Italy Part 1…When in Rome…

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I know it’s only about a month and a half late, but I’m finally getting around to posting about my amazing vacation to Italy. We saw a lot and I felt like I needed a vacation afterwards, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. So here we go:

Day 1 – We landed in Rome about 8:00am in the morning and headed straight to the hotel to get ready for the day before heading out to explore Rome. Our first stop on the agenda was the Coliseum and Palatine Hill. The Coliseum was just as grand as I imagined it would be. It is amazing to see how sophisticated the architecture was way back then, including an efficient way to get thousands to their seats and a giant retractable canopy. We took a guided tour through the Coliseum and subsequently to Palatine Hill which is where the emperor’s palace used to be and has a great view of the Roman Forum.

After our lengthy tours, the heat and hunger were getting to us, so we decided to embark on our first meal in Italy. We found a quaint back alley restaurant in Trastevere with delicious pasta. It was a great way to start out with food in Italy.

Well fed and rested, we headed over to the Pantheon with its masterful domed architecture and “Angels & Demons” connections. After a quick walkthrough, we headed up the street to the Trevi Fountain.

The Trevi Fountain is quite the gathering place for people in Rome, but is also a wonderful work of art. They say if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain, it will ensure your return to Rome. I’m not superstitious, but I figured anything to get me back to Rome wouldn’t hurt.

As sunset ensued, we set off to our final destination of the evening: the Spanish Steps. Let’s be honest, I don’t why this place is so popular, but I wasn’t that impressed. There are just a lot of steps and hundreds of people day or night can be found sitting on them. Nothing too exciting, but when in as the Romans.

Day 2

For the next two days, we decided to join an organized tour. That required being picked up at our hotel at 6:30 am. Luckily we were able to sleep on the bus as we headed down to Naples and Pompeii. Naples is definitely a place in Italy that you could skip, but Pompeii was definitely worth it. It was so amazing to see a whole city from 2,000 years ago preserved. You can see hundreds of individual shops and houses. The Romans were a very advanced culture with well painted homes and temples that have been so well preserved.

When they were excavating the city any time they would find a hole, they would fill it with plaster, thus preserving the form of the ash that was being removed. These plaster forms have been kept and put on display. It is very sobering to see these people that were trapped when they saw the volcano erupting.

After touring Pompeii, we were taken to our hotel in Sorrento. Sorrento is a gorgeous city along the cliff-lined coast. Our hotel was gorgeous sitting right on the cliff. We spent the evening watching the sunset, enjoying a nice dinner overlooking the ocean and then exploring a little bit.

Day 3 – Capri

So after enjoying a nice breakfast, we took a boat back over to the island of Capri. I keep saying everything is gorgeous, but Capri truly is: deep turquoise water and cliffs rising out of the water. After touring the town of Capri and Anacapri, we took a chairlift up to the top of the mountain, which provided splendid views of the island. Many of the rich and famous vacation on this island or bring their yachts to the back bay of the island.

We were supposed to take a boat out to the Blue Grotto, but due to poor sea conditions no one was allowed in the Blue Grotto. Instead, we took a boat around the island to see some of the splendor up close. Our trip to Capri soon came to a close and we headed back to Rome.

Day 4 – The Vatican

The history of the Catholic church has always intrigued me, so I was so excited to go see the Vatican. We spent the morning touring the Vatican museum. The museum has a massive collection of Renaissance art, including the School of Athens.

The pinnacle of the Vatican museum is the Sistine Chapel. I walked in and was just stunned. It is absolutely awe inspiring to see the beautiful murals on the walls and ceiling. They don’t let you take pictures of it, but I’ve included one off of the internet.

After the Vatican museum, we went around to the front of the Vatican and entered St. Peter’s Square. The square is something I’ve always seen on TV or in movies, but it was great to finally see it in person.

After waiting in line for a few minutes, we were able to enter St. Peter’s Basilica. All I can say is, wow, that’s a big church. The inside is so ornate and rich with splendor. The only thing I found a little creepy is that they have some of the former Popes buried in the Basilica in glass coffins. And don’t forget that Michelangelo’s famous Pieta is located near the entrance.

After touring the inside of the church, I overcame my fear of heights and climbed up the dome of the Basilica and looked down inside the church from up above. I was definitely not regretful as the view from the dome is probably the best in Rome.

After a nice dinner, it was soon time to say goodbye to Rome…


Karlena said...

I love Italy. I have been to most of those places but ache to go again. Italy is so amazing. Glad that you got to experience so much. Thanks for the virtual trip. You do have a great life.

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