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Rome: Three days in the Eternal City

Last updated 9 November 2020

Rome is a remarkable city, layered with the remnants of so many past ages. It's busy and noisy, full of people, scooters and pollution. Throngs of tourists surge through the narrow streets and wind their way around the Colosseum and the Vatican. And in their midst, down so many streets, are more and more of the ancient ruins.

Our time in Rome was is wandering the streets, stopping in a strange church, a lost temple, and numerous ancient sites. The Colosseum is a highlight and, skipping the queues, we go underground, following the gladiatorial tunnels, then making our way up to the top for the spectacular view of Rome.

Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum involve walking through a park on the hills, with ruins peeking through. The Forum is filled with the remains of temples and pillars strewn through the grass and flowers, like a graveyard to ancient Rome. Peaceful. Sacred.

Evening strolls along the Tiber are beautiful, buskers in the background, the sun setting over the Vatican. We linger on a bridge at sunset, watching the light hit the water, while a busker plays Stairway to Heaven somewhere behind us. It’s a poignant, magical moment.

After dinner, we go for an evening stroll. We make our way through the streets to the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps, with just enough people around for a festive atmosphere, but no real crowds.

The next day we see the same attractions by day and decide we prefer them at night. We walk across the river to the Vatican and stare at the crowds. For lunch we have a wonderful antipasto platter and discover that food in Rome is very different from food in Tuscany. Then we wander down to the Capuchin Crypts.

The Crypts are in six chapels, five of which are decorated with the bones of dead monks. It’s strangely beautiful and incredibly disturbing at the same time. It is a sobering experience, but also oddly peaceful.

We eventually find the Pantheon, the building full of people; the gods all reworked as saints. As a longtime student of ancient Rome, it almost breaks my heart.

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