January 30, 2012

European Honeymoon Cruise, Part 2: Rome

{Read part one here.}

Our very first port of call on our dream honeymoon was none other than the legendary city of beauty and romance: Rome!

Our cruise ship had lots of excursion packages available at each port of call, but we felt perfectly confident taking on the vast and sprawling city of Rome, just the two of us.

Why? Because the semester I studied abroad in France, a friend and I spent our week-long Spring Break here in beautiful Roma. We literally walked the entire city several times over, so I knew it's layout well. I also still had my handy map of Rome from back then, which would help keep us on track.

Matt and I had mapped out our day in Rome the night before. I let Matt choose where he wanted to go and what he wanted to see since I had been there before. Our time was going to be pretty limited and there is just so much to do and see in Rome, so Matt really had to be specific. I was perfectly fine with whatever he wanted to do and I was getting a kick out of getting to play "tour guide" again.

Our ship docked at the coastal city of Ostia, Italy. Since Rome isn't right along the coast {but not too far}, we had to take a 45 minute train ride to get into the heart of the city. On the way there, my little heart was fluttering with excitement at the thought of getting to experience this gorgeous, historical city again, and share in it's beauty with the love of my life.

We arrived to the central train station in Rome and from there, started to make our way towards the iconic symbol of Rome--the Colosseum. We zig-zaged through tiny, cobblestoned streets, marking our way on the map of Rome I held in hand. {nothing says "tourist" quite like wandering a city with a big map in one's hands, right?}

Finally, we were there. I love this area of Rome not only for the Colosseum, but because it is the heart of ancient Rome itself. Of course one can find ancient Roman structures scattered throughout the city, but here is where the highest concentration of ruins lie.

I only took this one photo of the Colosseum because I already have oodles of photos from my first visit to Rome. And....we were at an angle that didn't provide the ideal view of the structure. See?

It's still impressive, but one can't see much of the beautiful facade of the Colosseum from this angle.

Matt decided it wasn't a priority for him to go inside the Colosseum, as long as he saw it from the outside. I agreed--the inside is wonderful, but the entrance fee is pricey and with the lines to get inside, we would have sacrificed quite a lot of our precious time.

With our backs to the Colosseum, we made our way up the Via Sacra {via means "street"} and as we came to the top of this short, ancient road, we saw this:

Isn't Rome just magical?!

We then made a short, steep descent into the Roman Forum. This is where one can walk through an area which was once the vibrant center of the ancient city. The archaeologist in me adores this place. Here is where all the important government buildings of the Roman Republic were located. The Senate and the Republican government were formed here. It was also the center of public life in Rome, as processions, speeches, trials, and other public events were held here.

It's a bit hard to imagine now, but this once was a most glorious, grand sight to see.

Matt with the Forum in the background, as well as Palatino hill:

From there, we made our way along one of Rome's busiest streets, past the Piazza Venezia, and then down some narrow, quieter streets, until we came to another of Rome's famous site's--the Trevi Fountain.

The Trevi fountain is gorgeous--a sight to behold. And the legend goes that if one throws a coin into the fountain over his or her shoulder, it will ensure that individual's return to the great city of Rome one day. Matt and I both did so, for good measure.

About to throw the coin over his shoulder...

Our next stop was to visit the great Pantheon, an ancient Roman building still fully intact. It is breathtaking and to this day, it has the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. Unfortunately I didn't get many good pictures of it on this visit because it had started to rain at that point, but I do have better pictures I'll share when I revisit my first trip to Rome.

Here we are at the Pantheon, sheltering from the rain. We had just stopped in a little pizzeria off a tiny side street and ordered some of the most delicious pizza. True, Italian pizza, with a hand-tossed, thin dough, and the perfect Roma tomato sauce, cheese and basil. Really no words can describe it other than sheer bliss.

Miraculously, after we had finished enjoying the Pantheon's interior, the rain stopped! And we saw not a drop for the rest of our day in Rome.

One of my absolute favorite things in Rome is walking through the many tiny and utterly charming side streets.

The sounds of the city fade away and all is quiet. The buildings are full of character, quirks, and the most subtle beauties.

I found this enchanting door and declared that if I were to ever live in Rome one day, this would be the door to my home.

After a lot of walking {whilst enjoying some delectable gelato, no less!} and simply taking in all the magnificence of Rome, we found ourselves at the Tiber River.

The Tiber river is nothing lovely to look at; in fact, it's gross. It's full of algae and garbage. But then again, I'm not surprised, since this river has been home to the center of civilization for thousands of years. It does add character, that's certain.

Our final stop in Rome was to none other than Vatican City.

Sadly, we didn't have enough time to go inside the church. We had to make sure we had plenty of time for the train ride back to Ostia to board our ship before it departed. {although, being stranded in Rome doesn't seem like such a bad thing!}

We got to walk around Vatican City for a short time and I stopped to by a Rosary. Even though we're not Catholic, there seemed to be something very special about owning a Rosary from the Vatican. The little vendor told me my Rosary had been blessed by the Pope himself. I have no way to be certain if that's true or not, but it is a lovely thought, indeed. My Rosary from Vatican City is something I'll always treasure.

We boarded our train for the coast and settled into our seats, exhausted but utterly satisfied. Even though one day is not nearly enough time to be able to enjoy all of Rome's endless treasures, it was enough to leave us enchanted by this magical city. There has been a deep impression left on our hearts by the history, grandeur, beauty, and culture of Rome--an impression that truly cannot be forgotten.

1 comment:

Tatiana said...

I love Italy! It's so very very beautiful!
I'm so glad you guys had such an amazing time together :-)


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