Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weekending Roman-style (how Wifi and geocaching saved our last night in Italy)

Two weeks ago Running Man and I were doing the whole tourist thing in Rome and getting ready to head home to the States.  Before more time passes, I thought that I would share some highlights from that weekend.

On Saturday we slept in and then took the metro downtown to see some of the major tourist sites.  Rome is an amazing city and everywhere we looked we saw palaces, and churches, and fountains, and was more than I could possibly take in during one trip, so I tried to just enjoy what I could absorb.

We started at the Colosseum.

I was amazed to learn that they used to fill the Colosseum with water and hold naval battles there.  How did they get that much water and ships in there?!?

Next we went to the Palatine Hill (an area that over looks both the Coliseum and the Roman Forum where the rulers of ancient Rome built their palaces).

These red poppies caught my eye every time I saw them because I remember loving them as a child when we lived in Naples.

Can you see that little critter in there?

Here's a close up.  The best description I could come up with is a big ass hedgehog.  I don't actually think that it is a hedgehog (big assed or not), but I don't have any other ideas.  Does anyone else out there know what this is?

We passed through the Forum Romanum.

We went on to the Monument Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele (you can see it in the background of the first Roman Forum photo).

Of course, we had to stop for some Italian gelato.

The Fontana di Trevi might have been my favorite stop for the day (even if we spent the least amount of time there).

My favorite part of the Pantheon was the fact that it is open to the sky.

Despite Running Man's sore knee,  we walked up the Spanish Steps.

Rome from the top of the Spanish Steps.

On Sunday, our last full day in Rome, we went to the Vatican to see St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.  Unfortunately, for that day only, the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel closed mid-afternoon, so we didn't get to see them.  I was okay with that, because - by not knowing about the early closing before/when we first got there - we started the day slowly and we didn't rush through St. Peter's.

The scale of St. Peter's is unbelievable.  I've been lucky enough to see some magnificent churches and cathedrals while traveling in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Italy, but the sheer size of St. Peter's (which reportedly has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world) is mind boggling.

I received a minor in Medieval and Renaissance in school and to see Michelangelo's Pieta in person was a dream. 

Although not open to the elements like the Pantheon, St. Peter's had these amazing domes up one side and down the other - the way that sunlight shone in was magical.

Look - it is another dome!

And another....

And...well, you get the point.

If I thought Running Man was a trooper for hoofing it up the Spanish Steps with his sore knee, that's nothing compared to walking up more than 500 stairs to the top of the cupola (with a quick stop in the gallery on the way up).

Check out the big dome from up in the gallery.  No worries, I won't make you look at all of the pictures I took of it!

The mosaics along the gallery were, as you might expect, magnificent.

A view of the St. Peter's Square from the top of the cupola. 
In the foreground you can see the top of one of the small domes that I love from the interior view so much.  The big dome, and the cupola, is in the background.

Can you see folks enjoying the view from the top of the cupola?

How about now?

Our final destination was to the Via Appia (I would tell you that it is an ancient Roman road of great historical import, Running Man would tell you that it is a road).

I had hoped to visit one of the catacombs that can be found along the Appian Way and eat at a restaurant that my folks highly recommended from a visit five years ago.  Good in theory, but not so much in practice.  This would be where my laid back, let's-just-roll-with-it approach (i.e. don't plan ahead and just hope that it all comes together) that worked so well for the rest of the trip didn't pan out.  By the time we found ourselves walking along the historic, um, road the catacombs had already closed and the restaurant was more than two hours away from opening.

How did we figure this out without walking the additional 2+ miles that would have been required to actually get there to either location?  Luckily, and randomly, we stumbled upon a municipal building that offered free Wifi.  Between the Wifi and iPhones were able to figure out that sticking with our original "plan" would leave us stuck out there twiddling our thumbs waiting for several hours before the restaurant would open.  Instead we looked up several geocaches that were along the walk back towards the metro and we turned an decidedly stressful evening into one that was truly enjoyable.

Never mind watching out for muggles (non-geocaching folk), on this trip it was more important to watch out for pigeons.

Here's to many happy trails to us all, be they close to home or a world away...happy weekend, friends!

"Half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness."  ~Ray Bradbury

1 comment:

  1. Love the pictures..and the quote at the end. You are going to have to teach me more about this geo-caching!