Rome is very much a city in ruins. It is a great city, but what an unfortunate thing is war, to destroy so much of the grandeur of Rome. I am guessing that many of the ruins are from when the western Roman Empire fell in the 600 or 700s. This is a much different city than Paris; where in Paris, everything is largely preserved, but pretty much everything you see is only 200 years old (thanks to the remodeling of Napoleon III), in Rome, all of the major sights are ruins. The Coloseum is a mere shadow of what it used to be in the glory days; the Circus Maximus is nothing more than a sandy park with a median divider that people must imagine used to be the site of hi octane chariot races. The Roman forums are just stumps, an indication that a once incredible empire was run from the pebbles that now lay there. Paris was something spectacular because you could still the see the very grandeur of the French culture; Rome's grandeur is something different entirely; it is an archeological site, which whispers of a distant past, that histories back thousands of years. While its grandeur is no longer, Rome still is amazing.
The Coloseum was grand, even though it is but a shell. Walking inside, I realized that this was a place where countless people died barbaric deaths, to the cheering of a morally degraded society. Such was part of its downfall. The place was amazing, but also equally disgusting, even though I tried my best not to judge those people by my current morality, a moral code that didn't even exist in their time.
Overall, it was a long day, as I opted not to go on public transportation, but to walk it out. I saw the Coloseum, the Roman Forums, the Palatino, the Circus Maximus, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona, to mention only the highlights; boy was it HOT. It was in the 90s, and will be in the 90s for this entire week. Rome has been a sweat fest; however, if I jump on public transportation, I feel like I will miss half of the city, the nooks and crannies.
The Vitorriano was a WOW moment; it is a colossal monument to the modern wars of Italy. It offers fantastic views of the city, even though the hot sun bounced off the white marble unforgivingly. The Pantheon was another wow moment. That was fantastic, and I actually lucked out, because as I was arriving, there was a free concert being put on by a small orchestra and choir. I sat back, and enjoyed my escape from the hot sun for an hour listening to classical music with the great acoustics of the forum.
The Trevi was a nice fountain, but not a wow moment. It was cool to get pics, and I did not throw in a coin; near to the Trevi was one of the most celebrated gelato shops in all of Rome, and perhaps, in all of Italy, called San Crispino. It was a small shop, not overrun with tourists, and I got some blackberry and lemon. I was disappointed because their selection was pretty limited; it only had 15-20 flavors, of which there were really only about 4-5 fruit flavors to choose from. My favorite, mango, did not make the cut. However, I was not disappointed with the gelato. The first gelato I had in Rome was cheaply made, from a corner shop that probably had the stuff delivered, as opposed to making it themselves. This stuff from San Crispino, this was a WOW moment; the tastes and flavors seemed to jump out of the cup; they were so vivid, so fresh, and potent. The lemon's tartness was perfect. Then I went up the Spanish Steps. It wasn't amazing, but rather just 3 columns of steps. I took those steps upwards to the Villa Borghese, a huge park area that offers fantastic views of Rome, of which I took advantage.
Then, it was off to the Vatican. I was surprised that the security was minimal. Entering the Vatican was as easy as entering or exiting one of the several, waist high gates. They are there merely as a line of demarcation of boundary, not as protection. Saint Peter's Square offered a fantastic and grand sense of being enveloped by the church. There were unique statutes over the pillars, which must represent saints. I went inside Saint Peter's Basilica, and WOW! I have seen a lot of churches on my trip, but WOW, this one takes the cake. First of all, it is absolutely HUGE, and the ceilings are incredibly high, and the statutes are all larger than life. It really took my breath away.
Finally, the Sistine Chapel. You were not supposed to take photos, but many people took photos out of the sight of the guards; it was so crowded, there is no way they could stop everyone, and there was really no reprimand, as they would nicely ask you to not take photos. I got a couple of shots of the famous ceiling, but many of them came out blurred. I got one good shot, and decided to call it a day.
Rome, a city in ruins, did not disappoint.