In the summer of 2004 I went from Asuncion, Paraguay to London, England. It was so amazing -- a dream come true really. My sister Deej and I planned our first trip to Europe. That is what these pictures represent. The first day we went to the Forum and Colosseum. We had one of Rick Steves walking tours torn from a friends book and used it to walk around the Forum. I bought one of a book from one of the ubiquitous vendors around there that had photos of the ruins, with a sheet of plastic that went over it to show you what it would've looked like before its destruction. It was amazing. Between the two books we got a real idea of how the Forum was during its heyday. We got a gelato and just wandered around -- my imagination was put on fire.
The we went over to the Colosseum. Wow! It's huge, the Steves book explained to us what it was used for, it's dimensions and all that stuff. The hot guys dressed as legionnaires were out and about try to make a few lira (this was before the Euro), were out in force. Sorry no pictures of that -- we're way to cheap. We wandered all about the Colosseum, I think you can wander about a bit more then, than now. It was certainly more regulated when I visited in 2003. I do remember having to cross the street from the subway stop and it was so busy and intimidating.
One thing Rome has, which amazed us really was the wealth of statuary, bas reliefs, fountains and decorative arts -- everywhere!
Here is Deej tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain to ensure her return to Rome and the fountain. It was a long-standing tradition in Rome to build a beautiful fountain at the end of an acquaduct. You see them everywhere and they are generally very beautiful, whether large or small.
This is the Piazza del Popolo. It is one of the largest squares in Rome. We bought a drink from a vendor and sat at the Egyptian obelisk and looked at that. Twin churches, they are the Santa Maria dei Miracoli and the Santa Maria en Montesanto.
Here is the Pantheon. It was a beautiful day! The Pantheon was originally built as a temple to the gods of ancient Rome. I thought it was just one god, but according to Wikipedia -- the aribter of all things, it was built to honor all the gods. I know that at some point it was either taken down or destroyed and was rebuilt. With the advent of Christianity it was made into a church. I remember that there is a opening in the ceiling and that the floor is very gently inverted so that the water which comes in when it rains, drains away. The decoration inside is quite pretty. Apparently over the years, the marble which decorated the outside was taken away and reused in other places. The same was done with furnishing and decorations in the interior too.
The final picture is of the people in a cafe drinking coffee, looking at their guidebooks and generally relaxing. Nowadays, they'd be talking on their mobile phones or texting!
At the end of this day we went back to our pensione and rested before dinner. When we got hungry, I got off the bed to put my shoes on and my feet hurt so bad from walking around Rome that I couldn't bear the idea of walking. Deej was really nice and went to pick up some pizza for us to eat in the room. Thank you again!!
When I was in London I had read about a new mystery writer, Lindsay Davis and picked up her first two books, Silver Pigs and Shadows in Bronze. They were about the informer "private detective," Marcus Didius Falco and took place in ancient Rome. I just couldn't get into them though so I brought them to Italy, hoping I would be able to make them last a while. Well, that certainly didn't happen. I was so intrigued by what I had experienced at the Forum and Colosseum (which is where the books take place), that I just sped through them. The guidebook I had listed English language books stores and second-hand bookstores. We looked at these stores across Italy so I could feed my addiction and read more about Falco, his spouse and assistant Helena Justina, and their adventures. I'm still reading them to this day!
I had always thought the uniform of the Swiss Guard came from Michaelangelo, when he was creating the Sistine Chapel, but no. It is from the early 1900's.
This is the view from St. Peter's Basilica. Gosh, it's awfully high up, but what bothered me was the really tight, twisting staircase. It was almost not as bad going up, as going down.
Well, this was Rome, the next installment is Florence, the Cinque Terra and Venice.