This the last of the blog posts about Rome. I imagine you have enjoyed them due to the picture/text balance which is normally way out of whack but this time is finally somewhat tolerable. Don’t pretend you weren’t thinking that.
We really liked Rome. I liked Rome a lot more than I thought I would. I thought it would be a “See it, do it, check the box, get ‘er done, get out” kind of city (like Naples) but it really wasn’t. I could spend a lot more time in Rome and Haley, of all people, also said she would like to spend more time there. She is not a city girl so for her to make that statement you know it has to be something good.
The thing that struck me about Rome was that it was a major city that was…charming. You wonder how a city of 4 million people can be charming but I think it was that Rome had no interest in living in the future. Sure, we had great internet and modern conveniences but the city itself was far from modern. We saw no skyscrapers, no modern buildings, no bright and shiny techy offices. Just a lot of old, quaint buildings that are being used for current-day needs. A gorgeous old building had a pharmacy on the bottom floor. Or a department store nestled into it. Even the way they made no apologies for the crazy way the streets were laid out, some of them turning unexpectedly into one-ways or just dead ends. Even that was charming. Ok, so sometimes it made us crazy but for the most part it was sweet.
The other thing I liked about Rome is that it felt very authentic. It did not have much separation between the tourist part and the real part. It was all real. Romans loved the parts that tourists loved. And you could get a feel for all of it just by walking around. You didn’t have to seek out tourist places, pay an entrance fee and then, finally, be transported back in time. Just being outside you were in the real Rome, what felt like old Rome. I would have loved to hire a driver just to drive around. Anywhere, everywhere. Just drive. It was all so interesting to me.
Here are a few last points of interest from our week-long visit…
The same day we did the Colosseum family tour (read: let the kids color while a guide talks at them and bill it as a family tour which costs extra), we also checked out The Forum with the same group.
Funny thing happened on the way to the Forum….
Yeah, I know. I had to do it. Sorry. But indeed it’s true! We had another family taking the tour with us. They had Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa and two younger boys. But as soon as Dan saw the dad, he thought he recognized him as a YouTube personality that he follows. So while walking to the gates, behind the tour guide, Dan walked up next to the other dad and the conversation went something like this:
Dan: “You know, you look like someone I follow on YouTube”
Other dad: “Oh yeah, what’s his name?”
Dan: “I can’t remember”
Other dad: “Is he good?”
Dan: “Well, I follow him, so he must be good”
[both dads laugh]
Anyway, the other dad finally admitted that he was indeed that YouTube Guy. The dads then lingered back most of the time and just talked about mutual interests. Seeing as how the tour was directed to the kiddos anyway, it was kind of nice for the adults to have some like-minded company. In case you’re wondering who it was, you can see one of his videos here.
The Forum is a lot harder to grasp than most other sites in Rome. The short version is that it was the center for Roman government at some point, as well as kind of a ‘downtown’ area at the same time as well as other times. The guide admitted that it was difficult to really know what the Forum looked like because at any given time it was changing. Depending on who was in power and who supported it’s flourishing and who didn’t, it looked very different. So it really was a lot of layers of history that you had to imagine. It was probably the least preserved of all the ruins, but the guide had a great book that showed how the ruins look today with an overlay of how they looked in their original state at various periods in time. We have a similar book that we’ve been enjoying and was an excellent visual to understanding ancient ruins. Pompeii, take note, you need a layering book! As much as we don’t like to buy physical books, we are finding them very useful for another information source. Zoe, in particular, loves guide books.
Obelisks… so many obelisks. Rome liked to pluck obelisks from Egypt and put them up in their squares. This one is in Vatican City. Having something with such significance from far away showed your wealth and power, I guess. There were so many of them. This one in particular, according to folklore, is the obelisk that was standing across from St. Peter when he was crucified upside down very near where the Vatican City is today. They moved it over to its current position in the 16th century to make it the center of St. Peter’s Square. It was also the obelisk that was at the center of the area where Nero persecuted Christians for entertainment purposes. Here is some background on it, for your reading pleasure. We didn’t get our own picture for some reason. Probably because we were too busy looking up with our mouths open, fascinated at the long history of this place.
First, this was a temple to the Greek gods, then a church (Romans to Greeks: We’ll take your Greek gods and raise you one!). It had a pretty cool dome with a great big hole open to the sky. It was really nice, partly because it was so quick and easy to see. Raphael the painter (not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle) is buried here. This is the building that used to be covered in bronze, which was then repurposed over at St Peter’s Basilica to use for decoration of Peter’s burial site. (Pope to Pantheon: Mine!)
Roaming Roman Streets
As you wander around Rome you just find interesting things so here are a few for you to enjoy.
So there you have it. Rome in III hot, easy steps. Rome was our longest stop of all 5 cities in Italy during this period of fast travel. We had a great Airbnb, we had a nice balance of tours and independent exploring, we had great gelato and we liked Roman pizza more than Napoli pizza. So Rome was a surprising thumbs up from the Shermanos.
Hang on for the ride, we’ve got 3 more Italian cities in about 9 days. I desperately want to tell you all about the stuff we are learning, how it all fits together, how it’s all so interesting. But my brain so full, surely all I will be able to muster is a few pictures with captions. You can look forward to it!