Thursday, August 19, 2010
When you drive into Rome, the first thing you notice are the umbrella pines. And the bug guts on the windshield. :( But mostly, it's the pines.
And then the sun... it's different in Rome, if you can believe that. It was radiant and spraying everywhere. It felt like a sign... as if we had finally arrived somehow. I let myself imagine that the sun always looks so radiant in Rome. The haze of pollution had nothing to do with it, I'm sure. Ahem.
We were a little naive to think we could just drive to Rome. It's a major metropolitan city. Sure, we had driven in other major cities in the past, cities where we had been advised not to-- New York City, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin. We had just driven around Florence a couple days before, so why would driving in Rome be such a big deal? I mean, it's just driving, right?
Wrong. To drive in Rome you need to have a death wish. And you need to know where you're going. We were sort of lacking in both departments. We barely made it alive to our bungalo, and that only involved driving in the large loop that went around Rome. The crazy drivers in N. Italy have nothing on the ones in Rome. It was completely nuts!! That, and Wrong-way Rhonda, our GPS, was practically no help whatsoever. Apparently she has never been to Rome either.
The first thing we did was make it to our bungalo, which in reality turned out to be a mobile home, only a ten minute walk from the Mediterranean Sea. It was so nice to not have to set up the tent and start a campfire! The first thing I managed to do was walk into a tree and give myself a bloody nose. Can you imagine?! I had only reached into the car to grab out our travel books, and when I turned around-- WHAM! I had forgotten exactly how close we had parked to that tree.
After we all stopped laughing, and of course I stopped bleeding, we made dinner and combed through the travel books in attempt to plan our day-- our excursion in Rome had been reduced to one single day--- and there was way too much to see. I kept reminding myself that because Rome had not been built in a day, it therefore could not be seen in a day. But of course we had to try anyway.
First item on the agenda, after navigating the series of buses and trams to get into the city: meeting an old, dear friend of mine near the Colosseum. Meeting her necessitated walking around the Colosseum. Our eyes were gaping at the sights! And I was grinning a mile wide-- we're in ROME! We're actually in ROME!! It was unbelievable, and it looked like this:
Even the ground was pretty. It seemed like everywhere I looked my brain registered form drawings... ones we had done, or ones we could do in the future. This one we did a variation on last year as fish scales in the story of Atlantis:
It was then that we met up with my dear friend P and her beau. She and I met during our senior year of high school when we were both hired to work the concession stand at a movie theater. We became fast friends and stayed close through college-- we were even roomies at one point. We both moved away, and the last time I saw her was at my wedding. She made a beautiful bridesmaid. When I heard she was going to be in Rome the same week we would be in Italy, we just had to meet up!!
After a brief respite from the heat, and boy was it HOT, we headed back out to explore the Roman ruins. We walked back around the other side of the Colosseum, and I couldn't stop snapping pictures. It was truly incredible!
There was a mad throng of tourists, and although we bought tickets, the line to get into the Colosseum was hours long. Since P had already been a day prior, we decided to skip the waiting and spend time visiting while we meandered around the Roman Forum, also included on our entrance ticket, just up the hill. It was fantastic!! There was so much to see everywhere we looked.
Yes, there was even wedding pictures being taken here in Ancient Rome. It struck me as kind of strange... and yet I couldn't help myself from snapping a picture. I kept thinking how dirty her dress was going to get (am I a mom or what?!!), but I bet they got some lovely pictures.
From the Roman Forum we had this breathtaking view of the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine. I couldn't choose which ones to show you-- I think together they really give a good feel for how immense and impressive these structures actually are.
And walking around just inside the entrance to the forum:
Archaeology in progress:
Above, carving detail inside another arch. Below... the green door with purple columns that had us all enchanted. It's the Temple of Romulus, and it boasts the oldest functioning lock.
Looking back over the forum:
It was truly something to behold all of this! But with only one day in Rome, time was a-wasting. We headed off in search of lunch, shade, and cold drinks.... it was good to rest our legs after such an action packed few days... and so much more of Rome left to see that afternoon!
Next installments: modern Ancient Rome and the Vatican....