If you have been following this blog series from the beginning, then you know that my first trip to Italy was when I was 18 years old. In anticipation of my return to Rome, I wasn’t sure whether the memories I had from all those years ago, would live up to the reality of a visit to Rome today.
In 2000, I was in Rome for the World Youth Day. Hundreds of thousands of young Catholics made the pilgrimage to Rome from all around the world. The city was crowded, everywhere we went we were met with wall-to-wall people. The city was alive with an energy like I had never experienced before and probably never have since. And I was in the thick of it! Exploring a new country, learning about the roots of our faith, and discovering history that predates the US by thousands of years. All of this, and I got to experience it alongside some of the greatest humans I have had the pleasure of encountering in my life.
Standing in St. Peter’s Square this summer, I was immediately transported back to that scene. My whole body covered in chills. I quickly came to realize that it’s Rome itself that has its effect on me. There is no place else like it. And it was my pleasure to be able to show Frank around this city that I love so dearly. Here are some of my favorite camera and iPhone images from Rome and Vatican City.
In Rome, we stayed at a hotel that was once a Roman castle, built in 800 AD. Walking from our hotel, we would pass the Pantheon. An architecturally perfect structure, built in 120 AD and still standing in perfect form as it was on the day of its completion. There are Roman ruins scattered throughout the city, some used as part of newer structures and others remain where they had fallen in remembrance of this country’s historical triumphs and downfalls. We spent one full day just “roaming around”….you see what I did there?! Taking in sights such as the Capital, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. We spent another day touring the Colosseum and Roman Forum. It was much brighter (or cleaner) than I had remembered it. Then our tour guide told us that one of Italy’s billionaire shoe designers paid to have the Colosseum “washed and cleaned”, among other restoration efforts happening inside the structure.
The very last day of our trip was spent in Vatican City. Frank was most looking forward to this experience. He had hoped to see the Pope, but his audiences with the public were postponed in July and August. Most likely due to the crazy hot and humid days that time of year. Our tour guide to the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basillica, Paolo, was amazing. We spent hours walking through the Vatican Museum, looking at art, talking history, and seeing the Sistene Chapel up close. Then a few hours into the tour he said, “And this is about the time that Christopher Columbus discovered America”. Mind. blown. I think that moment really put it in perspective for me. Here we were, in this country whose history, richness and culture, predates the US by thousands of years. It makes you feel as if a whole new world has opened up to you and makes you realize how your perspective of the world is so small.
At the end of the tour, we were able to explore St. Peter’s Basillica, including a climb up to the very top of the dome. God bless Frank and his adventurous spirit….but I could have killed him as I almost passed out in the sweltering, narrow stairwell leading up to the copula. But, we made it! And Frank captured an amazing shot of St. Peter’s Square from 440 feet above the ground! #WorthIt
If you have followed this series from the beginning, my heartfelt thanks to you for reading all of my travel rants! If you are considering a trip to Italy, stop considering and get yourself booked! It is such an amazing country. Whether you decide to tour it on your own or find guides along the way or a mix of both like we did, you won’t be disappointed by all the beauty and adventure that awaits you!
I know I am looking forward to experiencing this beautiful country again sometime. Until then, Arrivederci Roma! Thank you for your hospitality and for all the wonderful memories.