Wednesday, June 3, 2015

European Experience -- A Roman Holiday

The third and final leg of our European adventure took us to beautiful, historic and majestic Roma -- the eternal city.

Roma (often referred to as Rome) is nearly 3,000-years old. The Roman Empire ruled western civilization from 31 B.C. until 476 A.D. , and its influence continues today on many levels. 

Ancient ruins in the heart of the city
When visiting this city, you can see the glory that was (and is) Roma in architectural ruins, cathedrals, sculptures, obelisks, lavish fountains and other points of interest. Another observation is that I have never seen so many motor scooters zipping in and out of traffic (I just had to share that).

One of the first places our tour group visited was the Pantheon, which dates back to the second century. Originally a pagan shrine, it was consecrated a Christian church about 500 years later. Raphael, a renowned Renaissance painter and architect, is entombed there.

The Pantheon
Raphael's tomb

Inside the Pantheon
We also walked through the Piazza Navona, a large courtyard with lush fountains and Baroque mansions that attracts artists, musicians, peddlars, and of course, tourists. 
The Piazza Navona
Nearby is the world-famous Trevi Fountain (remember the movies "Three Coins in a Fountain" and "La Dolce Vita"?). It's undergoing a restoration that is expected to be completed this fall. Our guide told us that an estimated 1,500 or more euros are tossed daily into the fountain, which are used to help the city's needy population. 

Roma's top-rated gelato parlor
We finished our first day by stopping at Giolitti, ranked as the best gelato (Italian ice cream) parlor in Roma. An interesting aspect is that you pay first, then take your receipt to the counter and tell the server what flavor you want (banana for me, chocolate for Mary). I know it's not historic, but when in Roma, do as the Romans do. Si?

I suppose the highlights of Roma were visiting the Colosseum and the Vatican City. We were amazed at the massive size of the Colosseum -- photos really don't do it justice until you view it from the inside. Next to the Colosseum is Imperial Roma. 
At the Colosseum

Inside the Colosseum
Imperial Roma
The Vatican because of its architecture, museums and historical significance and influence in Christianity that is worldwide. There was a long line leading into St. Peter's Basilica, where you could see the ornate and timeless art of Michelangelo and others. 

St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican
St. Peter's Square at the Vatican
Other places we visited included St. Paul's Basilica and the Catacombs of Roma. You also see the Appian Way and Aurelian walls in various parts of the city.
Inside St. Paul's Basilica
Here are a few other sights from our three days in Roma:

Isola Tiberina

Bridge over Tiber River

Castel Sant'Angelo

Vendors near Castel Sant'Angelo
Piazza Venezia
 Until the next time...

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