Monday, June 28, 2010

Europe Trip 2010, Part 8: When In Rome

We spent our second and third days in Rome seeing a variety of amazing sites.

We woke up early on the second day and rode the Metro and bus out to the Appian way to see the Catacombs of San Callisto.

The Catacombs are where the early Roman Christians were burred in secrets because the were persecuted for their faith.

Our city bus driver dropped us off in the beautiful countryside near the catacombs and we took a lovely morning walk through the Appian Way pedestrian path.

We located Callisto, got in line, and then headed down underground for our tour.

We went down into the Catacombs to the oldest level. Beside the tombs there are really interesting old artifacts, symbols, and other items that early Christians left in the Catacombs. Our tour guides explained the secret symbols and told us stories of the early Roman Christians worshiping in secret. It was so cool to see the early foundations of our Christian faith. It definitely strengthened my faith to think of early Christians, not long after the time of Jesus, risking their lives to follow Him.

After our underground tour we got back on the public bus to Rome.

We took the train to the Trevi Fountain. It was JUST how I pictured it! I love how it's kind of "tucked away" between building.

We wrestled for space near the crowded fountain and I threw my penny in behind my back.

Then we went on to the Pantheon.

To me, the Pantheon was simply stunning! One my favorite things in Rome.

It was built around the same time as the Colosseum, which makes it around 2000 years old. But it never fell into disrepair because it went from being a pagan temple dedicated to all gods to a Christian Church dedicated to all martyrs.

What really blew us away was the mathematical precision. It's a marvel of symmetry and shapes -- all done before computers or modern mathematics. The Pantheon is so perfect that it served as the model for the Florence Duomo and even the United States Capitol Building.

The stunning pillar of light that comes through the oculus is the only light source in the building. And it's beautiful.

Next we walked down to Largo di Torre Argentina. Largo di Torre Argentina is a square in that hosts the ruins of four Republican Roman temples and the remains of Pompey's Theater.

But what's the coolest thing (to me) about Largo Argentina is the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, a no-kill shelter for homeless cats. (Yes, I'm a little bit of a crazy cat lady)

Literally the ruins are inhabited by Roman cats.

As if cats don't have enough of a God-complex already!

I even went down into the ruins to meet the people who run the shelter and pets some of the adorable kitties who are up for adoption.

What a great, humane way to treat stray cats!

Then we walked over to Piazza Navona to see Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers.

Rick Steves helped us to decode all the symbolism in the statue.

Then it was time to meet up with my parents who had just flown into Rome to spend the final days of our vacation with us.

We celebrated by sharing prosecco and a light dinner near the Spanish steps, and called it a night!

On our third day in Rome, we started with National Museum of Rome (free for us as part of our Roma pass). I read to my parents and the Mr. from Rick Steves guide. It was so interesting to learn about the Greeks and the Romans. We saw tons of great old statues and mosaics.

The Mr. threw discus in high school, so he admired this guy...

Then we walked over to the Baths of Diocletian. These were the grandest of the public baths in Rome. They remained in use as baths until the aqueducts that fed them were cut by the Goths in 537 A.D. Then they became a Church.

After the baths we had lunch at snack bar in Piazza della Republica.

I loved seeing how tiny Roman gas stations are! I guess it's because most of the cars and vespas are tiny.

We then walked through the Borghese Park and went to the Museum of Modern Art, which was cool but nothing to write home about.

For happy hour we took a bus down to Campo de Fiore and enjoyed drinks al fresco on the beautiful plaza.

The craziest thing is that we saw a mime get into a fist fight with guitar player. I guess they were having a turf war over which street performer could perform in the plaza. Another mime broke the fight up. Hilarious.

Then went to a great dinner at another small plaza near by Campo de Fiore (I wish I could remember the name). Our concierge had recommended it and it was really cute. We sat outdoors and enjoyed yummy meats, cheeses, spaghetti a la carbonara, lamb, and wine.

You might remember from when we went to Boston that I love cannoli, so you can imagine that I was in heaven with this authentic pistachio cannoli!

Next up? The Vatican!

Just joining the Europe recaps? See them all here.


Classy Fab Sarah said...

Seeing your pics makes me want to fly off to Europe immediately!

And speaking of Rick Steves... you are never going to believe this, but my BFFs and I partied with him and his family in a bar once. His son (or maybe nephew??) graduated college the same day we did... and lo and behold we ran into him in a dive bar in South Bend. What are the chances, right?

PS He and his family were totally nice.

Tara Gibson said...

looks A M A Z I N G! love thie pics

Katie said...

so great that you could meet up with your parents!

mjellis said...

I love these trip updates - so fun! You guys got some great pics!

There is an award for you on my blog : )

Hope you have a great week!

Lil' Woman said...

I love your recaps and all your pictures....look like so much!!

Belle said...

Ugh! Can I just pack it up and go now!?

What a stunning place! And how fun to have your parents join in for a few days!

Crazy Shenanigans said...

I am TOTALLY jealous of this leg of your trip!!!! The pictures are great!

Fabiola said...

I am just catching up on your Europe Recap. The pictures make me want to plan another trip to Europe ; )

Becky said...

Looks like you are loving Rome! With all of the time I spent there, I never went to the catacombs. I guess I will just have to go back! I lived steps away from Torre Argentina and would go visit the kitties after class. I just love them!

~Mrs. Guru~ said...

Looks like so much fun!

Kate said...

Was the restaurant where you had dinner with the cannoli called Santa Lucia? My fiance and I had dinner at a place that looked just like that in Rome last year and it was so cute and so good. We stayed in an apartment right off the Campo de Fiori and your pictures are bringing me right back to that trip.

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