Incredible Italy: Romantic Roma
My last stop in this beautiful country! Having survived torrential rains in Milan, and parading Christians in Brindisi, I had no idea what Rome would bring. The short answer? Sore feet! The best way to see this incredible place is to walk the streets, and so I slapped on a hat, ignored the heatwave and set out.
My first stop framed the historic shape of the Colosseum against the clearest of blue Italian skies. The Colosseum lives up to its name as the largest amphitheatre ever built, sometime between 70 and 80 AD. It’s estimated to have held between fifty and eighty thousand spectators for a single event, and these days clocks in with at least four million visitors every year. As a monument, the Colosseum is unforgettable, and it was the perfect starting point for my high-speed sprint through the city.
Next, I wound my way through the streets to peek inside the Pantheon. This building was first a Roman temple, and was built just before construction began on the Colosseum. The main dome still stands clad in the original Roman concrete, and has a centre occulus that lets in natural light. This picture, however, depicts a section of ceiling above the altar, and was added in the 17th or 18th century by the Catholic church. This gorgeous building has served as inspiration to architects around the world.
A dash across town next brought me to the Trevi fountain, glittering in the midday sun. If you have ever gone anywhere with me, you’ll know that getting lost is just part of the process, so yes — I admit I got to see quite a few Roman backstreets before finally being rewarded with this view.
The heat wave I’ve been dragging along behind me as I circle the globe took firm hold of Rome while I was there, so sitting by this fountain was a lovely respite.
By this time, all the miles of Roman cobbles behind me meant that I climbed the Spanish steps with very tired feet. Evidence:
I know what you’re thinking — those could be ANY steps, kc. So, as proof of my veracity, here are the actual Spanish Steps draped in actual Roman tourists:
In spite of the sore feet, the best was yet to come. After another decent walk, I left the country of Italy, and stepped into the smallest nation in the world — the Vatican.
I spent the rest of the day marvelling my way through the Vatican museums. After a peek into the Sistine Chapel, I drank in artworks by the thousands, including this little piece — The School of Athens — painted by a young upstart known as Raphael.
I also got to admire St. Peter’s Basilica from the outside…
I’ve left all the astoundingly tiny humans in the shot to give some sense of scale. The lady Liberty could stand, unimpeded in all her glory, with plenty of room to spare inside this place. It is, in every way, mind-blowing.
St. Peter’s is a working house of worship, as evidenced by the service that began upstairs as I slipped beneath the building to take a peek at the crypt (a precursor of things to follow in an upcoming post!) I left the Vatican feeling completely breathless at the beauty contained inside, and with a better sense of the scope of the absolute power wielded by the Catholic church over the last two millennia.
My ridiculously short visit to this mad, beautiful city meant that I took in just enough to ensure I want to return to Rome one day, and see everything properly. But for now, the journey carries me onward, to perhaps the most astonishing — and frightening — experience of my life.
More on that, soon…