Rome is the capital of Italy and the country’s largest city with over 2.7 million residents. The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula on the Tiber River.
Rome’s history spans 2800 years. It was regarded as one of the birthplaces of western civilization, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, which was the dominant power in the lands bordering the Mediterranean for over seven hundred years from the 1st century BC until the 7th century AD. It is one of the oldest named cities in the world. Rome is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and the home of a sovereign state, the Vatican City within its walls. Today it is an worldwide political and cultural center and is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient world.
Rome is filled with so many sites; it is hard to decide where to begin. I began my visit to the eternal city at the Colosseum. Over 1930 years old, the coliseum was the entertainment location for the city and though most people now associated the Colosseum with gladiators and the violence they displayed, the site was used for theatre and meetings. Looking at the ruins it is hard to imagine how it looks centuries ago with tunnels below a wooden floor that was covered with sand. I learned that in Latin, “arena” means sand and that is why the floor was covered in sand, to hide the blood from the gruesome fights. The Colosseum in its day could hold 50,000 people and was within walking distance to the city center, or Forum.
The Roman Forum continues to awe tourists that walk through the streets that once were home for Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. Filled with the ruins of homes and temples, the Forum is still complete enough to get a feel of how life might have been 200 years ago. Located in the valley between Palatine and Capitoline Hill, this was the center of political activity. This center of the city can be walked by foot, but my advice to you is to go early if your trip to Italy is schedule in the summertime. The scorching sunlight can be extremely draining walking around from the Colosseum. Avoid crowds and go early- oh, and don’t forget your water bottle!
The Pantheon is one of the most spectacular places in the old city. Rather than roaming inside the one room marvel, I enjoy examining the building from the outside. In fact, right across from the pillars is a cute restaurant where I indulged in some caprese followed by an espresso. Drinking my coffee on “Italian time,” I was able to look at the writing surrounding the building that reads “MARCUS AGRIPPA, son of Lucius” (the man who commissioned the project in 126 AD). This inscription on the facade is said to be the only part of the building that was not destroyed. So you might be thinking, well what is the Pantheon? Built as a temple to all the gods of Rome, but was once used as a Roman Catholic Church.