Being highly anticipated, my trip to Rome was even better than I was expecting! After traveling to other Italian cities such as Milan, Cinque Terre, Venice, and more, I was excited to finally make my way to the ancient city of Rome. This would be the longest trip I would take with my study abroad program, as we would be spending a little over three days in the city so we would have enough time to cover everything -- or at least close to everything. So, the time finally came. We hopped on our coach bus and began the 4 hour ride to Rome!
I had briefly experienced Rome already, since my friends and I flew out of the Rome airport on our way to Santorini, Greece (and I have a blog about that trip, check it out here). In my short time there, I was able to see just how large Rome is! Nonetheless, we set out on our three days of adventure by beginning our first day with a walking tour of the historic district of Rome. While there we made our way to Piazza di Spagna, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and more. It was incredible to simply be in these spaces that I've always seen pictures of. And, for those who grew up watching the Lizzie McGuire movie, I'm sure you can sense my excitement when I reached the Trevi Fountain and got to throw my coin in.
After this tour, we made our way to our hotel, which was lovely, and settled in before finding a restaurant to eat dinner. Interestingly enough, Rome is known for their spaghetti alla carbonara, and other similar dishes. Carbonara actually originated in Rome and consists of egg yolks, cheese, pepper and guanciale (pork cheek; it is very similar to fatty bacon). Needless to say, this was the majority of what I ate while I was there, including that first night when a few friends and I grabbed drinks and dinner at a local restaurant. Following dinner, we lounged around before heading to bed to get a good night of sleep before our next day of activities.
The following day, we awoke early, ate breakfast, and then departed on our bus tour through the city. We were able to cover a lot of terrain and see the famous Arena and even the Colosseum from a distance. We ended the bus tour at Castel Sant'Angelo where we were able to explore the castle grounds and enjoy a beautiful view of the entire city. There was even a rooftop where we were able to see the main Vatican City monuments from a distance.
After the tour of the castle, we had the rest of the day to explore the Vatican City. I actually learned while here that the Vatican City is its own city-state, which means it is its own country! So, that means I can add one more country to the list of those I visited! Of course, we made our way to the Vatican Museums to enjoy the beautiful artwork and maybe even see the pope too! After making our way through the large museum, my friends and I made it to the Sistine Chapel where we were able to see the famous and noteworthy artwork of Michelangelo. Though pictures inside the chapel were not permitted, the ability to simply stand in a room filled with such beautiful artwork created by legends is amazing. Visiting the chapel is certainly a high point of this trip!
Following the viewing of the chapel, I made my way to St. Peter's Basilica. The basilica is truly beautiful. Not only is it huge, the architecture and decor is jaw-dropping. Another jaw-dropping attribute is that there are deceased popes on display within the basilica that have been preserved with wax or bronze coatings. I was unaware that they were actually real, until I looked it up and was stunned that the wax figure I thought I was looking at was simply a well preserved very real body. It made me a bit uneasy, but those who knelled for prayer around these popes seemed content and that was nice to see.
We concluded the night by heading back to our hotel and grabbing a bite to eat at another local restaurant. Another fun fact about this city is that Romans eat dinner very late, usually beginning around 8pm. So when my friends and I showed up at a restaurant at 7pm we got quite a few strange looks! Nonetheless, we were served great food by kind and friendly staff and then we returned to the hotel to prepare for our last day in Rome.
On our last day, we were able to physically walk through the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. We walked up to the Colosseum and enjoyed a brief history of the structure from our guide before making our way inside. Actually, in the gallery of photos above, you can see the photo of the Roman emperor who they believe to have been black. As our guide said, his feature make it very clear of his heritage, however I didn't quite see it (leave a comment below and let me know what you all think). Anywho, we made our way inside and began to climb through the Colosseum. Believe me when I say that it is huge! The fact that it was man made thousands of years ago is incredible and shows the genius and dedication of the Romans.
After taking a few pictures in the Colosseum, we made our way to the Roman Forum, which is where citizens would go to hang out with friends and socialize. We were able to see the local meeting points and walk where the Romans walked. Following our stroll through the forum we enjoyed a nice lunch and a cup of gelato before making our way back home to Florence.
All in all, this was one of the best trips I had taken. Rome is full of such a long and impressive history, and being able to experience it for myself was amazing. Not to mention, I loved being able to say "when in Rome," an unreasonable amount of times because, well... when in Rome! Truly, Rome is a city I would love to see again, and hopefully for a longer period of time, so that I can get a better grasp of all the city has to offer!
A presto! (Talk to you soon!)