Jason and I got to set off for two and a half days FULL of Rome sightseeing thanks to Nana who has come to stay with us. While she watched Z&L, we hopped on a plane south in search for warmer weather. The day we left a new blanket of snow had fallen all over Brussels and we were not sad to leave it behind. Rome was “warmer” but it still was a bit chilly for this time of year (like much of the world right now).
We woke up late each morning, enjoyed breakfast and set off with walking shoes, a camera and a backpack. We came home exhausted but educated.
After arriving we decided to go take a look around the ruins in the city center. Here’s the iconic Colosseum. We did not go in because the line was rumored to be around 2 hrs even with the Roma Pass. Jason and I have a rule about traveling passed on by our buddy Mr. Steeves…we don’t wait in lines.
A building near the entrance to Palatine Hill. Fun story…we saw the line to get in to Palatine Hill (~200+ deep?) and said. um. no. So we walked around the backside looking at other things. When we found a different entrance to Palatine Hill with no line. Success.
The Pantheon (not the Parthenon. I couldn’t quit calling it that!) Each Pillar is constructed with one solid piece of granite and the dome is made of unreinforced concrete. How it structurally existed was a mystery until only recently when it was discovered that the roof goes from extremely thick concrete at the bottom and slowly gets thinner on the way up allowing it to go unsupported.
After visiting a fair amount of old Rome…except Circus Maximus because Jason did not want to walk the distance to see an oval gravel pit…we viewed more (or less) modern Rome.
But. The people. The people. The people. There were a few times when I started feeling my heart race up into my chest and my mind start to fuzz. Fight or Flight mode started coursing through my veins and I either wanted to punch the next person who stepped on my foot/elbowed my camera or RUN to get out of there. While in the Sistene Chapel a poor woman had a panic attack and freaked out. They were able to get to her and take her out. Before experiencing the madness that is the Vatican THE DAY BEFORE EASTER, I would have raised an eyebrow at someone having a panic attack while staring up at Michangelo’s masterpiece. Now? I’m surprised I didn’t have one myself.
In keeping with our no lines policy, Jason and I hired a private tour guide of The Vatican from Absolute Italy. It is pricey but WORTH IT. We skipped all the lines and walked straight in. Also, we got the Indiana Jones of guides. Daniele is an archeologist who studies the Etruscans. In fact, he was leaving in two weeks to head to a dig site in Tuscany. He led the two of us through the Vatican with ease and immense knowledge.
The “Laocoon and His Sons” sculpture
Indiana Daniele Jones was fantastic. Side note…LOOK how we are. I have put on my ugly walking shoes, my trench coat is a hideous mess and I look like I’m about to die. Jason’s hair looks like he just got up. I mean…4 hours of being molested by pushing and shoving your way through the Vatican was enough to make anyone look this bad.
kitschy – Sentimentality or vulgar, often pretentious bad taste, especially in the arts. Each major European city we have visited has been overrun by kitsch. People badgering you to buy stupid little McDonald’s toys, laser pointers, fake knock-off brand items, Beglian waffles (in Italy), men dressed in stupid costumes asking for money if you so much as glance at them, it is ridiculous!
My time on the Spanish steps was ruined by these guys. I was trying to enjoy the moment but every 15 seconds someone came up to me yelling PREGO! PREGO! and tried to hand me a rose, or a laser pointer, or a squash ball or a bracelet all for sale, only One Euro. And not just asking, IN YOUR FACE and trying to shove it in your hand. Jason had to go into protector mode when this man would not take “NO” for an answer. After the 4th NO from me, he tried to put the rose into my elbow grove and almost got it down my shirt. I screamed STOP and Jason had to get in his face to get him to back off.
The cities are going to have to do something about this because it is driving tourists away. The movie-like charm and romance of these cities are gone thanks to these “vendors”. We will be visiting Florence next week and I heard they are even worse than Rome. I’m bringing mace.
A now, a 3 minute video review of Rome. This is me being cheesy and a travel channel tour guide impersonator so enjoy my corny side.