Nov 30, 2011

After finally getting used to the small size of Florence, it was then time to move on to Rome! It was a short hour and a half train ride into Roma Termini, right in the heart of the city. Rome’s heart beats much faster than Florence’s, and there always seemed to be a flurry of activity no matter what time you were out walking the streets. We settled in at the Mosaic Hostel which was only a few blocks from Termini, and began to plan our trip. 

Rome itself is so much to take in. The city is so rich in history and artifacts that it is nearly impossible to try and see them all in a short period of time. If we’d had the entire two and a half weeks to Rome itself, it might have been possible. It is overwhelming at first to walk up to these monuments that are older than you can even imagine. It is hard to wrap your mind around it at first! The Pantheon and Colosseum, both nearly 2,000 years old apiece with their well worn marble, smoothed from millions of footsteps over the years. The sheer size of them is amazing as well, a huge feat in engineering, given the tools that the ancient Romans had to work with. Pretty humbling stuff. 

The beautiful and well kept monuments were a stark contrast to the rest of the city, which was seemingly forgotten about. Trash was abundant on the streets, and graffiti was everywhere. I suppose when dealing with a city infrastructure that is going on 2,000 years old, such simple things as trash organization can be a big deal. 

We ate dinner mostly in Trastevere, a neighborhood on the west side of Rome, known for its small labyrinth like streets and great restaurants tucked into small buildings in alleyways. The food in Trastevere did not disappoint, and every night was another great dinner, different from the previous yet all amazing in their own right. Could it have been the 6 euro bottle of table wine that influenced my opinion on the food? Possibly, but either way, it was all great .

It was hard to put my camera down in this city, where at every corner was a spectacular monument that I wanted to capture for later. Hopefully the photos convey what we were seeing in those few days in Rome!

At the end of our tour in Rome, we boarded a plane at Fuimicino Airport destined for Barcelona and a whole different experience. More to come on the Spanish leg of our tour on the next blog posting!


 Ashleigh with Anubis, the Egyptian god of the afterlife at the Vatican. Our room in the Mosaic Hostel was fairly large (by hostel standards), but the beds were very much hostel quality. The location was great, only a few blocks from Termini and all the big metro stops. 

The subways in Rome were a bit dirtier than I’d remembered from my last trip. Perhaps it was all the unrest with the government that caused them to be neglected? Who knows? Either way, I was able to capture one subway train on video, which was COMPLETELY covered in graffiti from top to bottom. 

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Ancient writing carved into stone walls. Roman ruins were seemingly on every corner, just a normal sight for Romans, but amazing for us. The Pantheon in the Piazza della Rotunda, standing tall after all these years. 

A video inside the Pantheon, which turns 2,000 years old in 115 years!

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Images from the Colosseum on a day where the weather couldn’t make up its mind. Sun? Rain? Clouds?

A video inside the Colosseum

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These were taken while walking through the Roman Forum near the Colosseum. Very cool to see things like this frozen in time, just like they were nearly 2,000 years prior. 

More views from the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Also, Ashleigh with her audioguide making her way through the Colosseum’s interior!

A wide view of the Roman Forum, as viewed from inside the Colosseum. 

The Trevi Fountain, one of the most picturesque stops on our entire trip. the White marble contrasted so well with the perfect sapphire color of the water. Completed in 1762, it is said that the Trevi Fountain was constructed on the grounds of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct, which brought water in from some twelve and a half miles from Rome. The girl who apparently found the spring is carved into the reliefs on the fountain, pointing towards the spring. Ashleigh is seen throwing a coin over her shoulder into the fountain, a sign of good luck and a promise that you will return to Rome someday. 

At the Trevi Fountain, right before the skies opened up on us!

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Set in the Piazza de Spagna, the Spanish Steps rise up steeply to the Trinita dei Monti church. Great high end shopping in the surrounding areas, if you can afford it! All the big names, LV, Farragamo, Valentino, Prada and more. Also, one more shot of the Trevi Fountain for good measure.

Now onto the Vatican! A country in it’s own right, the Vatican has its own government, police force and post office. Surrounded by tall walls, this small country lets in a select number of people each day to tour its grounds and museums. We arrived just in time for the skies to open up, as seen in the photo to the right, featuring the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in the distance. 

The level of detail in the design and architecture in the Vatican is amazing. No surface, vertical or horizontal, is left unadorned. The photo on the bottom left is the hallway to the Sistine Chapel, every inch of its ceiling covered with ornate gold and amazing paintings. At the top left is what I called the “Easter Egg” inside St. Peter’s. More details to the right of that photo, all painstakingly carved. It’s just too much to think about the work that went into something like that. 

This is the widest possible view I could photograph upon walking into St. Peter’s. The size of this place is incredible, and you truly have to see it for yourself to appreciate it. Designed by Michelangelo, he sought to make the interior more inviting by bringing down the scale of the huge building to the human eye. The lettering you can see in the videos below is over six feet high, yet it seems much smaller in person. It was a great job to make such a huge space feel comfortable and not cavernous.

A poorly shot view of the interior of Saint Peter’s. The video seems to convey the massive size of this building better than the photos can.

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And a choir singing, just after dark while it rains outside in the Piazza…just about as close to a religious experience as you could ever get!

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At left is the winding walkway down to the exit of the Vatican. I loved the lines of this staircase and am really happy with how this one turned out! Below that is another wide shot if the interior of St. Peter’s, with Michaelangelo’s Pieta next to it. Completed when he was only 24 years old (where the hell did I go wrong? Haha), Michaelangelo later described it as the finest block of marble he’d ever worked with. It is amazing in person, and the detail is so fine that you expect them both to move at any moment. To the right of that is a stitched vertical shot of St. Peter’s that I took to better show the massive scale. 

After walking to St. Peter’s in the pouring rain, both Ashleigh and I were complete soaked due to faulty cheap umbrellas, with water inside our shoes. Very ready for a hot shower and a nap, we were anxious to get home. As we walked away from the Piazza San Petro, I turned around and saw this image. I was hesitant to get out my camera due to the rain and our soaked bodies, but I decided that this shot would be worth it in the long run. And now, a few weeks later, I am extremely happy that I took the time to photograph this scene, as it came out just the way I’d seen it on that rainy night. 

Our last day in Rome, we walked down to the famous Piazza Navona, where there is usually a large congregation of people just hanging out and enjoying the weather. With the rain finally gone, today was perfect, and the piazza was packed. We were greeted by a full band playing Frank Sinatra as soon as we walked into the piazza, which fit perfectly with everyone’s mood and the weather. We sat on a nearby bench for a while and just enjoyed it all. Below is a photo of the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, designed in 1651 by Gianlorenzo Bernini for Pope Innocent X. Its intricated carvings depict four river gods with an Egyptian obelisk rising above them. To the right was one of the many street artists, this one gathering a large crowd with his spraypaint and stencil work, 

The Piazza Esedra, off Via Nazionale at night. Near our hostel and Roma Termini, we passed this amazing traffic circle nearly every night on the way to Trastevere for dinner. I wanted to get a long exposure shot of the piazza because it actually reminded me a lot of Las Vegas (or what I think of Las Vegas, having never been). Europeans sure are fond of symmetry!

And our last day in Rome at the Piazza Navona on a cool, sun-drenched day. 

Live entertainment at the Piazza Navona on a perfect day. We were just happy to sit and listen for a while, wishing we had all day to waste!

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