Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Italy Part One: Roma

We took the most amazing trip of our lives in April of 2015.  Almost a year and a half later we wanted to reflect on this adventure and have enjoyed reminiscing our travels by reading our travel journal and looking through picture and souvenirs.  After years of dreaming about traveling to Europe, and months of planning our trip to Italy by ourselves, we spent a total of nine days between Rome, Florence and Venice.  I will write a separate post for each city so prepare yourself for photo overload.

Ancient Rome

Our first full day started out with trying to learn the metro and making our way to the Colosseum.  There is a metro stop called Colosseo but we figured it would probably be a bit of a walk to get to the Colosseum.  Boy were we in shock when we walked up the stairs to street level and the Colosseum was right there, right in front of us, and HUGE!  Such an incredible piece of architecture and SO much history.

The Colosseum was built in 70 AD and was used for brutal gladiator spectacles. It seated about 65,000 blood thirsty Romans and you can still see the remains of some of those seats today. We spent hours walking all over the Colosseum and marveled at its magnitude. You can see the lower level where they would hide various animals and surprises to add into each battle. It was incredible to see!

From the Colosseum you can see the Arch of Constantine and start the walk into Ancient Rome.  It is surreal because all of this is right in the middle of the city, with the modern buildings and apartments built around the historical sights.  All of the architecture and art is so intricate and grand.  We also lucked out that it was a beautiful sunny and warm day to take this walk.  It did rain later in the week so we were grateful that we could enjoy these sights with perfect weather.  Walking around these ruins we were able to see remnants of temples, columns and Romes ancient market place.

After visiting the ancient Rome ruins we followed Rick Steve's recommended heart of Rome walk up to the Spanish Steps.  The Spanish Steps are a popular meeting spot for the locals and are considered the place to be in the evenings as well.  Surrounding the steps are streets of shopping and very high end designer stores.  There is a popular saying in Rome, the "beautiful chaos", meaning the chaos and crowds are part of what add to it's beauty.  We found this to be very true and enjoyed doing as the Romans do every chance we got.  We enjoyed lunch at Piazza Novana and then finished our evening with our first taste of gelato at Piazza Del Popolo.  Unfortunately the Trevi Fountain was closed for renovation but we still tossed a coin into a makeshift "fountain" that was put up for tourists.  

This picture perfectly shows the crowded and beautiful chaos of Rome.


Gelato quickly became our favorite meal of the day!

Our final stop in ancient Rome was the Pantheon.  The Pantheon is Rome's best-preserved monument and is still used today for mass every weekend.  After walking through the ancient ruins of Rome it was amazing to see how well preserved this building actually is.  The Romans sure know how to create breathtaking architecture.  


Vatican City

 The Vatican City includes St. Peter's Square, The Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica.  Fun fact: Vatican City is actually it's own country all by itself.  The line to get into the Vatican was  F O U R  hours long.  We spent that time reading from our Rick Steve's book about what we would soon be seeing inside the Vatican, and time went by surprisingly fast.  I would highly recommend purchasing your tickets online beforehand which also reserves you an entry time.  It would definitely be worth the extra fees, so please heed our advice.  Inside the Vatican Museum it is so grand and large seems to never end!  The halls continue with statues, carvings, paintings, tapestries, and intricate designs from floor to ceiling.  Here are some of the incredible pieces we were able to see inside.

Waiting in line for four hours!

The Belvedere Torso



There is no shortage of Roman busts and statues

We found Lord Voldemort!

The last room of the Vatican Museum was the famous Sistine Chapel.  The ceiling took six years for Michelangelo to hand paint.  He later painted The Last Judgement on the main wall of the chapel which took another four years to complete. You are not allowed to take pictures inside of this sacred chapel so I have attached some thanks to google.

The Last Judgement

Mykel did sneak this perfect picture of "The Creation" on the ceiling.  This is an image of God reaching out and touching Adam symbolizing the creation of man.

Our Rick Steve's Rome book completely paid for itself because of the information about the secret entry that was inside The Sistine Chapel that led straight to St. Peter's Basilica.  We were able to use a hidden doorway and were literally the only ones that went through it.  We read about the possibilities of getting sent back or turned away by the guards, but we were lucky enough to sneak through and avoid hours of standing in yet another line.  Instead we were able to gain immediate entry into St. Peter's Basilica. 

St. Peter's Basilica is such a beautiful and massive church. We paid the extra euros to hike to the top of the dome and it was an incredible experience! We were able to look down into the church from the inside of the dome, and then get a great view of the city by hiking to the very top. To our surprise on our way down we were able to walk along the rooftop of the basilica and see even more incredible views. There was also a small shop on the roof run completely by nuns. Those nuns must be in great shape having to hike to the top of the dome everyday!

Looking down into the church from the top of the dome

Picture perfect view of Vatican Square from the rooftop of St. Peter's Basilica

Capuchin Crypt

We walked miles and miles and miles each and every day. If it wasn't for the carb and gelato overload we probably would have lost much more weight than we did.  We also saw the Capuchin Crypt, a group of somewhat morbid, but sacred, chapels beneath a church, containing the skeletal remains of more than 4,000 friars.  Each chapel has a theme which makes use of the different bones, including the Crypt of Skulls, Crypt of the Pelvises, and Crypt of the Resurrection.  They do not allow photos inside the crypt, however we snuck some anyways because we did not want to forget this eerie spectacle.


Churches and other sights

The churches in Rome were each so unique, and they were all free, so we took advantage and went into every church we found along our walks. I must admit the ceilings inside were my favorite.  There was one church called St. Peter-in-Chains which had on display the chains that bound St. Peter while he was jailed in Jerusalem.

The chains on display that bound St. Peter

One of my favorite features of all of the churches that we went inside were the incredible ceilings.  Some were covered in gold, others stone, but each of them had such dimension and beauty.

The famous cobble stone streets of Rome.  I twisted my ankles too many times to count!



The amount to see and do in Rome was beyond anything we could have imagined.  While we only spent four days there, and most travel sights recommend that amount of time, we could of easily spent our entire trip just in the city of Rome.  Despite falling in love with bella Roma, we were excited to continue our adventure and explore both Florence and Venice next.

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