And now, on to My Time in Rome: Part 1...
Note: I'm not sure why the pictures are coming up different sizes, but you can click on them to see the full image.
It's a commonly known fact that Rome is expensive. I'll not dispute that. You can definitely spend a ton of money there, especially if you like to shop. Lucky for me, we didn't have a lot of time, and shopping wasn't that high on my list of priorities for Rome. Also lucky for me? My wonderful hubby had basically pre-planned our whole first day, so I didn't have to think about anything! His plan had us walking from the train station to our hotel, which was across the river in Vatican City. Since we had to pack light, there was no need to drop our bags, affording us the opportunity to sight see all day!
Based on our first day, here's a tip. If you don't want to spend a lot of money in Rome, go to the churches! Seriously, almost every church we went into had at least one work by a master artist such as Caravaggio, Rubens, and Raphael. Do your homework ahead of time to figure out which churches have what art. If you like art, churches are the way to go and they're FREE! I mean, if you feel moved to, you can donate, but other than that, it's an incredibly cheap way to see some amazing art. Even the art by less well-known artists were incredible. The churches were ornate and had such a sense of space. Words fail when trying to describe how utterly beautiful they were. So, here is an example of the art you can find for free (most didn't turn out that well, because of the lack of light, so you'll just have to go see for yourself!):
Above: "Ecstasy of St. Theresa" by Bernini
Below: "The Crucifixion of St. Peter" by Carravaggio
I could get into a whole art discussion about this one artist, because Carravaggio's one of my favorites. I took a couple of semesters of art history in college, and I find all things art and architecture fascinating. Rome turned out to be an excellent place to indulge that side of me. And, like I said, a lot of it was free.
Speaking of free, another great way to spend the day is simply walking around the city. It may sound boring, but not only is it a good way to walk off all the yummy food you'll be eating, there are some amazing buildings that literally took my breath away. Really. I gasped several times in amazement. Ancient buildings are tucked away between "new" buildings (like, you know, new ones from the 16th century). You'll most likely stumble upon some of these sites:
If you don't recognize that, it's the Pantheon...you know, an almost 2,000 year old temple-turned-church-turned-tourist-attraction. It's famous for it's dome (pictured on the right), which is still to this day the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. Can you imagine? This was one of the breath-taken-away moments. I was gobsmacked. I'd seen the dome in pictures, but you really just can't imagine the force of it when you see it in person. And, it's FREE!
After you pick your jaw up from the floor and continue walking, you'll likely come across many fountains and large obelisks just standing in the middle of many a piazza. Of course, you'll be looking at history. The fountains all have some sort of beautiful sculpture, most likely by a famous artist like Bernini. Many of the obelisks were either given to the Romans by the Egyptians or taken by the Romans from the Egyptians way back in the day. There's also quite a few columns dedicated to some awesome triumph over different groups of people by different Roman emperors. Those were equally cool. Some examples:
See? That fountain is Trevi Fountain, which had quite a few artists plan and work on it. The final product you see here was a combination of planning by Bernini (who moved the original fountain) and work done by Salvi. It's on most maps, but it's certainly not just out in the open of some huge piazza. The obelisks do tend to be out in the open, and they are plentiful.
You can also take a walk to the Vatican and see St. Peter's Basilica for free, but I'm covering the whole Vatican in another post, so you'll have to wait for pictures of that. If you're into ancient Rome, there are several sites you can see from free, like the Roman Forum (from the outside) and the Coliseum (from the outside). I'll cover these locations in a separate post as well, because we paid to go into the sites. There are loads of other ancient Roman ruins just lying about, though. So, just take a stroll to the part of town near the Colliseum (and brave the droves of people). You're bound to see some amazing things like this:
These were just some ruins lying out in the middle of some more modern buildings. It looked like an excavation that hadn't really been touched in a while. But, when we got up to the signs, we found out that the "curia" or Senate House (not pictured, because it wasn't there) at this site is believed to be the location of the assassination of Julius Caesar!! Seriously, and it's just waiting there for you to find!!!
Next up in the "My Time in Rome" series: The Vatican