Incredibly overwhelmed in this ancient city
14.03.2013 - 14.03.2013
We have finally made it to Rome after a long train ride from Venice with crying toddlers next to us. Our hotel is about 1km (0.5mi) away from the train station so we decided to walk our luggage down, even on cobblestones...ha! The large group with all of the college students and some relatives arrived that afternoon. The same 4 of us from Venice decided to search for a bank and walk to Santa Maria Maggione church - said to be the most beautiful church in Rome, by some. Since we didn't happen to go inside any of the many churches we passed in Venice, I'm sure this would've been a great culture (religious?) shock for me. With my fantastic navigation skills, I brought us to the back of the church in the middle of the piazza. So while this incredibly massive building overwhelmed me from the back, as we walked around to the front, I was about to pass out by all of the detailed statues and relics built onto the church! I won't go into the details of the church and bore you because a church is a church but in Rome, a church is a church on steroids. Built in ancient times. No big deal... but I love that you are easily able to walk into these churches free of charge, take pictures, and even sit down at the pieus and attend a mass that may occur while you're there. What amazed me the most was how this partly felt like walking through a museum - floor to ceiling paintings and incredibly detailed works/sculptures, statues in many of the outcoves carved into the walls, marble floors, and a fully covered ceiling! There was even a beautiful stained glass scenery above the entrance which I haven't really seen at any of the other churches I've been to so far. Best part was seeing people going into the confessional booths, available in either Italian or English!
Santa Maria Maggiore church
The inside of the church..not sure why it was so dark in there
Anyways, after spending about an hour there, it was time to meet up with the group for a scheduled dinner at a place right in that square. Everything was already set to be served - an appetizer of bruschetta and some breaded vegetables, lots of wine, and a pizza covering an entire large plate - one per person. Really?! As the first pizza I'm having in Italy, I wasn't expecting that much! But was it seriously delicious with a crisp thin crust, not at all oily and the perfect amounts of tomato sauce and cheese. I wasn't at Charlie's anymore... After only getting through half of it, we had dessert also. So glad the rest of my night entailed exploring more of Rome by foot after that meal.
While much of the group went back to get some sleep, a handful of us went on our own to check out Rome by night. First, the Trevi Fountain!! It only looks so grand and beautiful in the movies, so seeing it in person was spectacular. The Romans know how to display their stuff with all the right lighting in the right places. Shadows were created on the sculptures of gods and on the columns, it was so pretty. We took a few pictures, but didn't throw coins...yet. But I learned that you toss the 1st coin in to come back to Rome, the 2nd is your wish (which most people wish for a husband/wife), and although there's some song about 3 coins in the Trevi Fountain that's actually bullcrap, so the Romans said the 3rd coin is for you to get a divorce. (don't worry, all of this money goes to charity) Then we walked about 10 min to the Pantheon, which is actually a Greek-style building with a hole in the ceiling of the dome built on purpose. I was surprisingly able to get a picture without a single person in the frame or background. Lucky me! After a hop, skip and jump we ended up in Piazza Navona, a square that's actually oval shaped because it was originally a stadium and some ruins of the stadium can be seen today. Aside from the restaurants and shops that create the perimeter of the square, there are 3 fountains within the square and a very large church. The main fountain in the front of the church contained 4 incredibly large marble sculptures of men representing the 4 continents. Of course there aren't 4 continents, but at the time this was built, the Romans only knew of four continents. Haven't they heard of Google?
Trevi Fountain by night
Me against the Pantheon
In the middle of the square, many street vendors were selling artwork mostly water color paintings, but because there were so many who knows if half of them were even real. But I bought a small one of the Colloseum anyways just because it looked nice and was already matted, and I've been looking forward to seeing this the most. After that excursion, we tried to take the bus back towards the hotel. Two blew right past us, because well Italians just don't really care, especially for tourists and I don't blame them. But we got back eventually.