Saturday, 1 August 2015

Visiting Italy: Rome

Arriving in Rome saw us landing straight in the middle of the action. Within a few hours, we had stumbled across an amazing church which we later found out to be Basilica di San Giovanni which was the main place of worship for the Pope up until the 14th century! It seemed to be that every place we were to discover in Rome was steeped in history.

One of our first stops was the Colosseum. Over the years I've seen plenty of pictures, in the same way as you see many of the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty and so seeing it in real life was a bit of a shock but also weirdly underwhelming. Although being rather large, it was smaller than I was expecting. It was also surrounded by roads and pedestrianised walkways which, although obviously practical for a building in the middle of a city, wasn't what I was expecting.

It was only when I went inside that I appreciated just how incredible the Colosseum was. As we walked around, the sheer scale became apparent - we could see right down into some of the uncovered tunnel which wound themselves under the building, where gladiators, convicts and wild animals roamed before their fights. 

A short walk from the Colosseum, there's an impressive array of ruins still in the process of being uncovered. These were the Roman Forum and the Palatino.

Everywhere we walked however, we bumped into something spectacular. There was something to see on every corner!

The Pantheon was incredible on the inside and the surrounding area was fun to wander around. Unfortunately though, the near by Trevi Fountain was being restored and so was covered by scaffolding. 

One day, we hopped on Rome's metro and headed over to the Vatican.  The Vatican Museum itself is amazing although going around, you felt that you were just in one giant queue. The ceilings were incredibly painted and there were stunning statues and paintings everywhere. Eventually, we made it around to the Sistine Chapel which was rather beautiful, but admittedly, just as beautiful as the rest of the building!

However, it was St Peter's Square that was the most striking. Huge statues posed on the roof tops, guarding the square's parameter whilst fountains splashed merrily. 

Close to the Vatican was Castel Sant'Angelo, a castle which was originally built as a mausoleum to Emperor Hadrian and later converted into a papal fortress. We walked around the battlements and down into the belly of the fortress, meeting a very friendly seagull along the way. 

Rome was unlike any city I've ever visited before- everywhere we went, we noticed something that had sprung straight out of a history book. Seeing all the ruins was definitely fascinating and, despite melting under the boiling hot sun as we walked around, an experience not to be missed!  

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