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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”.
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.
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.
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.
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…