When in Rome…Part II

Alright, now that I have had a break from part one, and the baby is laying down for a morning nap (and I am enjoying a much-needed cup of coffee), let’s get back to business. As you recall, we spent the first day of our trip ogling the sheer magnificence of the Colosseum, followed by a tour of the Roman Forum. Before I start on day two, I want to share one last fun picture from the first day that we took whilst heading to dinner after the end of our tour:

Sweet little street trick isn't it? He definitely had me and my husband amazed for about five minutes, then we googled it and found out the truth. I won't spoil it for you though.

Sweet little street trick isn’t it? He definitely had me and my husband amazed for about five minutes, then we googled it and found out the truth. I won’t spoil it for you though.

Ok, enough of day one. Let’s get started.

On Tuesday (day two), we woke up early so that we could go take advantage of our “continental breakfast” provided by the B&B. Which really wasn’t provided by them, so much as it was a coupon for a little cafe behind the building we were in. Now, my dear American friends and family, what comes to mind when you think of a continental breakfast? Could it be eggs? bacon? possibly a couple of slices of toast with some of those square packages of jelly (grape is my fave personally) on the side? Well, if you were in America, that is likely what you would get. However, in Europe, they have differing ideas on what they think a continental breakfast should include. Are you ready for it? It’s a coffee (cafe, latte, cappuccino, espresso, etc.) and a croissant. The end. So, if you are expecting to get full or not suffer from low blood sugar within a couple of hours, a European continental breakfast is not for you. But hey, free is free, right? and I am not going to lie, it was pretty tasty too.

A continental breakfast, european style. Bakeries bring fresh croissants to the cafe bars every morning, and they are all delicious!That cappuccino had the best foam, in fact, every cappuccino I have ever had in Italy has the best foam.

A continental breakfast, european style. Bakeries bring fresh croissants to the cafe bars every morning, and they are all delicious!That cappuccino had the best foam, in fact, every cappuccino I have ever had in Italy has had the best foam.

After our faux breakfast, we had a few hours to kill before our tour started in the afternoon. We decided to follow the throngs of people walking down the wide sidewalk that goes along the Vatican city walls, which was also relatively close to our B&B, and see where it took us.

Here we are headed to the Vatican square, all of those people in front of us were a good mix of tourists and people worked inside the Vatican city walls.

Here we are headed to the St. Peter’s square, all of those people in front of us were a good mix of tourists and people who worked inside the Vatican city walls.

This is the first time I saw a nun on our way to the Vatican square. I don't know  why, but it made me excited!

I was way too excited to see a nun for the first time, so, I quickly took a picture! All the while, my husband was shaking his head. I know people, I know.

As we approached closer to what would ultimately open up to St. Peter’s square, I was beyond excited. I had the sense that we were unknowingly about to find ourself in a place that was visually, architecturally, jaw-droppingly beautiful, and I was right.

We come from out of the corridor and this is what we see. We were both in awe. See that line of people? Those are tourists waiting to get in. It was only 9a.m.

That sidewalk led us straight to this. We were both in awe. See that line of people? Those are tourists waiting to get in. It was only 9a.m.

A closer view of St. Peters Basiica. It is truly a magestic piece of art.

A closer view of St. Peters Basilica. It is truly a majestic piece of art.

More details...

More details…

I love lighting fixtures, and I especially fancied this one. They were strung within the halls of the buildings surrounding St. Peter's square.

I love lighting fixtures, and I especially fancied this one. They were strung within the halls of the buildings surrounding St. Peter’s square.

So, here is what was racing through my mind as we stood in awe of the magnificence that is St. Peter’s square–I kept thinking about history class, in fact, in my junior year of high school I took an Advanced Placement (AP) History class and I can still remember my teacher describing his trip to Rome and visiting this very same historical landmark. I can’t remember his name for the life of me, but I sure can recall the glimmer in his eyes as he recounted his experience to us. There isn’t a single one of us who hasn’t heard about this place, seen it in a magazine, on television, or a postcard; and there we were, hands rested on its beautiful columns.

You can see the wide-open square, mostly empty with the exception of the chairs and barricades in place for the Wednesday Papal Audience.

You can see the wide-open square, mostly empty with the exception of the chairs and barricades in place for the Wednesday Papal Audience.

Poppa and baby- even she understood she was somewhere special!

Poppa and baby- even she understood she was somewhere special!

Mama and Baby--I really wish we could have had a family picture with the three of us, but that would have meant I would have to hand over my beloved camera to a stranger. Not.Gonna.Happen.

Mama and Baby–I really wish we could have had a family picture with the three of us, but that would have meant I would have had to hand over my beloved camera to a stranger. Not.Gonna.Happen.

So, after our wonderings of the square, we were feeling hungry again, actually, it’s not that we were feeling hungry again but more like after the excitement passed, we were reminded that we were still hungry in the first place. So, on our way out, I saw something I had seen before, and even remember our tour guide mentioning it the day before. Romans love to brag about how much water they have (which they attribute to the Tiber river), their ‘cup runneth over’ in that respect, and apparently it is really clean. All over the city they have these water fountains, exquisite ones and unsuspecting ones, and you will find people walking up to them to refill their bottles, drinking it straight from the tap. Even though I saw a bunch of people doing it, I did not do it myself as I am still so cynical about Italian drinking water (especially in Naples, but that is a whole other topic).

This was a water fountain outside of St. Peter's square. Decadent, eh?

This was a water fountain outside of St. Peter’s square. Decadent, eh?

I have to admit, if I was going to drink from a public fountain, it would definitely be this one.

I have to admit, if I was going to drink from a public fountain, it would definitely be this one.

Here is a fountain that was across the street from the Colosseum. Unsuspecting, but apparently it's clean as I saw someone walk right up to it and fill their bottle to the brim.

Here is a fountain that was across the street from the Colosseum. Unsuspecting, isn’t it? but apparently it’s clean, as I saw someone walk right up to it and fill their bottle to the brim.

After the fountain photo-op, we went to another cafe that advertised a “real” american breakfast, and let me just say, I wish I had taken pictures of it to show you what it actually was. Now, I know what some of you might be thinking, “She’s in Rome and she is complaining that there isn’t any good American cuisine? Is she for real?”. My response to that would be: as far as lunch and dinner are concerned I will eat authentic Italian food all day long. I mean, I love it! But when it comes to breakfast, I need something a little more substantial than a croissant, and any type of breakfast that is not a croissant and involves scrambled eggs, is marketed as an “American breakfast” in Italy.

Saw this sign on our way to the Cafe. I know "Arma" means 'weapon' and "La Mente" means 'the mind'. But I have no clue what "MSE" affiliates to.

Saw this sign on our way to the Cafe. I know “Arma” means ‘weapon’ and “La Mente” means ‘the mind’. But I have no clue what “MSE” affiliates to.

This is the little Cafe we eventually went to for our second breakfast.

This is the little Cafe we eventually went to for our second breakfast.

Damn these Italians and their pastries. I guess I can't blame them for wanting to eat them for breakfast.

Damn these Italians and their pastries. I guess I can’t blame them for wanting to eat them for breakfast.

My second cuppocino in 2 hours. Can you blame me?

My second cappuccino in 2 hours. Can you blame me?

I realize I’ve wasted entirely too much time on the breakfast topic, so, moving on. After our second breakfast we headed back to the B&B to chill out for a bit before our tour. During that time, I took the opportunity to…you guessed it, take more pictures. Don’t get me wrong, I love taking pictures of all of the cool stuff we see on our travels…but I love taking pictures of my family even more.

Stunning, isn't she? Nothing melts my heart more.

Stunning, isn’t she? Nothing melts my heart more.

The entire time we were in Rome, Sadie was obsessed with standing on the bed and leaning on the foot board.

The entire time we were in Rome, Sadie was obsessed with standing on the bed and leaning on the foot board.

The only way I could get the three of us in one frame. I call it the "modified selfie".

The only way I could get the three of us in one frame. I call it the “modified selfie”.

By 1:00p.m., we set out to the tour agency so they could take us to our meeting point at the Piazza Bocca della Verita’ for the Arts & History tour. We got there pretty early and had a little more time to kill before our tour guide showed up. So, naturally, we did some more walking around, and took photos of randomness.

Our meeting point...gotta love these old, obscure signs.

Our meeting point…gotta love these old, obscure signs.

Hey look! Another nun!

Hey look! Another nun!

Ok, these next two photos have nothing to do with our tour, I just thought it was kind of cool that I kept seeing graffiti pop up in random places. Believe it or not, our current day Romans take pride in their urban street art.

First one I saw, you can't see it well, but in the background is an old church.

First one I saw, you can’t see it well, but in the background is an old church.

Maybe what I love most about the graffiti in Rome is that it is neon, it almost makes you happy.

Maybe what I loved most about the graffiti in Rome is that it is neon. It almost makes you happy.

We finally connected with our tour guide, Roberto, a bit before 2:00p.m. Of our two tour guides on our trip, Roberto was my favorite. He talked to us like we were old friends and really made the tour interesting. Our first stop was the Basilica of St. Mary in Cosmedin.

It was almost impossible for me to get a good shot of this church. Strangely, I like it crooked though.

It was almost impossible for me to get a good shot of this church. Strangely, I like it crooked though.

They don't make them like this anymore, that's for sure.

They don’t make them like this anymore, that’s for sure.

If you’re scratching your head right now, I don’t blame you, I had never heard of this place till then either. This 8th century church is host to something very famous though, by its name you may not know, but when you see it you’ll be asking yourself, “why does this look so familiar?”.

Translated as "The Mouth of Truth". The Bocca Della Verita' has even been the movies. Perhaps you have seen Roman Holiday? While we waited for Robert, we watched tourist after tourist walk up to it and take a picture with their hand in its mouth.

Translated as “The Mouth of Truth”. The Bocca Della Verita’ has even been in the movies. Perhaps you have seen Roman Holiday? While we waited for Roberto, we watched tourist after tourist walk up to it and take a picture with their hand in its mouth. Italian’s actually think it is funny that so many tourists do that.

Even though the Bocca Della Verita’ is probably one of the most notable things about this church, it had some other pretty cool stuff to it that I was glad to capture. The interior, especially the floors, reminded me of a mosque I once toured in Morocco.

This beauty is within the church's souvenir shop. From what I can recall, it has been preserved in the church from the very beginning.

This beauty is within the church’s souvenir shop. From what I can recall, it has been preserved in the church from the very beginning.

Not something you would expect to see inside a beautiful church, but there it is to your left right when you walk in.

Not something you would expect to see inside a beautiful church, but there it is to your left right when you walk in.

Let's take a closer look at this beauty. Both me and my husband found it very striking. Roberto explained to us that the skull is a representation of where life and death meet, and that is what makes it so beautiful.

Let’s take a closer look at this. Both me and my husband found it very striking. Roberto explained to us that the skull is a representation of where life and death meet, and that is what makes it so beautiful. It wouldn’t be the last time we would see skulls within the beautiful walls of a church.

What did I tell you about those floors? Aren't they gorgeous? I felt like I was walking on art.

What did I tell you about those floors? Aren’t they gorgeous? I felt like I was walking on art.

It seems that within every building in Rome you will find beautiful columns, one of those is marble I believe.

It seems that within every building in Rome you will find beautiful columns, one of those is marble I believe and is original to the beginnings of the church.

The first thing you see when you walk into the main part of the church is this beautiful roof.

The first thing you see when you walk into the main part of the church is this awesome roof.

A closer look. It is hard to see, but along all of those windows are actual paintings that have faded over time.

A closer look. It is hard to see, but along all of those windows is artwork that has faded over time.

I fell in love with these gold detailed lanterns.

I fell in love with these gold lanterns.

It seems that every church you go to in Rome has some sort of fresco art in it, this place was no exception.

It seems that every church you go to in Rome has some sort of fresco art in it, this place was no exception.

Some things I didn’t get pictures of are the wreath draped skull/remains of St. Valentine (yes, the one for whom Valentines Day is named after), and a very damp, underground, catacomb like space that was once a secret prayer place for a long ago Pope, I don’t recall his name though. The lighting was just so low that I didn’t get any good pictures of it. That concluded our tour of St. Mary’s, and we then crossed the street to the Forum Boarium.

The Forum Boario, just past that long line of mopeds stopped at a traffic light.

The Forum Boarium, just past that long line of mopeds stopped at a traffic light.

This place, at one point in history was an ancient market place for roughly 500 years (according to our guide) and is still home to the famous Temple of Hercules Victor, and the Temple of Portunus. The Boarium is situated between the Tiber river and the Palatine Hills, which flat surface made it perfect for all types of commerce. It was also the place where the first gladiator contest was held, in 264 BC, long before the Colosseum became host to them.

Welcome to the Piazza Bocca Della Verita'...home of the Forum Boarium.

Welcome to the Piazza Bocca Della Verita’…home of the Forum Boarium.

This fountain is found in the center of the Piazza.

This fountain is found in the center of the Piazza.

This is by far one of my favorite photos of the tour. Thank you mister birdie for adding to its interest.

This is by far one of my favorite photos of the tour. Thank you mister birdie for adding to its interest.

The Temple of Hercules Victor. Erected sometime in the 2nd century BC. It also has history of being a church as well.

The Temple of Hercules Victor. Erected sometime in the 2nd century BC. It also has history of being a church as well.

This is the rear view of the Temple Portunus. It was erected between 100-80 BC. It too eventually became a church.

This is the rear view of the Temple Portunus. It was erected between 100-80 BC. It too eventually became a church.

Again, in the midst of writing this post, I have realized, “Holy crap, there is no way I can wrap up the trip in this single post”. You see folks, I took approximately 2,493 photos on my new Canon Rebel T3i that my lovely husband got me for Valentine’s Day, on this trip. It would be a travesty if I could not share more of them with you, because a lot of them turned out really well. Also, we visited a lot of things that most of us Americans have no idea exist, and I truly want to share them with you. Rome is so much more than the Colosseum and the Vatican. It is one of the most interesting, complex places I have ever been, and probably falls in the number two spot of top places I have traveled to. We plan on visiting many more times before we leave Italy in 2016, and I have a feeling that the excitement of our first trip will not be any less on trips two, three, or four.

So, I will stop this post here, and resume with When in Rome…part III. I only have a day and a half more to go as far as the trip is concerned, but it will likely lead to a When in Rome…part IV. I’m a story-teller by nature, and am not one to skimp on the details (hello, I am woman after-all, you know we’re naturally long-winded). If you saw my Facebook status updates during our trip, then you know I am saving the best story for last, as something truly amazing happened on our last day. Until then….I ask you bear with me, and stay tuned. Ciao, ciao!

To be continued…

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