Last week, Lisa and I had an opportunity to spend the weekend in Rome, just the two of us. It was work that brought Lisa to Rome in the first place, but since she was already there, we decided to make a weekend out of it. So, on Thursday night, I hopped on a plane and met up with her.
We spent the weekend taking in the sight, sounds, and scents of this beautiful ancient city. For three days we wandered the streets, visited iconic places like the Pantheon, the Coliseum, Palatine Hill, the spot where Rome was founded, the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Each day brought new adventures and new memories.
I just love being in places where everywhere you look seems like a postcard. My eye would go from beautiful sculptures that seem to be everywhere, to ancient cobblestone on the streets, to piazza’s filled with artists selling their wares or musicians busking for the passersby. We drank lovely wine and spritzers (which were new to us and are made from equal parts prosecco, apelon, and mineral water), and ate amazing authentic Italian cuisine.
Each time we went into a building, whether it was a church, museum or other, you could feel the historical energy all around you. Take, for example, the Coliseum. Of course we had heard the stories of what went on in there, but standing there on the inside, looking at the ancient hallways of the under stage where animals and gladiators waited and prepared for their performances, or the places where the emperor would give the thumbs up or thumbs down to seal a loser’s fate, or the stands where blood thirsty spectators would spend the day being “entertained” with exhibitions of executions or fights to the death brought the whole history to life. Suddenly the reality of all of those stories is staring right back at you. As our guide recounted stories of the history beneath our feet and all around us, our minds were filled with the ideas of what it must have been like in its heyday.
Across the street from the Coliseum, past Constantine’s Victory Arch, is Palatine Hill, the site of Rome’s foundation by Romulus (who named the city after himself) and Remus, the two twins who were rescued and suckled by a she wolf. What started out as a tiny village grew into the most powerful nation the world had ever known; one which changed the course of mankind forever. Story after story filled our ears and expanded our understanding of what an amazing world we live in. And although we took hundreds of pictures in an effort capture all we were exposed to, we didn’t even scratch the surface of all there is to see, learn and experience in the one-time epicenter of the world.
St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world, is almost beyond comprehension in its scale and grandiosity. Around the base of its largest dome are latin words, the letters of which are 12 feet tall yet from our lowly perspective on the ground level seem to be a mere fraction of that. The top of the dome is over 440 feet above the floor. The church is so big it can hold 60,000 people! Outside 400,000 people can gather to listen to the Pope deliver his speeches, or witness the smoke from the chimney indicating when a new Pope has been elected. It truly is a magnificent man-made wonder to behold. The thought and detail that went into each and every inch of it is quite simply mind blowing.
Lisa and I have had the luxury of visiting many European cities by now, but Rome stands out as one of our absolute favorites. At some point in our lives we will return to try and take in a bit more of all it has to offer. Until then, we have many fond memories and loads of pictures to add to our ever-growing collection. Below is a small sample of some of what we got to experience. Vini, vidi, vinci!
Bonus for my Sigma Chi brothers…In Hoc