My first day in Rome was spent in something of a sleepy haze, following a short overnight train from Venice. That was really unfortunate, because the next two and a half days in Rome were packed full! After three and a half days there, I felt that I had covered enough of the sights to have a feel for Rome’s historical attractions, but there were still many more to cover. I could also have gone back to all of them with a knowledgeable tour guide and learned a lot more.
The second day was the real beginning, when we went to the Colosseum in the morning.
The Colosseum itself was incredible, as was all the information about the games held there. For instance, in Roman times the Colosseum could be filled with water for mock naval battles! And following one emperor’s successful military campaign, the festivals and games used 10,000 animals and 11,000 gladiators.
Right across from the Colosseum was the entire archeological complex of the Roman forum and Palatine Hill. Those were just as amazing, especially seeing the excavation of Augustus’ house, and the Curia – the old Roman Senate building. We tried to listen in on a few tours, and got some cool information that way. Walking through the ancient Roman buildings gave a strong impression of the majesty the city of Rome had 2,000 years ago.
At the Forum, we also met up with some Lafayette students from Germany there, and stayed with two of them the entire time that we were in Rome. Later that evening, we all walked around towards Piazza Navona, the site of a famous Bernini sculpture. The piazza was great, and there were artists all around the square, a bunch of them doing their work surrounded by a crowd.
One man was doing beautiful work by building up layers of paint and then strategically scraping them away to form brightly colored nature scenes. The piazza was beautiful, and we came back again for our final night in Rome.
The next day we traveled to the Vatican to see St. Peter’s Basilica. The basilica and St. Peter’s Square were gorgeous, but they made me think about all the wealth involved in building it and the countless other cathedrals in Rome. Paintings, sculptures and gold were everywhere.
The grandiosity of the Vatican gave it an air of corruption, when the Church’s money could have been better spent on charity and good works.
From then on, we saw a few other monuments in Rome, hung out in Piazza Navona. Rome itself is a beautiful city, definitely my favorite in Europe so far. Nearly every single street has excavations, large cathedrals, or important monuments. Unlike the main islands of Venice though, the city is alive, with busy cars screeching and real people living there. I loved all the small cheap stores in Rome selling pizza, pasta and kebabs – I feel as if those shops show how alive the city is. Also, nothing is more exciting to me while traveling than Roman monuments, so for that reason alone, Rome was great. I could easily have spent another week in Rome, learning more about each of the places we visited, exploring new cathedrals and Roman sites, and exploring more of the modern city as well. I definitely hope to get back to Rome sometime in my life!