Wednesday’s port stop was the one I was looking forward to the most, Rome!!. The Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica and more! For whatever reason cruise ships are not allowed to dock near Rome, so we docked in Civitavecchia. Civitavecchia is an hour away from Rome by train, so we had to be off the boat super early if we wanted to see everything Christine had planned.
We took the train straight to St. Peter’s square, where we found it set up for the Pope’s weekly Wednesday morning mass. Unfortunately on mass days they close down St. Peter’s until 1pm, which completely screwed up our schedule. Since we had TONS of things to see, we left and began working
our way across Rome towards the Pantheon. Along the way I was able to see the amazing juxtaposition that is Rome. What I mean by this is that as you’re walking through Rome you are surrounded by all of this history right? Yet, all of the buildings are surrounded by modern shops or offices or apartments. I’ll be able to show you exactly what I mean when I tell you about the Colosseum. Anyway, back to the story. Our first adventure stop was the Pantheon, so after about a 20 minute walk from St. Peter’s we turned a corner and BOOM, there she was. Let me first tell you how shocked I was at its size. This thing was built in 126AD and is as large and sturdy as some buildings we have around today. Its original purpose was as a temple to the gods, but now it’s the burial site of the first king of United Italy as well as the famous sculptor/painter Raphael, and others. All of the light for the interior of the building is provided by one oculus in the center of the ceiling. It’s a pretty awesome feat that the entire room is lit up by this one circle in the ceiling. Ah ancient architecture, how ahead of your time you were. The square that the Pantheon sits in is amazing as well. There is an enormous obelisk that sits outside, towering and watching over the Pantheon. So beautiful…..
Now for my favorite part of the day. We left the Pantheon and began to go over to the Trevi Fountain. Of everything we saw on the entire trip, this is what blew me away. I’d seen pictures of the fountain previously, but nothing prepared me for the exquisite perfection that is the Trevi Fountain. Legend has it that if you throw (backwards over your shoulder) coins into the fountain that it guarantees you’ll return to Italy some day. With that in mind I marched Todd to the water’s edge and proceeded to keep dumping change into his hands.
We split up the pile and I wished with all my might that I could someday get back to see this fountain again. I was so moved when I turned the corner and first saw it that it literally knocked the wind out of me and I won’t lie I shed a tear or two at the sheer beauty of it. The fountain was designed in the Baroque style back in 1762 and is the largest of its kind within Rome. When I had originally seen pictures of the fountain I had no idea that it was almost 86 feet high! It just towers over all of the gelato shops that surround it. Fearing that we didn’t have enough time to complete everything, we took our pictures, threw our coins, basked in the beauty of the fountain, then hightailed it in the direction of the Colosseum.
Now remember when I told you that I could show you easier the juxtaposition that is Rome when talking about the Colosseum? Well here we go! In order to get to the Colosseum you must walk through the ruins of the Roman forum. Dead smack in the middle of these ancient ruins is a HUGE memorial dedicated to the first King of United Italy. It’s really fascinating that as you walk through what’s left of this enormously powerful ancient culture, you find a huge symbol of modern-day power built in thick marble that will most likely stand the test of time. Seeing these pieces side by side really made me stop and reflect on everything that we were seeing that day. This juxtaposition of old and new is all throughout Rome and I think it’s one of the reasons why I liked Rome best of all the ports.
After my little reflection time we walked down the street from the memorial and walked right smack into the Colosseum. It’s such a shame to see it crumbling apart. We found out on our audio tour that many of the buildings (St. Peter’s being one of them) in Rome were built using stones from the Colosseum. It wasn’t until one of the Popes decided that it should be preserved that this practice was stopped. Christine was telling us that the last time she was there much of the basement where they kept the slaves/animals hadn’t been opened up, so she was excited that we got to see it totally open. We heard on the audio tour that back when it was still being used in ancient days a whale had washed up on the shore and it was decided that it should be used in a show at the Colosseum. Something like 40 bears were put inside the belly of the dead whale and when it was hoisted onto the stage they opened the mouth of the whale, let the bears out, and watched them fight to the death. Some crazy shit happened at the Colosseum. We were all starving after touring, so we looked for a place to grab some lunch. Let me tell you, we had the best spot in the house. Take a look…
It was the perfect end to the morning. We had some beers and pasta and had the most amazing view you could ever imagine. (PS Todd got a margarita pizza for lunch and it was the BEST pizza I’ve ever eaten in my entire life – pic will be at the bottom of the post) After lunch we hopped into a cab and headed back to St. Peter’s to end our tour of Rome.
I have never in my entire life seen a line longer than the one we got on to enter the Vatican. Holy crap. Please look up a map of St. Peter’s Square and find out what the square footage is. Then imagine a line that snaked around the entire square more than one full-time. It was insane. After waiting on the line for what seemed like forever, we made it up to the security checkpoint and into the Vatican. St. Peter’s Basilica is filled with more statues, paintings, frescos, murals, and tombs then I ever thought could possibly comfortably fit into a building. It is by no means crowded with them, but every inch of wall space has some type of art upon it. I can’t even fathom the length of time it must have taken for each piece to be completed. If you, my readers, ever make it to Rome I highly suggest you see this church. Even if you’re not a religious person, you have to go for the artwork alone. You will be astounded by its grandeur. I have so many pictures of so many random things inside the Basilica. If you want to see some, shoot me an email, I’d be more than happy to share!
Following our trip through the Basilica we stopped for a quick cappuccino and hopped back on the train for the hour-long ride back to Civitavecchia. The Italian countryside is SO green in this area. All throughout the trip that was one thing that constantly stood out to me, even when driving down their highways. In the area’s that we had traveled to up to this point we had beautiful scenery as our backdrop. It was utterly picturesque.
Once we were back on the boat we decided on a quick nap and then it was off to the Svedka Ice Bar!!! When they tell you that these places are cold, holy crap are they cold. My sister and I made it all of 20 minutes in the bar, while Todd, Jason, and Mark lasted closer to 50. (Mad props go out to you three for staying in there that long!) Everything in the bar is literally made of ice. The bar, shelves for the liquor, seats, and yes, even the drink glasses! There were ice benches and ice sculptures of polar bears and vikings, and even an ice throne! It was the best $20 I’ve ever spent. After the ice bar we headed to dinner which was followed by bowling. Yes, I said bowling! Todd, Jason, and I were feeling antsy and so instead of heading to bed headed to one of the six bowling lanes on the ship. You’d think that bowling on a rocking ship would be difficult, but to be honest it didn’t feel any different to me. We went to our favorite bar on the ship following our game, had some drinks, and found our way back to our beds around 12:30am. The entire day easily makes the top three best days of my entire life.