Rome began with a hullabaloo of train mix-ups, running around train stations and… anyway, we got there. Our host met us at the train station, and drove us all the way to our apartment on the other side of town, for free! Seriously, if you are ever traveling in Europe book with housetrip.com. Best apartments ever.
We spent that night getting settled into our apartment and cooking ourselves the best pasta dinner tired travelers could want. Well rested, we headed to the Colosseum the next morning! Nice tip, a ticket to the Colosseum will also get you into the Roman Forum which is just as cool and has a WAY shorter line for tickets. Go there first for a ticket, and it will be great.
It was really fun to walk through all the ruins of the forum and see the places where Romans would have walked on their way to make government decisions or just around town. And the Colosseum was magnificent. It’s a beautiful piece of architecture, but as I walked around I couldn’t help but think about the millions of people, especially Christians who had been killed there centuries ago. As I watched everyone around me take smiling selfies, my mood became solemn. I thought of all the ones who had died in the name of my religion, making way for the path I follow today, not giving up hope in their religion because of what their government thought.
After that, we were exhausted from a day spent in the past so we went home early and went to bed. the next morning we woke up to the sound of thunderstorms. Usually I would love that, except at seven we heard a huge bang outside, and when we woke up at eight our wifi was out. That’s right, no wifi, no plugs to charge our phones in, and not even any hot water. Talk about living in the past. But, there was nothing we could do about it, so as soon as the rain let up we headed over to the Vatican.
The Vatican was so beautiful, so many magnificent buildings, and the Sistine Chapel took my breath away. The ceiling is absolutely covered in paintings telling the whole story of the Bible from beginning to end with the Michelangelo’s famous creation painting right in the middle. Had the crowd not been around me, I would have loved to lie down on the floor and just gaze at the beauty surrounding me. But unfortunately, the crowd was there, and my neck started hurting from looking up so much, so much too soon before I was ready, I had to leave the chapel.
Once all of us met back up at the end of the chapel, we saw our fill of the rest of the Vatican, then headed over to St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s an absolutely beautiful, one of my favorite churches in Europe, and it has one of my favorite sculptures in it, Penitence. It shows Jesus’s mother Mary weeping over her son after his death. It was absolutely moving, and I really enjoyed getting to see the whole chapel.
The rest of that day was spent dodging rain, eating gluten-free pizza, and getting in contact with our host about the wifi, and then crawling into bed. We got a late start to the next day, having to deal with the power issues, but once we got going, we went to see the Trevi Fountain. I was so excited to see such a famous sight, but unfortunately it was under construction! My Lizzy McGuire Movie moment didn’t get to happen, but at least I still got to make my wish. After a bit of souvenir shopping, we headed down the road to find the Pantheon. I really wanted to see some of the relics of worship of the Roman gods, but to my surprise (and lack of research) the Pantheon had been rebuilt by the Christians, and the whole inside was a church. It was exciting that Christ had such a far reach even back then, but I had been really excited for that part of history. Even still the Pantheon is beautiful, and it contained the grave of one of my favorite painters, Raphael! So it turned out to be a really cool trip.
To finish the trip out we went to visit a sculpture we had been hearing about all semester: The Ecstasy of St. Theresa! It’s of the moment God touched Theresa and told her to give her life over to Him, and it’s a beautiful piece of artwork that really moves you.
Overall, Italy was a really fun trip. I got to see some really amazing things that had been on my bucket list for years. I loved getting to learn about early Christianity and see the origins of my religion come to life. Hopefully I’ll go back again soon, but for now, Caio, Rome!