Monday, September 26, 2011

The Long Awaited Rome Post

As many of you already know from a previous post, Chris and I were blessed with a trip to Rome for our 10th wedding anniversary. Dad and Mom Bracken gave us tickets and a hotel room using their frequent flier and hotel points. Another pastor blessed us with an offering that covered all the land cost. Like I said, it was a total blessing! I have been trying to get this post together for about 3 months now and I apologize to you that have been waiting. So, let's just dive right in, shall we?

Day 1: We slept in after an exhausting Sunday night flight and full day in Paris on Monday. When we did get up, we just grabbed a map and went walking. The map was to get back home with more than anything else. After first locating a sidewalk cafe and eating pizza and ravioli to our hearts content, we wandered down one street and up another. Somewhere we found this building that had been converted into a government building. We tried out a little artistic photography.

We stumbled upon an afternoon market and I got an the coolest watch. It is smooth and black and made from a coconut shell. Not exactly quality, but every time I wear it, I feel like I am back in Rome. There many have also been an awesome leather purse that came home with me. Then we crossed these bridges that were quite beautiful. Chris convinced me to pose and we also brought home this somewhat lame picture of me posing. Please focus on the bridge behind me.

Thinking that this was a pretty scenic street, we tried out a bit more artistic photography. It turns out that the building in the background is St. Peter's Basilica. We did not actually visit the Vatican City since with was already closed.

After a few more turns, we discovered a Piazza that was in full swing for the night. We watched a artist paint some beautiful paintings (a few which we bought for gifts because we could not believe how cheap they were) and met a Chinese man that was surprised that we could speak Chinese. He was kind enough to tell me that my husband's Chinese is better than mine. Just give me 20 more years! We then left the piazza heading south, but thinking that we were headed north. Our hotel was north. When we once again reached the river, we discovered our mistake. Since walking back would have been an hour trek and we were worn out from having already been walking for about 7 hours, we decided to figure out the bus system. Fortunately, it is very tourist friendly and since we were the only ones on the bus, the driver ask where we wanted to go and took us straight there! Awesome. I have to say that the Italian people were so friendly and eager to please.

Day 2: Today we have goals! We started with the Colosseum, then moved on the the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Circus Maximus. On a map, these areas look relatively small. They are not. Do not be fooled. But first, the Colosseum. It was so much bigger than what I had envisioned. Look, the sun is in our faces!

In this picture, you can see where they have reconstructed a portion of flooring over the ruins. This is what the original would have looked like. To the spectators, the floor looked solid, but was actually constructed of moving parts. This way, things, people or animals could "magically" appear in the middle of the arena during performances. The Colosseum was mainly used for festivals and outrageous performances. And by Outrageous, I mean 50 bears at one time.

You can see here that under the floor was actually a network of rooms and hallways. They used pulleys to lift things up onto the arena floor. I have to tell you a little funny. Chris and I were listening to their audio guide and Chris nudged me and said, "Look! There is still a wild animal down in the ruins!" When I looked, there was a very calm, very domesticated cat strolling around like it owned the place!

Just a little view of the different ruins outside of the Colosseum. I was on the second floor when I took these pictures. Before the ruins crumbled, there was actually a third floor to the Colosseum. As I mentioned, it was quite large.

This is the Arch of Constantine. It is located just outside the Colosseum and was erected to declare Constantine's triumph in a certain battle. This was the purpose of Arches.

Just a little view of Palatine Hill. It was so lush and beautiful that it was easy to see why the Caesars chose this location. If you are unfamiliar with Roman history, Palatine Hill is the center most hill of the seven hills of Rome. It has the Roman Forum on one side and Circus Maximus on the other side. It was also the location of the residence of Caesars and affluent Romans. The Roman Forum was of course where all the government buildings were located.

In the Roman Forum, there was an arch that caught my eye. Actually, it was the menorah depicted that caught my eye. This arch was to commemorate a victory in the Parthian wars in 203 AD. It is call the Arch of Septimius Severus. I know that the battle was at Mesapotamia, but does anyone know more than wikipedia about this?

While resting at the arch, I took this picture to remind myself not to buy new shoes before a trip. Does anyone want these shoes? I can't even think about them without my feet hurting.

Circus Maximus was under some construction, so we only got to peek at it from the road. On the way back to our hotel, I captured a great street view. We were staying at the top of the Spanish steps.

Day 3: We started the day by once again navigating the bus system to go visit a catacomb. There are dozens of catacombs in Rome and we chose what is believed to be the oldest and largest, which is called "Catacomb of Priscilla". How it got this name is a little conflicting. The tour guide told us that it was named for a wealthy lady that donated the land to Christians for burial. Most accounts I have read in other placed say that it was named for this lady because she was probably the wife of the Consul Acilius who became a Christian and was killed on the orders of Domitian. It does have some of the oldest paintings of Mary with the baby Jesus. Interesting enough, there was no paintings or symbols of the cross in the catacombs because the early Christians did not focus on the death of Christ, but instead on his resurrection! They did not allow pictures down in the catacombs, but you see some online hereAfter leaving the Catacombs, we wandered around until we found a little restaurant. We were pretty far out of the tourist-y areas and enjoyed some down home cooking. No one spoke English, so we had lots of fun pointing and figuring it out. From there, we caught a bus and just rode until we saw something interesting. If we saw something out the window we liked, we just hopped off at the next stop and explored. And really, that is what we like best about going to another country. Just jumping into the culture and figuring it out.

That night, we went out to a special place to eat for our actual anniversary dinner. The restaurant had an incredible view of the city. After wards, we tried to take a picture, but it was a little too dark. I tried to lighten it, but it just came out looking photo-shopped!! Oh well, enjoy!

It was a short but wonderful trip that I would be again in a heartbeat. Chris would go back for the food alone!