Day 3 – Monday July 2
Our first day traveling and seeing Rome
First day in Rome we are up bright and early to hit the city. We drop our bags off at a bag check location near the train station and jump on the Metro. We had purchased the Roma Pass which allows for unlimited rides on the city metro and discounted entry fees. The main train station of Rome is a huge place and no one seemed to know where exactly we could pick up our pass at. After searching all over we finally found the office completely opposite of where every sign said it should be. I must admit I felt like we were competing on the Amazing Race more than once.
Now with pass in hand we had to south Rome for our first stop at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.
Our first church…St. Paul’s Outside the Walls
Nothing could prepare us for the magnitude of the church. It is huge! Being earlier in the morning we had the place practically to ourselves. Art was everywhere! On the floor, on the walls, and especially on the ceiling! I have never seen such detailed craftsmanship and to think all this was done by hand many centuries ago! We were complexly overwhelmed and this was only the first stop (of many!)
Since we were south of the city we decided to keep heading south to walk on the historical Appian Way (the original Roman road). We stopped at the Protestant Cemetery right outside of the metro stop. It was really amazing to walk among the elaborate grave markers and read (some were in English) the inscriptions. We saw the graves of Keats and Shelly along with the Pyramid of Gaius Cestius which was built in the 1st century BC. We had a difficult time attempting to fathom how old that really is!!
The Appian Way
Next stop along the Appian Way was the Baths of Caracalla. If we thought the church of St. Paul’s was huge this was beyond gargantuan! Unfortunatly these are in an advanced state of ruin so it is difficult to picture what it must have looked like but the remaining walls of bare brick are massive! Everywhere we went there were excavated mosaics and sculptures. They are in the process of restoring the mosaics floors that were recently excavated. It was awe-inspiring and erie to walk around in the silent ruins that have stood for nearly 2,000 years. Again it didn’t seem quite real. It took quite a while for our brains to process what we were seeing. Even in a near complete state of ruin, the baths were magnificent!
Time to move even further south with the goal of seeing the famed catacombs and walking on the original Roman road. It was getting hot so we decided to take the bus down to the catacombs and then walk back up. We waited and waited and waited and waited. No bus going our direction. We decided to hoof it and see if we could catch the bus at a later stop. The bus finally came about 1/4 mile away from the catacombs (and after we had walked two miles on a busy street with no side walks).
We made it to the catacombs!
The catacombs were completely worth the long trek out. At least they were cool. We saw the carved inscriptions covering the niches. I took a few pictures to take back to my colleague who teaches Latin to see what the say. We heard that there are over 60,000 known grave sites and over a third of them were for children and infants. We saw the foundations of the church of Constatine which would have been one of the first Christian churches in Rome. All the history that we could touch was almost too much.
Emerging for the catacombs we had a nice lunch in the shade and took a taxi ride back to the center of town.
We toured the Capitoline museum which was built on one of the seven hills of Rome in a piazza designed by Michelangelo. It was quite something to actually see the original statues and carvings of many pieces that I had studied in high school. Standing eye to eye with the originals of Julius and Augustus is something I will never forget. After long hall ways of one ancient sculpture after another it got to where they started to look the same. However seeing the original Michelangelo statue of Marcus Aurelius on horseback was very impressive!
The back of the museum was built on top of the ruins of the Tabletorium (archives) of the Roman empire. Since this was built up on a hill, the views were stunning. There it was the Roman forum. I didn’t know what to think. Kirstin had been to Rome before (19 years ago) but she had not been on the hill looking straight down into the forum. To think that this was the same area that had been walked by Caesars was awe-inspiring. No pictures will ever do this site justice, it has to be seen with your own eyes.
This was enough for one day. Time to head back to our flat. After a stop (or two) for gelato we get moved in to our flat and call it a day. It was long, it was tiring, it was amazing!
Miles for the day: 13.1
Total Miles: 13.1
Flights Climbed: 36