After the miles of walking in Chicago and London plus more miles in wet shoes our first day in Rome, my feet were pretty sad. I luckily avoided any blisters, but I had the precursor hot spots and rather absurdly large swollen ankles.
Having tender, sore feet on vacation is a burden and a bit of a letdown. But in what can be an overwhelming city like Rome, I definitely think it aided in our really experiencing the city instead of zooming around from one famous site to the next. Even though I had to hobble down the cobbled lanes, the slower pace allowed us to better appreciate the beauty and feel the rhythm of the places we saw.
On our second morning in Rome, we spent some extra time prepping. With items from one of Jeff’s first aid kits (yes, one of them) he carefully taped and bandaged my battered feet to mitigate any further damage. But that only did so much to alleviate the pain, so there was also plenty of popping pills, resting, and elevating throughout the day.
This day was a far cry from the damp dreariness the day before. It was sunny and warm and beautiful. The kind of weather you picture when you think of Rome.
We hopped off the bus at the Colosseum and it looked perfect against the bright blue sky.
Since we lost a day trying to get to Rome (stay tuned for that story later on), and to save my feet, it made sense to do what I call The Façade Tour – only seeing museums and monuments from the outside. It is, of course, not the ideal situation to not go inside and experience more of the Colosseum or some of the other sites, but it worked for us at the time and for our needs.
It definitely wasn’t the plan when we arrived, but in a way I’m kind of glad it worked out like that. Plus we got to spend some of the extra money that we saved on entrance fees to then spend on souvenirs and more gelato.
We could have spent 3 hours in line just to get into the Colosseum, so because we skipped that, we also had time to admire the Arch of Constantine. It was dedicated in 312 A.D. after Constantine won the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, an important travel route across the Tiber River.
It holds particular significance as it is said that that battle marked the beginning of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity. It is recorded that Constantine and his soldiers had a vision from God promising victory if they scribed onto their shields the sign of the Chi-Rho, the first two letters of Christ’s name in Greek. When the battle was won, Constantine felt it had been possible only through the divine intervention given, and so began his conversion.
Since the Roman Forum is part of the Colosseum entrance ticket, we had to skip that too, but luckily we were able to see it from a path that winds up above. From that path, there are also great views of the Colosseum and Arch.
One of the greatest things that I inherited from my mother is my love of plants and flowers and trees, so I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my favorite parts of the Colosseum – the umbrella pines. As you can see in the pictures above, these pines are groomed to their quintessential shape all throughout Rome, but the thick grove surrounding the area around the Colosseum are among my favorites.
From there we jumped back on the bus and headed to Piazza Navona.
Once an ancient circus arena where Romans came to watch the games. Now, unfortunately, you’ll mostly find pushy immigrant workers hawking their knock-off purses and, of course, the obnoxious selfie stick. Jeff joked about buying one just so they’d see we already had one and would just leave us alone. Luckily Bernini’s fountain was a beautiful distraction.
It was nearing lunchtime as we made our way toward the Pantheon. We stopped for pizza and our first cup of gelato. I am so glad that gelato is completely deserving of all the hype and praise everyone gives it. It really is that good.
As per our usual, I love the creamy and chocolatey flavors and Jeff is all about the fruity sorbets. Although I do think that lemon and dark chocolate make a pretty good pairing.
The Pantheon is simply amazing. It’s sheer size makes me figure it would be a difficult building to construct in this day and age, but to know that it is nearly 2000 years old is almost unbelievable.
The numbers are staggering. The 16 massive Corinthian columns are 60 tons a piece. They were quarried in Egypt and drug 62 miles from the quarry to the Nile River. Then floated down the river and transferred to ships for passage across the Mediterranean. And then transferred back to barges that were pulled up the Tiber, and then drug another half mile to this site.
And that wasn’t even the hard part. The hard part was the dome. I could go on and on about how amazingly difficult this building was to construct, but you’d be better off Googling it.
In its presence, I found it rather hard not to be overwhelmed by how old it is, how big, how complex, how intricate, how well preserved, etc. Jeff has said that he thinks that we use the word awesome to casually and liberally. That meal or new clothes might be nice, but they’re not awesome – they don’t inspire awe. This, however, this is the epitome of awesome.
We stuck around outside for quite a while. It’s a great place to people watch. Then we decided to head back to our guesthouse early to rest my feet and pack for Florence.
Our place was so lovely. My review of it on hotels.com may have sounded more like a love sonnet than a hotel review.
Our room was perfect and relaxing. The stocked kitchen made for great midnight snacks of cake and milk. But the gorgeous views of the courtyard were my favorite. Okay, maybe the cake and milk, but I loved the courtyard too.
Before heading upstairs, we lingered in the garden admiring the trees and flowers and architecture in the late afternoon sun.
That top window with green shutters was ours. Lovely, isn’t it? We liked it so much that we decided that when we go back to Rome, we won’t even bother looking at any other accommodations.
With some rest and packing finished, we walked around the neighborhood for a bit and then settled on a place for dinner. After some pizza and a little hand lettering on my paper placemat, we ended the day as I feel everyone should, with a cup of gelato in hand.
Stay tuned for our next update: Florence
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