Sunday, October 11, 2009

When in Rome....

Do like the Romans do. I spent the entire trip in Italy with this saying bouncing in my head. I didn't know what it meant, or where it came from, only that it seemed to make sense. Rome is unlike any other place in the world, and to survive it, you better do like the Romans do. You dart across traffic, you sit in Piazzas drinking wine, you walk down hidden alleyways to browse in antique stores. You push your way through hordes of tourists. Those poor Romans, dealing with all us tourists every year.

When I first imagined Rome, I pictured calm city streets, sprawling piazzas, fountains on every corner. I didn't imagine the motorcycles, the noise, the crowds. We started off early in the morning after sleeping on a night train from Munich. The first ruins I saw blew me away, every column a reminder of the ancient empire that dominated this region of the world.

I could have stared at them forever, imagining the bustling Romans going about their day, shopping in the Roman Forum, wandering the gardens and fountains, watching their leaders speak amid white stacked columns. This place was so charged with energy, that I could percieve it. Thousands of people lived and died here. I had a special enchantment with the trees, recognizing them from depictions I'd seen of the Roman empire.The most stunning to me was the Coliseum, perched in the distance from the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill.
We waited about 20 minutes to get inside, and then were blown away by its beauty and architecture. People used to fight brutally on this stage, with wild animals, and each other. There were complex elevator systems to lift animals as big as hippos up there. The Romans used to put criminals out with the wild animals so people could see them get ripped apart as punishment.
They installed a stage so tourists could imagine what it was like. 70-thousand people could fill this space. I tried to imagine the bleachers full of screaming and cheering Romans. Everyone had to a place to sit, depending on where they were in the social structure.

The artchitecture in Rome is phenomenal, and huge. We saw a white marble monument towering over the brown buildings, called the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele. While the French go more with romantic buildings, the Romans go with stature. This building was built in the 1800's, which makes it relatively new, compared to the ruins that were built thousands of years ago.
Next we went onto the Vatican, which was another large structure in Rome. You can see its dome from a distance, and it's incredible to visualize all the power stemming from this small cluster of buildings. Vatican City is run by it's own team and government separate from Italy.
You have to go through a security line to get into the Vatican. The women have to be very mindful of what they wear. No tank tops, no short skirts.

My favorite part of Rome was to be Piazza Navona. It's a slender Piazza lined with restaurants, with an obelisk in the center, and a marble fountain. When we went, it was full of art and flowers. We sat at a restaurant and drank wine, and ate.There must have been an Egyptian obelisk in every major Piazza in Rome, including at the Vatican. I think this is interesting, because it's not a Christian symbol. The obelisk at the Vatican was created 13-hundred years before Jesus was born. There was also an incredible obelisk in Piazza Popolo.

The Pantheon is also an amazing sight. This has been around over 2,000 years, and is what the Jefferson Monument in Washington, DC. So much of our architecture we know today was modeled after the Romans and the Greeks.

It was quite the rush seeing all these sights in just a day and a half, but David and I had to get out of there. The tourists crammed every major sight like it was a ride at Disneyland, and after awhile, I couldn't handle it. We took an hour and a half high speed train up to Florence, which was equally packed, but calmed down during the course of our trip. Italy was overall incredible, with delicious food, amazing architecture, and so much history. Plus I love listening to the Italian.
And I learned that When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do, is a hundreds year old saying. It referred to religion. I can't wait to go back.


Colleen said...

How fun! Kris really loved Rome, too. Thanks for taking such great pictures! Now I want to go!

Abigail Bernd said...

OMG! The history there is so amazing!

Travis said...

love Rome, absolutely love it. After London its probably my favorite european city. Glad you went and glad you saw so much!!!