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Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Italy, Day 6, May 16, 2024

Guess what?  We were up early again.  :)  Well not too early.  I had scheduled a 3:00 PM tour of the Coliseum so we didn't have anywhere to be until then BUT, you can't sleep in when there's so much to see!

We (Dan) spent hours pouring over Google maps before the trip to plan the perfect day of sightseeing before our tour of the Coliseum.  He started at our apartment and used the Coliseum as an endpoint and added everything we wanted to see between the two places.  And between Dan and Google Maps, we had plotted the perfect walking course. 

Our first stop along our route was the Pantheon.  Again, I'm always shocked at how you can just be walking along and there is a structure that is 2,000 years old.  The Pantheon was dedicated in the year 126 AD so it was built prior to that.  It was built by Emperor Hadrian on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Ceaser Augustus (great nephew of Julius Ceaser) after the earlier temple burned down.  Hadrian left the original temple inscription which is why it's exact build date isn't known. 

It's one of the best preserved of all the ancient Roman structures because it's been in continuous use since it was built. Inside is the Church of St. Mary and the Martyrs and has been operating as a Catholic church since the 600s.  Fun fact - the portico is still the world's largest unsupported dome.  How's that for ancient engineering?! Please note that we did not do a tour inside the Pantheon.  I wish we would have but time was limited.  That just leaves us something to check out the next time we visit!  :)

Our next stop was the Spanish Steps. The steps are 135 steps between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and the Piazza Trinita dei Monti at the top.  And the Tinita dei Monti Church (and a gorgeous view) is your reward after climbing all the steps. The stairs were built in 1735. After checking out the view from the top of the Piazza Trinita and the church we headed to the Trevi Fountain.

The Trevi Fountain was built in 1762 and is the largest Baroque fountain in  Rome and one of the most famous fountains in the world.  We knew it would be crowded and it was.  But I also discovered online that there is a Benetton store right at the fountain and there are great views of the fountain inside.  We found that was true so we got to see some nice views and enjoy the air conditioning.  

We then headed to St. Igatious of Loyola.  This church is known for it's stunning painted ceiling.  It was painted in 1685 by Andrea Pozzo, a Jesuit friar.  It was painted to look like a dome and it is definitely convincing.  They have a giant mirror set up so you can look at it in the mirror without killing your neck.  There's always a long line for that so we opted just to use our necks.  It was magnificent! Our entire trip, I could not get over the fact that every church was so stunning on the inside. 

We then headed to lunch at Abruzzi.  I need to stress again how much I enjoyed eating every meal outside at all these restaurants.  The weather was perfect and I loved watching all the action on the streets.

After lunch, we headed to the Victor Emmanuel II Monument. This is a large national monument built between 1885 and 1935 to honor Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy. We got tickets to the top so we could look out an enjoyed 360 degree views of Rome.  It was definitely worth it to do this.  We stayed up there a long time looking at Rome.  It was beautiful.  Afterwards we went to the outdoor snack patio and got something to drink. We were thirsty and we still had a ways to go.

After this we finally made our way to the Colosseum for our tour of that along with the Forum and Paletine Hill.  We met our tour guide and group.  This tour we had about 20 people in our group.  I definitely recommend smaller tours for everything but this we decided to pay less for this tour since we splurged in Pompeii and the Vatican.  Also, I would always recommend the morning tour if possible.  Our tour guide seemed grumpy as she had already done a morning tour and it was pretty warm that afternoon.  I was hoping for less crowds later in the day but I think any time you go to a tourist attraction in Rome, it will be crowded.

We learned a lot about the Colosseum but the main take away was that while it was used for battles between gladiators, it was also used for shows where they would kill wild animals from Africa.   There's a whole system of tunnels under it to transport gladiators and wild beasts to the floor for the shows.  Also, they used to fill it with water and stage sea battles. Apparently it would be open for a month or two at a time and in addition to "the shows" there would be food, alcohol and prostitutes.  The rulers of Rome used it as a way to keep the people happy.   It was so big on the inside.  I couldn't get over how large it felt. Estimates are that it held 80,000 spectators.

After touring the inside, we headed to the Forum and Paletine Hill where we were treated to more gorgeous views. The Forum was the area where there were  government  buildings, temples, markets, etc and it was a daily gathering place for the early Romans. Paletine Hill which is adjacent to the Forum was the site of Ceaser Augustus' imperial palace. 

After the tour we headed to our favorite time of day - aperitivo at Al Biscione Cafe and then we had dinner at Osteria Pasquina.  

It was another long but wonderful day.  Again, I ended this day feeling very blessed to be in Rome and to be enjoying it with my family. What a gift!

The Pantheon!

We were walking past the Papal Basilica of Saint Lawrence and popped in.

These are the names of people buried under the basilica. 

The Piaza Spagna at the bottom of the Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps

You can see the church at the top.

A school field trip complete with a nun!

Views from the top of the steps

The walk contnues

The Trevi Fountain

The crowds at the fountain.

This was the view of the fountain from a window in the Benetton store!

Outside of Hadrian's Temple

Church of St. Ignatious of Loyola

The gorgeous ceilings inside St. Ignatious

The tomb of St. Robert Bellarmine.

The Altar of St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Chapel of the Crucifix

Lunch with my loves!

When in Rome you have wine with lunch!

Our lunch spot.

Approaching the Victor Emmanuel II Monument

Lots of gorgeous views of Rome from the top of the monument

The birds were not afraid of the humans

My sweet boy repping his Wolf Pack!

We had great views of the Colosseum from the monument.  And that was our next stop!

Back in the time the Colosseum was in use, the facade would have been covered in marble and there would have been a statue under every arch.  The marble was taken off after it stopped being used and was put into other structures.

These were the tunnels that were under the floor of the Colosseum where they led in the gladiators and housed the animals from Africa. 

A family selfie. :)

The Arch of Titus built in 81AD

The Forum

The Forum

The Forum

Deciding on our apertivo spot

This looks good!

Dinner!  And it was a little cool on this night.

When dining outside in Rome, you must always be prepared for a selfie with a vehicle!  And yes, that car really is as close as it appears!