When in Rome…
Another early day today, we docked in Civitavecchia, Italy – the only port more important to us than Pisa. We were in port from 7am-8pm and we spent twelve of those thirteen hours on one excursion. At $185 each, this was our most expensive excursion, but we decided from the start that we wanted to maximize our time in Rome, skip the lines and our tour had to include the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. In doing so, we had to sacrifice some things it would have been great to see. However, we still expected a fabulous day in Rome and that’s exactly what we got!
The bus ride from the Porto di Civitavecchia into Rome was about 90 minutes, with the round trip using up three of our twelve hours. Once we arrived in Rome, our guide gave us a tour as we passed through the city and by many very important and beautiful buildings. I apologize for some of the shaky shots, but the photos in the beginning are taken through the tour bus windows, and that’s what happens when you only have twelve, or should I say nine hours to see a city as wonderful as this. Somewhere down the road I would love to spend 4-5 days here to see some of the things we just whizzed by this time.
This post will cover some of the fabulous buildings we passed by and my next post will concentrate more on the buildings we were able to enter and see up close. I have done my best to put names with most pictures, but the others are too pretty to exclude just because I don’t know what they are. Please note I will not be offended if you are reading this, or any of my blog posts for that matter, and you see an error or an omission. Just sign in and post a comment and I will get it fixed right away.
We drove by Pyramid of Caius Cestius, which was covered in scaffolding. My photo was blurry and the scaffolding hideous, but the story is interesting. Since anything Egyptian had become fashionable after Rome conquered Egypt in 30 BC, the rich magistrate Caius Cestius Epulonius modeled his tomb after the Egyptian pyramids. Only the three Egyptian pyramids of Gizeh are taller than this Roman imitation. For some good pictures and the whole story, click here.
It took a while for Rome to put up a Monument to Giuseppe Mazzini, since he was loved, but also hated. “Giuseppe Mazzini was a Genoese propagandist and revolutionary, founder of the secret revolutionary society Young Italy (1832), and a champion of the movement for Italian unity known as the Risorgimento. An uncompromising republican, he refused to participate in the parliamentary government that was established under the monarchy of the House of Savoy when Italy became unified and independent (1861).” – READ MORE
San Nicola in Carcere is a fine-looking church, rebuilt in 1599 with a new façade. The medieval campanile (bell tower), originally a fortified tower, was left as is. Stairs under the altar lead to the crypt and to the base of the former Roman temples.
Located at Piazza Venezia, the central hub of Rome, the Altare della Patria – also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II or “Il Vittoriano” is a monument built to honor Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy. Climb the stairs to the top of the monument for great views of Rome.
Capitoline Hill is the smallest of the “Seven Hills of Rome” but is considered to have been the most sacred. It was the citadel (fortress that commands the city) of the earliest Romans. There is lots of great information about Capitoline Hill here.
The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch in Rome, situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It was built by the Roman Senate to memorialize a victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312. Almost 70-feet high, this Roman structure is made up of three arches and is decorated with figures and battle scenes. Read more here.
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is the largest Catholic Marian church in Rome (hence the Maggiore – Major – in its name). It is sometimes referred to as Our Lady of the Snows. Legend has it that during the reign of Pope Liberius in the mid 300s, a Roman aristocrat and his wife had no children, so they vowed to donate their possessions to the Virgin Mary. They prayed that she send them a sign so they would know how to proceed with their promise. One night in the middle of the summer, snow fell on the summit of the Esquiline Hill. The couple built a basilica in honor of Mary on that very spot.
Probably the most well known landmark in Italy, is The Colosseum. Built in 80 AD, this elliptical amphitheatre is built of concrete and stone and is the largest amphitheatre in the world. The Colosseum is considered one of the greatest works of architecture and engineering and was used for contests between gladiators, executions and other public happenings.
“The elliptical building is immense, measuring approximately 600 ft x 500 ft and reaching a height of more than 160 ft. The magnificent structure was clad in marble and 160 larger-than-life statues graced the arches on the upper floors. The Colosseum could accommodate some 55,000 spectators who entered the building through no less than 80 entrances. Above the ground are four stories, the upper story contained seating for lower classes and women. The lowest story was preserved for prominent citizens. Below the ground were rooms with mechanical devices and cages containing wild animals. The cages could be hoisted, enabling the animals to appear in the middle of the arena.” – READ MORE
Porta del Popolo is one of many gates of the Aurelian Walls. I don’t have any good pictures of the Aurelian Wall, but some great information can be found here.
Well, that’s all I’m going to jam-pack into this post. There is so much to see, it’s just amazing, so I think there may be at least two more posts about Rome.
When in Rome… take hundreds of pictures!
Next up: Stone Pine Trees