Friday, August 6, 2010

Visiting 2 Countries in 1 Day!

Our second day started off by taking a bus ride to the Forum and around the Coliseum. Most of you know that I'm a big ol' nerd, so ignore my history lessons :)!

The forum was kind of like the downtown of Rome back in Julius Ceasar's rule. This is where the senate held meetings and where Ceasar was killed by his son Brutus. We got to see the actual crematorium where Ceasar's body was cremated.

One of the ruins that I found most interesting was the house of the Vestal Virgins, there were 10 that were chosen. They were the priestesses of the Vesta, of the hearth. They would live together in the temple, and took a vow of chastity for 30 years. After the 30 years, they were able to marry if they chose to. They kept the sacred fire burning all day and night.

There was an original Roman path from the Forum to the Coliseum, that was paved with cobblestones that Ceasar himself and his troops walked along. (It just amazes me that we were able to walk the same path as some of the most well known historical figures.)

The arch leading into the Coliseum was beautiful. The detail and the craftsmanship is nothing like you would see today. And this has been there for thousands of years.

The Coliseum, all I can say is WOW! I never thought that I would see something so amazing in my life. To know that this building has been through so many wars, and seen so many animals and gladiators die in battle, just amazes me. The feeling you get when you are in Rome is indescribable, it's breathtaking to see the city, especially the Coliseum. (Jason and I of course took a TON of pictures here!)

One fun fact about the Coliseum, is that there is "original" graffiti on one of the pillars inside. It pointed the men in the direction of the women, who were part of the world's oldest profession...can you guess what it is???

The maps along the wall outside of the Coliseum and the forum were very interesting to me. The show the growth of the Roman Empire. (The White area is the the pictures change you'll see it grow.)

You'll notice in some of our pictures that I am in a long dress, and mind you it's over 100 degrees with humidity out...this is because we were also visiting the smallest, and richest country in the world also...Vatican City. Yep, it is it's own country; it has it's own rules, postal service, and government.

Out of respect and to be conservative, they ask that women wear clothing that cover your knees and shoulders (preferably a dress) and that men do the same. Most of the people in our group were respectful of this.

When you enter the Vatican, you're put through "airport" security. Yep, they x-ray bags and put you through a metal detector. If there was any question that this was the richest and smallest country, that question was answered the moment you walked into the courtyard. The Vatican is a beautiful place.

I heart this pine cone!

The Vatican museum is amazing but it way too large to ever see all of it in a day, so we got the highlights. We had an "official" tour guide, who was the same dude from the Coliseum and the Forum. He was funny..."Follow the guide."

Peter was very knowledgeable about the city and showed us many of the most valued and most important areas of the Vatican.

There was a commune of the priests while we were there, so parts of Vatican City were closed off, like St. Peter's Square & St. Peter's Basilica. But we were lucky enough to be able to visit the Sistine Chapel.

It is a beautiful place. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, so they can make sure that it is preserved for all to see. Several of my friends have gone to Rome and not been able to see the Sistine Chapel, so I think we were lucky to be able to see it in person.

After visiting Vatican City, we were done with the tour group for the night. Jason and I wanted to see as much of Rome as we could, so we decided to walk back to the hotel. (Note...Vatican City is on the complete opposite side of Rome from our hotel.)

We took our time walking back, stopping in Piazza Navona where we visited the night before. The piazza was so different during the day. It was filled with artists and small vendors. We found one artist who was painting water colors of the piazza. He showed us the difference between the "copies" some were selling and an original.

We chose a painting that he had painted earlier that morning. He even took his picture with me :D.

When we got back to the piazza where then Pantheon was, we were very hot and decided to have a snack of gelato! This is the place that has over 100 flavors of personal favorites were the mandarin and the champagne.

We walked through the Pantheon, then started back toward the hotel. When we got back to the hotel, we were exhausted, so we took a short nap.

We woke up around dinner time, so we got cleaned up and went out to find us a cafe. We found a cute little cafe, about 6 blocks from the hotel, that we decided to stop out. It turned out to be the best food we had in Italy! I almost got another plate of my pasta...but we decided to go for the tiarimissu instead. Which was made of 100% was amazing! I almost licked the bowl completely clean!

After dinner, we thought we would go for a short walk and have our second dessert (don't judge) of gelato...of course we went back to the 100 flavor place :). After walking around a little bit and enjoying our gelato, we decided to take the metro back to the hotel, because our legs were tired from our walk across Rome earlier.

Well...we learned that even though most places are still open and most are just going to dinner at 11 or 12 o'clock, that the metro closes at 11. So...the only way back to the hotel...walking.

After walking through the metro station, we got turned around and ended up some where. Luckily Jason has a good sense of direction, cause I'd have been lost all night. We ended up walking the 4 miles back to the hotel and got back around 2 am...where we then CRASHED in our Ricky & Lucy beds.

The next was off to Sorrento!