Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Colosseum, the Pantheon and Vatican City

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The morning of the 20th we were picked up from our hotel by Marco, a guide from RedCup Tours, for our official tour of Rome. I had emailed them letting them know which sites we wanted to be sure to go and let Marco do the rest :-)!
Our first stop that morning was the Colosseum. Marco talked to us a bit about it from a couple different vantage points outside and then Mike and I went inside to explore on our own. For us these "tours" were perfect because they took the stress out of the getting around and were still informative while allowing us to do our own thing, which is what we prefer :-). The Colosseum from the outside looked just as you think it will after seeing hundreds of pictures of it during your life, but the inside was what really blew me away. The grandness of it is more impactful from inside I think and it is very easy to forget how long ago it was built. (also we totally beat most of the crowds which was wonderful)
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Arch of Constantine
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Mike was always ready to help me show off artifacts ;-)
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what the seats were like
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some of the original seats
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All around Italy we would just see random old pieces of columns, sometimes piles of it, and we would joke about it because it would be such an amazing discovery here and in Italy where it is EVERYWHERE it's just like "oh well, another capital carved thousands of years ago. let's just set it over in that pile for now."
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We drove around Rome a bit after the Colosseum and then Marco brought us up to the top of Aventine Hill for a view through The Aventine Keyhole. We had no idea what we were going to see and Marco was so excited about it :-). Check out the link to see a better view of what we saw when we looked through, I had a hard time getting my camera to focus.
The next stop was the Pantheon and Marco pointed out quite a bit to us as we drove around. I feel like I should have taken notes though because I can't remember names or the importance of even the ones I took pictures of :-(.
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an original fountain
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I'm pretty sure he said this building on the left was done before the colosseum? Mike can correct me if he remembers :-).
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Made it to the Pantheon....
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Another stop at Trevi Fountain (a different viewpoint, still just as crowded), a view over Rome from Villa Borghese (a beautiful park), and a stop at Piazza Navona before heading to Vatican City.
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Once we made it to Vatican City we had a yummy lunch at L'Insalata Ricca, and then went into the Vatican Museums. The museums are gigantic and the buildings themselves are crazy ornate and huge. It was pretty crowded while there, especially with all the large tour groups, but with just the two of us we squeezed by most of them ok :-). I cannot imagine how packed some of these sites must be in the summer during the height of tourist season! We were mostly interested in seeing the Sistine Chapel of course and I snuck a picture the best I could...they weren't allowed!
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look towards the bottom for the most famous scene ;-)
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We headed back into Rome (after spotting the Swiss guard in their hilarious outfits guarding the Vatican), stopping for gelato before Marco dropped us back off at our hotel.
That night Mike and I walked around Rome a bit more, got dinner and more gelato ;-) and looked for a souvenir for Preston. We didn't have lots of luck with it but we both found pairs of shoes we loved so it was still a good night haha!
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our hotel at night
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