Historic Rome is a thriving metropolis located at a bend in the Tiber River. The city of Rome was created from elements of art, architecture, science, and culture histories, all of which are still abundant throughout. It was the center of Christianity during the Renaissance and Baroque Periods as well as the headquarters of the most powerful empires of the world. On June 19, 2007, my daughters and I, along with some friends, cruised via Royal Caribbeans’s Voyager of the Seas to Civitavecchia. This was one of the most gorgeous cruise ports I had been to and the gateway to traveling to Rome. We hired Viator to take a total of 8 of us on a private tour of the most popular spots in Rome. Our tour was aboard a Mercedes bus which drove us 90 minutes to downtown.
Historic Rome plays tribute to the most advanced developments in European culture and history springs up from nearly every crevice.
In ancient times, a temple on the Capitoline Hill was dedicated to Jupiter. At that time, it could be reached by the winding roads leading from the Forum, but today you climb stairs created and designed by Michelangelo. My high school history lessons came back to me in a snap as we traveled halfway between Palatine and Capitoline Hills to the Roman Forum and other 6th century buildings. Our guide shared with us a book that offered drawings of what the Forum might have looked like in its prime; but with a bit of imagination, we could still make out the majority of it. Many of the sites we graced were of religious ceremonies and political developments. The buildings went into deterioration after the fall of the Roman Empire, but people still flock there by the masses to see the remains. Situated on the Forum you will see the Temple of Saturn, Septimius Severus, and the Tempe of Vespasian.
Other major points of interest in historic Rome along the way were the Spanish Steps, Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Arch of Constantine (next to the Colosseum), and the Pyramid of Cestius. Of course Rome also contains many beautiful piazzas. The only thing we did not make it to see on this tour was the Pantheon because we simply ran out of time.
We did allow 3 hours of our tour to drive into Vatican City, an independent state within the city of Rome, and have a private tour of the prestigious Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel. Perhaps the biggest highlight of this side trip to Vatican City was seeing the Pieta by Michelangelo, and witnessing the exuberance of its Basilicas. During our visit, the death of a clergy member had occurred, forcing all the neighboring holy people into St. Peter’s Square. We missed seeing the Pope by only 30 minutes. Time was also allotted for us to have an authentic Italian meal at a local restaurant, which our guide chose perfectly.
My favorite site in Rome was the Colosseum, a most impressive building of the Roman Empire. I could just imagine the hoards of people coming out to watch the Roman gladiators battle inside the gates. The Colosseum, opened in 404 AD, had 76 entrances and could hold 50,000 spectators. Other things that took place inside the Colosseum were re-enactments of battles, executions, dramas, and animal hunts. Games ran until mid 6th century and it is estimated that during its course, one million wild animals and 500,000 people lost their lives. True fact, you might see people dressed in gladiator costumes that you can have a photo-op made, with for a slight fee.
The biggest surprise was when our guide took us to a small church off the Appian Way (high school history coming back into play) called Church of Domine Quo Vadis, where Saint Peter met Jesus while fleeing persecution in Rome. Two footprints in marble (now only a replica of the original) are thought to be those of Jesus.
Witnessing the amazing sites of historic Rome was a treat for all of us and filled us with lasting memories and images that blaze the pages of our history books today. Make sure to look for architectural gems that are not as crowded such as Piazza Venezia, Castel Sant’ Angelo, and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. For me, the beauty of the world famous landmarks and watching my daughters toss coins into Trevi Fountain, the most beautiful and recognized fountain in the world, were the real pleasures of our trip. Have you been to Rome and if so, what was your favorite thing to see?
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