Rome is a little inland from the ocean so we ported at a town called Civitavecchia. There isn't a whole lot to do in this town. Cruise ships stop here because of its proximity to Rome. So if you book a Western Mediterranean cruise on it and it says Civitavecchia, that is your Rome stop and you should make every effort to make it there.
Why? Because of this shot right here. This is just a bus stop on any old street in Rome. Nothing really stands out and makes it special. Only the 2,000 year old columns from an ancient building next to 500 year old house on the right with a 50 year old street light illuminating the street that has probably been used for traffic in some form for over 2,500 years. This is Rome. Thousands and thousands of years of history and different eras and time periods crowded and mashed together forming this hodgepodge of architectural chaos that is seemingly alive and beautiful.
Our path in Rome took us by Capitoline Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. It's also where we get our word for capitol.
There is evidence, like this ancient oven and brick structure, that Capitoline Hill has been settled for over 4,000 years. This here has been dated to over 3,000 years old and it just is on the street where you walk by on the sidewalk, plain as day.
This monstrosity is the Altare della Patria, a monument completed in 1925 to the first king of Italy after its unification. This building has caused major controversy due to the fact that to make room for it many ancient and medieval buildings were destroyed. It is the biggest structure in Rome and its white marble facade makes it stick out like a sore thumb.
Rome has all its major tourist attractions, but when you wander the streets, off the beaten track, you can find things like this - buildings with your name on it and ancient excavations in the middle of regular Roman neighborhoods.
This is the Pantheon. It is the most well preserved building from ancient Rome. Built between 27 BC and 14 AD, it has been in continuous use since it was constructed 2,000 years ago.
Here I am with the kidlets inside. It is breathtaking! All the marble and the columns just amaze me.
Here is the real marvel though. This geometrically perfect semi-circle roof that reaches a point in the center for light to come in. This roof is completely self-supporting. It has no columns at all. I wonder how many of our concrete buildings will be standing in 2,000 years.
Rome is famous for its fountains and the fresh water they bring into the city. While they are no longer the main source of water for drinking and bathing for Rome's citizens, they have come to epitomize Rome and are guarded as national treasures. This is the Fontana die Quattro Fiumi fountain situated in the Piazza Navona.
It is a pretty nice place to hang out and to have a snack. Obviously.
Next we ran over to the Colosseum, the iconic symbol of Italy and Rome.
The Colosseum is the largest amphitheater in the world. It is truly amazing. I feel like I say that a lot. That something is truly amazing, but that is really how I feel. These places just blow me away and sometimes all I am left with is, "Amazing!"
The Colosseum was built in 80 AD and had many uses. I am sure you have heard about the gladiators and chariot races and lion fighting, like I have. Ancient Rome seems like a pretty violent place.
The Colosseum was currently being cleaned and stabilized. The south wall collapsed back in 1349 when a great earthquake struck Rome. Scavengers took the fallen stone to build other structures through out Rome.
Across from the Colosseum and built into the side of a hill is the impressive and large Forum. The Forum was the center of Roman life.
The Forum originally started as an open air marketplace, but it quickly outgrew that need as political speeches and government service took up more and more room. It eventually became the center for all political and judicial life in the the city.
The Forum was used from the 7th century BC until the 13th century AD, when the buildings, which had mostly been abandoned, were dismantled for their stone and the site became a dumping place and cattle pen.
Excavation of the Forum began in the late 1700's with the current excavation ending in the 20th century. Ruins from different centuries are shown together due to the Romans tendency to build on former building sites.
We saw the ruins for the Temple of the Vestal Virgins.
And ruins for other temples and court houses.
And the ruins for the Temple of Caesar, a temple built for Julius Caesar after he was murdered nearby on the steps of the senate.
We saw the 2,000 year old Roman Senate building which was largely left intact due to the fact it was turned into a church.
We saw so much history packed into one area the size of a basic city block. It was mind-blowing to think of all the things that had happened in that area in the last 2,700 years since it was used.
The sun was beginning to set on an absolutely perfect day. I stood in the middle of the ancient Roman Forum feeling so small. So insignificant. But yet so lucky to have seen this place. To read about the people who lived and worked here.
And of course, I continued to take pictures.
The golden, winter sun warming the roofs of Rome. I can see why my good friend Rick Steves calls this place Bella Roma, or beautiful Rome.
And in such a beautiful place, what does one do? Take pictures of the ones you love in a beautiful place, of course.
All my peeps.
More people I love. Mr. and Mrs. Point with their kidlets.
I had one last look around the Forum. The fact that the sun was setting right as I took one last glance around the Forum added a kind of finishing effect to the day. I stood quietly in the practically deserted Forum and thought one last time about all the people who had lived here, worked here, and died here. Could I hear them still? Did their voices echo here after all these years? Did they walk the ancient streets? Would people know in 100 years that I stood here once? Probably not. I did not leave a mark on Rome to let people of the future know that "I was here." But Rome left its mark on me. I think it is one of my favorite, if not my favorite city we have visited here in Europe. Make sure you get out and see it.