Initial thoughts on Rome -
Population of Manarola, Cinque Terre - 350.
Population of Rome - 2.8 million.
Make sure your horn works. Check every 5 seconds or so.
Park... Anywhere. Including the boulevard in the middle of the road.
Unlike Bill Murray told the ground hog in Groundhog Day, in Rome you should drive angry.
Cross the street anywhere. At anytime. Even against the light. Get angry if a car almost hits you.
Rome is a city. It's a big city, and it knows it. If you're not moving quickly up the subway escalator, get out of the way. If you want to cross at a designated cross walk, put your head down and walk across the road like you own it. If you want to see incredible historical sights, just walk at most 10 minutes, and you're bound to run into one.
It felt like the oldest and best sights we had seen in other cities were the secondary attractions in Rome. And when you factor in the colosseum, Palatine hill, Trevi fountain, Vatican city and all the other amazing sites around town, it's easy to understand why.
We were a little... Anxious our first day, having just been in a natural paradise. It's like going from your cottage in northern Ontario to Toronto. A bit of a mental shift is necessary. We had to rediscover map reading, and figure out how to navigate a big city again, versus navigating the trails between small villages.
But your intrepid travelers soon mastered the town and it's transit system. We even managed to take a shuttle bus home at midnight when the subway had shut down. The bus drivers here are nuts.
The full passion of Italy was evident, though. Both in the historical sights, as well as the people that go about their daily lives here.
The colosseum was by far our favourite sight. It's absolutely incredible the engineering and architecture that went into this 2000 year old structure that, were it not for looting, would likely look the same as it did 2000 years ago. It's still pretty easy to grasp the enormity of the building from inside. Though not big enough to fit a football field, baseball diamond or even a hockey rink in the actual playing area, the size of the seating area would easily rival most MLB stadiums today.
And they would have been siting on marble. I think that's even out of the Yankees budget.
The ruins were all paying tribute to/shedding light on the life of Nero. A brilliant, albeit complicated man who really was the beginning of the golden age of Rome, after the great fire of 64 (note that's not '64, that's just 64). Of course the jury is still out on whether he started it himself or not...
We're on our train to Naples now, and are looking forward to exploring Pompeii tomorrow. We leave with pictures of buildings that have been admired for thousands of years, and still older buildings that are still being unearthed. Maybe sometime, years from now, we'll go back to see everything new that has been discovered.
Oh, and for those who knew and are wondering, we're almost decided/booked for our three yet-to-be decided nights in Greece. We'll keep you posted.. :-)
Until then, Ciao everyone :-)