A Taste of Italy: Part 3 – Roma Day 3

Posted: 27 July 2015 in Travel
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Colosseum

Colosseum

Day 8

Basilica di San Pietro

Basilica di San Pietro

And so yet another adventure comes to an end. I really enjoyed my time in Italy and look forward to the day I can return. There is still so much to see and experience in this incredibly beautiful country. My hope is that I’ll be pretty proficient in italian when that time comes. I honestly feel that my trip would have been better, at least in Firenza, had I had a grasp of the language. But despite that, I tell you it was worth every minute.

My last day was spent between two places: the Basilica di San Pietro, and the Colosseo and Palatino. Since John had an early flight, I was left on my own to explore these last two magnificent places. Despite getting there pretty early, it was still not early enough to avoid waiting in a massive queue. At least it was nowhere near as long as for the museum. And it moved a lot quicker.

Michelangelo's Pieta

Michelangelo’s Pieta

There is so much to explore in the basilica. The only part of the edifice I really knew about was the outer facade. I may have mentioned this before, but I have a love of 3D puzzles. I have a 3D puzzle of the basilica so it has been a dream of mine to visit (since I want to have a picture of me with all the real buildings I have puzzles of). Being able to walk the halls of this incredible building was truly a beautiful experience.

After getting inside, I started walking along the right side and stumbled upon a statue that a crowd had gathered around. It was Michelangelo’s Pieta. It is truly a beautiful work of art. Of course I knew nothing about it. Now I do thanks to Google and Assassin’s Creed. It is considered to be the piece that made Michelangelo famous. Definitely check it out.

Truly, the architecture of the basilica is incredible. The high vaulted ceilings with their geometric designs, domes and half-domes with their intricate artwork, the plethora of towering sculptures lifelike in smooth marble, and the random bodies buried in the open. It is such a fascinatingly beautiful, gaudy building.

Inside the Basilica di San Pieti

Inside the Basilica di San Pietro

Beyond the main building, there are two additional touristic opportunities: the dome and the catacombs. The dome costs money, but the catacombs are free. If I had had the time, I would have loved to climb even more stairs (551 steps) to get an incredible view of Roma. I didn’t though so I only got to see the catacombs. You can’t take any pictures down there, but it is still very interesting. Next time I’m there, the first thing I’ll do is climb the dome.

The last stop on my list was the Colosseo. Naturally, you can’t just walk anywhere in Roma without passing something of historical significance. Rather than take a more direct route to the Colosseo, I opted to walk along the river and cross via the Isola Tiberina. I love the calming effect of water and since there was a small island nearby, I figured why not check it out. I’m kind of sad that I can’t find any pictures of it. Could have sworn I had some. Anyway. I got some lunch there as well. I want to say it was at Tiberino, but I can’t be sure. At any rate, it was good.

Circo Maximo

Circo Maximo

A slight bit east of Isola Tiberina is the Circo Maximo. While there isn’t much to see there other than a long stretch of dirt and sand with some ruins at the end, the history behind the place is what makes it so special. Over 600m long, this spot was used largely for chariot racing and other entertainment. Nowadays, it’s a public park and has held a number of concerts and celebrations. Basically, it’s a giant party place. It was cool getting to walk the entire length of it imagining the hundreds of thousands of people that the original circus had supported all piled in together to watch an event. I wish a bit more of it had survived.

Inside the Colosseo

Inside the Colosseo

Just around the corner from the circus stood my final destination: the colosseum. I can’t barely describe the excitement I felt standing in the queue to get in. Seeing the outside with John the night before was exciting, but actually being inside it, running my fingers along the ancient stone, was a whole different experience. It is such an incredible place. Like all the magnificent things I’ve seen, pictures barely do the place justice.

Since I was sadly not able to access the lower region of the colosseum, I set out as quickly as possible to exploring the hallways. On the north side the halls are filled with museum like pieces giving a nice background to the colosseum and culture of that time. I was walking the halls of a place where life and death were literal entertainment. What it might have been like to see it in it’s full glory!

Forum Romanum

Forum Romanum and Palatino

Along with the colosseum, the ticket also gives you access to the Palatino and the Forum Romanum. I had only minimal time left, but I still gave the place a good one over. I have always been fascinated by Roman history and mythology and to be walking in a place with buildings dedicated to various Gods was a beautiful experience. Most of the structures there have been around for well over 1000 years. There is a beauty in their ruined state and a tragedy as well. I wish I’d had more time to explore the ruins.

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Arco di Settimio Severo and Chiesa dei Santi Luca e Martina

I was just starting to explore the Palatino when I had to leave. I wanted to see more, but I needed something to eat before my flight and of course I was having chinese. Again. Also couldn’t risk missing my flight.

I hated that my trip had finally come to an end, but such is it. I got to see so many amazing places and make some awesome memories. I had such an incredible time. While there is still so much left to see and experience, it goes without saying that I will no doubt be visiting again in the hopefully not too distant future 😉

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