To see Rome in a day: First thing's first... buy a "Roma Pass" in advance. It gives you free entry to your first two sights and you get to skip the line! Make sure not to waste time buying this in the Forum/ Colosseum area... we had to wait in line for awhile and then Logan found a subway station nearby (no line) and was able to snatch up 2 passes! They are valid for 3 days and are also good for public transportation. You can also purchase these at the airport...wish we would have done that!
This was by FAR our best weather day- Praise God! We were actually WARM :) We started our day at Palantine Hill. This is central spot where all the Ancient Roman palaces were built. You can see the remains today...its also where the word "palace" originated from: Palantine Hill.
Next, we walked down to The Forum. Rick Steve's says its "arguably the most important piece of reasl estate in Western civilization." There are only a few ruins still standing today, but it was impressive to walk the streets where Julius Ceaser (among others) walked. We did the Rick Steve's Audio Guide for this tour and just listened to it on our iPhones. Technology is so cool, right?
Under that little roof is where Julius Ceasar was burned.
There are fresh flowers on this site every day of the year.
Unfortunately, we had to cut our visit short and zip over to the Vatican for our 2pm appointment. I HIGHLY recommend buying a ticket to the Vatican in advance. We did not have to wait in line for this one either.
Being inside Saint Peter's Basillica was unlike anything I have ever seen in my life. It was massively huge and there was not a single surface that was not embellished with something exquisite.
Michaelangelo's famous dome.
Where Peter's remains are kept today. "Upon this rock, I will build my church."
The famous Peter statue- his foot is rubbed off from all the tourists kissing/ rubbing it for luck.
The front of the church.
One of the impressive statues inside.
This is a painting of Peter being hung on the cross upside down. It is allegedly placed in the very spot where he was executed. Kind of takes your breath away.
Michaelangelo's Pieta. It shows Mary holding her crucified son, Jesus. Unfortunately a crazy man broke in and started chiseling away at this statue in the 90's so its now surrounded by bulletproof glass. Still breathtaking though.
Sadly, you cannot take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel (also the Pope's personal chapel.) I will tell you though, I have never been so impressed by a piece of art. We listened to Rick Steves' audio tour with our necks craned upward for 30 minutes. I soaked up every detail in that painting and relished in the fact that Michaelangelo painted every single stroke, standing up, over the span of 4 years. To say it was impressive is an understatement. I was moved. I will never forget it.
Drinking fresh water.
Rome has these fountains all over the city.
We caught a cab back to the Colosseum to finish our tour.
I sound like a broken record, but again we did Rick Steves audio tour. They are ALL FREE and although at times cheesy, they are just the right amount of informative without dragging on for hours and hours. I was kind of sad to learn of everything this spot represented- basically a grand theater where the prisoners, the poor, and the Christians had to star in a PLAY and act out their death. I never knew they embellished these scenes with props, set designs and wild animals. I had seen the movie Gladiator, but wow... I never knew the extent the Romans went to "entertain." That being said, you cannot argue with how incredibly impressive the architecture is seeing as it was built 2000 years ago and is still standing today.
The inter-workings underneath the stage were really impressive and sad at the same time. These are the rooms where they kept the prisoners and wild animals. They used manmade elevators and trap doors to hoist them up from underground onto the stage.
After this we RAN (literally) over to the St. Peter-In-Chains Church. I had heard the famous "Moses" statue was impressive and that the chains that held Saint Peter were stored here as well. I have to admit, I think this is the most UNDERRATED church! I was almost more moved by seeing his chains than his burial site because it was physical... tangible. Whether or not you are a Christian, this is physical proof that Peter was a walking, living, person and these are the physical chains that bound him in prison. The man that walked with Jesus, learned from him, and brought Christianity to Rome. It knocked my socks off. (Although the way they are preserved seems a bit idolatrous and over-the-top)
And the amazing Moses statue by Michaelangelo.
After that we headed back to Campo de' Fiori for apertivo and over to Piazza Navona for dinner right beside its impressive Bernini fountain. It was so picturesque. I tried to soak up every single second of our last night and topped it all off by purchasing 2 original pieces of artwork from a local street artisan. I must have looked through 50 of his paintings and I chose my favorite 2. I can't wait to hang them in our home and be reminded of this magical experience.
Thanks for coming along for the ride. We sure did accomplish a lot in 7 days, rain OR shine! I absolutely love Italy. It is crazy how DIFFERENT Italy and France are when they are just next door neighbors. The culture, the architecture, the language, the landscape. It was the perfect way to start my 28th year! We really do hope to return someday...anyone want to join us? :)