistine Chapel. I was beyond floored. I was so excited to see it having learned so many things about it in art history and knowing the facts, the importance and significance of that chapel. It was beyond anything I could imagine. I couldn’t even comprehend the amount of work it took Michelangelo and his assistant. The chapel was filled with such a calm spirit and knowing it was a very holy room, you couldn’t speak or take photos, which added to the experience making it truly special. I was actually happy learning that I couldn’t take a photo because then I knew I wouldn’t be distracted trying to capture the best shot, but instead just take it all in and have a moment to be in the face of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. The colors were much brighter than I had expected and I loved all of the pink hues he used to paint. Every inch was incredible. It was honestly a spiritual experience and I found myself tearing up a bit and having to hold back my emotion. I just felt so lucky to be standing in a chapel with such remarkable history painted by one of the most renowned artists in a chapel where the Pope’s men meet to choose the next Pope. It was incredible.
Then we made a trip to St. Peter’s Basilica, which also blew me away! I just can’t believe Rome, what a city. St. Peter’s was never ending and the ceilings and walls were incredible with so many sculptural reliefs covered in dark bronze and gold. There were so many iconic things in there that I had remembered studying in art history and I just couldn’t believe that I was actually able to see it in person. Not many people get to. I think St. Peter’s Basilica was Zeke’s favorite. He said he could have spent hours upon hours in there, and I agreed. Quick side note, there were 1,200 reservations made to visit the Vatican THAT DAY that doesn’t include the line of people waiting which wrapped around the whole city. The fact that we were able to go in was very lucky of us.
Overall Rome was a dream and I have fallen in love with the Eternal City. I wish so badly I was able to spend more time there, like a week. I do feel so blessed that I was able to just be there for even the short amount of time, but I remember thinking I’ll probably never go back to any of these cities because I have already done them and there are other places to go on my bucket list. But now, I HAVE to come back now. I just have to. Roma really did a number on me. There hasn't been a day since being in Rome where I haven't not thought of that eternal city. And it's almost been a year since we were there.