Monday, October 20, 2008

Day 10: When in Rome...

It was our last morning at the hotel, so I took full advantage of the fruit served for breakfast. My plate was overflowing with it, since I didn’t know when the next time would be that I’d have such delicious fruit to eat.

After breakfast we left immediately, since we had so much to do. It’s amazing how quickly time passes in Rome. You walk into a building, and the next thing you know, two hours have gone by. Before hitting the sites though, we first locked up our luggage in the highly unpleasant smelling lockers at the train station. (And kept our fingers crossed the rest of the day that our clothes wouldn’t end up smelling like urine).

We had made a mental outline of our day, and put a time limit on how long we’d spend at each location. That was shattered before we even got started. We ended up taking a tour of the Coliseum, skipping the hour and a half long line, but it also gave us a free tour of Palatino… thus shifting our schedule entirely.
If I had to choose one thing to see in Rome before we got there, it would have been the Coliseum. Thankfully I didn’t have to only see one thing, but I wouldn’t have been disappointed if it were the only place we had gone to visit. It was an absolutely incredible site, and an absolutely magnificent structure. It only took 8-10 years to build, it could hold over 50,000 people, and if an emergency evacuation was needed, those 50,000+ people could be cleared out in about 5 minutes. Unfortunately portions of it were destroyed later on by the Roman priests who were trying to rid the city of paganism. After the tour, we had 15 minutes to walk around and take pictures before our next tour would begin. Although it wasn’t much time, we snuck in a few shots, and were off.
We had the most interesting and entertaining tour through Palatino. I’m sure I would have loved history in school if I had teachers like our guide. Palatino is the oldest remaining section of Rome. “Back in the day” it was a marble masterpiece. The Romans wanted their city to look like those in Greece, but they were quite resourceful (and money conscious), so all the buildings were made out of brick and mortar, with a thin marble façade. The guide said she was quite sure that if the same Roman priests who destroyed parts of the coliseum didn’t rip the marble façade from the buildings in Palatino for the Vatican, then more of those buildings would have still been standing today.
It was nearing the middle of the afternoon, and we had only checked off 2 items on our list. So, we quickly made our way over to the Sistine Chapel, since it was closed the day before. We arrived there right as the museum doors were closing, and pleaded with the guards to let us in. It was quite neat to see the artwork of some of the great masters of the Renaissance period: Michelangelo and Raphael. I couldn’t help but wonder who decided which painting should get more acclaim than the other. There were so many beautiful paintings that are hardly, if at all, known to the general public. We had to walk through the museum quicker than we would have liked, since we only had an hour and a half before we were kicked out. We ended up reaching the chapel 20 minutes before closing time, and sat on the chairs that lined the walls and looked up until we were told to leave.
With only a few small hours left in Rome, we couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend it then to eat a nice meal. The night before we found a great square with a few restaurants, and many artists displaying, selling, and painting their work. So, we went back… and ended up having the worst meal of our entire trip. Having only eaten a few bites of what the restaurant called food, we searched for gelato to fill us up instead. At least this way we were able to walk around the city before our train. The sun had set, and we were able to enjoy our last few moments in Rome at its prettiest… in the dark, when you can’t see the dirt.


kelley said...

I'm crying as I read these posts. Just so you know.

Jenny and Jake said...

Wow, those places look amazing! I am so glad I can live vicariously through your adventures you post on your blog. What awesome history!