Almighty Rome

Let's face it, Rome is an historian's dream vacation. So much happened there that influenced our society that one could spend one's life exploring the city and not learn all that there is to learn. As it was, we spent a total of four days there and did not even see all of the 'major' tourist sites.

We did not travel with a tour group, so we were free to see what we wanted, and we found an interesting itinerary to keep us busy between major destinations. A few months prior to our trip, both Sara and I read Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, perhaps you have heard of it. We decided that in addition to our personal list of 'must sees' we would follow the 'Path of Illumination' that was described in the book. Unfortunately, we were unable to make it to the Castello, but we did see everything else. It was our conclusion that Mr. Brown used a bit of poetic license to complete his path as a couple of the clues did not seem to really point to the next one. However, it was quite a fun read and also quite an exciting adventure following the book around Rome. And the final jump from a helicopter into the Tiber river was quite refreshing, given the heatwave that was bearing down on us at the time. 🙂
There are so many things to see in Rome that it is difficult to list them all, much less pick a single 'must see'. I will at least exclude Vatican City from this post, as it comes in a later one, and I would assume that anyone traveling to Rome would make it a priority in itself. The list of things to see should include: the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the numerous Piazzas and Palazzos, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, the Arch of Constantine and many others. I suppose if I had to pick a single favorite site, it would be the Colosseum. It is just an incredible piece of architecture and the history behind it is so interesting. I would recommend actually finding a guide or joining a group when touring this, as you will learn quite a bit and it is worth a few extra dollars to really get a feel for the history of this place. It is very worth it.
One evening for dinner, Sara and I found ourselves at the Colosseum and I was really in the mood for something uniquely Italian to eat. We found a restaurant with outdoor seating and decided it looked good. After looking over the menu, I found a pizza that I thought had to be something authentic, because it just sounded so weird. It was a mushroom, ham and egg pizza. It was certainly nothing I would order in the States, so I went for it. Well, it was what I thought: weird. It was a standard size pizza, and very thin (which is the typical Italian style of pizza). Half of the pizza was covered in mushrooms, the other half had a single slice of ham, the kind you buy prepackaged in the grocery store (you know, a little square thing) and two slices of hard boiled egg. I never found out if this was a preferred type of pizza in Italy or if the waiter was laughing at me behind my back. One tip we got from Rick Steve's Guide to Italy was an inexpensive way to stay in Rome. We were able to stay a quarter of a mile from the Spanish Steps (where other hotels would charge hundreds of dollars per night) for around 60 Euros by staying at a convent. What an authentic experience! The nuns did not really speak English, but we were able to communicate fairly well with them. We had our own room and even better, our own bathroom. I would highly recommend this to others who are looking for ways to save money or who are just looking for ways to interact with the locals more easily. Overall Rome is an incredible destination, but I would definitely recommend that you do some research before you go or else you might be overwhelmed at all of the choices of places to see. You will want to spend as many days as possible there because you will need to allocate a full day just to go to the Vatican.

Must See: the Colosseum, but find a guide to show you all of the ins and outs that you would otherwise miss.

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