When in Rome…

Trevi Fountain Rome
Trevi Fountain Rome
The last several days have been extremely busy for me in Rome. After the grueling day of travel from Tel Aviv to Rome via Athens, I basically slept in and tried to find a more permanent lodging solution (I grabbed a hotel close to the train station in central Rome that was more than I wanted to spend per night for the rest of my stay). The place I’m staying is reasonably located, reasonably cheap, very clean and new with free wifi….most importantly, it has free wifi.

Rome is the most densely packed city I’ve ever seen in terms of things to see. Asian countries tend to move their capitals every few hundred years. Nara to Kyoto to Tokyo is a good example. That means all the history gets spread out as the capital moves. Rome has been a primary city in the Italian peninsula for almost 3,000 years. You have Roman ruins along side renaissance churches. Almost every street you walk down will have a small church several hundred years old. You can look down any semi-major thoroughfare and see a fountain or obelisk at the end of the road. (BTW, I’ve seen more Egyptian obelisks in Rome than I did in Egypt. That is not an exaggeration either. I only saw 3-4 in all of Egypt still standing)

Pantheon in Rome
Pantheon in Rome

Wednesday I went to see the Roman ruins around the Palentine Hill. This was the city center of ancient Rome. There is a surprising amount still standing, at least partially. You can go in the curia where the senate once sat as well as go up on the Palentine hill and see where the Emperors going back to Augustus lived. Nearby is also the Colosseum, which I am sure you are familiar with. I’ll be doing a longer write up about the Roman ruins in the city later after I process some of my photos and visit some more sites.

Other than ancient ruins, the big thing you think about when you think of Rome is churches. I managed to visit St. John Lateren, St. Mary Major, the Pantheon, aka the Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs, and several other basilicas and smaller churches. I also wound up at the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday. On Saturday I took a tour of the Vatican Gardens and the Vatican Museum. The Vatican and the churches of Rome will also be a longer, separate, and really interesting post of its own.

Spanish Steps in Rome
Spanish Steps in Rome

Thursday I was asked by Jessica from Rome Photo Blog if I wanted to come along on a tour of one of the few Jewish catacombs in Rome. It was the only catacomb in Rome on private property and is seldom open to the public. Not being one to turn down and opportunity, I said “sure”. She works for a company called Context, which until then I had never heard of, but what they do is really fascinating and is one of the better business models I’ve heard of for a tour company. The create walking tours of small groups lead by scholars and experts in their fields. You could do a lot worse than to sign up with them to do a different tour every day you are in Rome.

I’d like to thank everyone who offered advice for what I should do and see in Rome. I’ve done many of the suggested things already. I’d especially like to thank Jim Drake, Connie Laubenthal, Miss Expatria, Drew, and Bob Hayes.

The rest of my time in Rome will be just as busy as the last few days. I’m planning on a trip to Ostia Antiqua, the Headquarters of the Knights of Malta, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, one of the larger christian catacombs and probably another visit to the Vatican. I need time to process all my photos. I’ve taken more here than in any other city on my travels.

14 thoughts on “When in Rome…”

  1. I don’t know which Basilica of St. Mary you visited (there are several) but you should really check SANTA MARIA in COSMODIN!

    This Basilica houses the skull of St Valentine (Yes the one we celebrate on february 14) which is displayed in a ridiculous way. BTW did you know we actually “celebrate” (if your into all that at least…) his execution date. He married soldiers in secret (they weren’t allowed because they would do better in battle if they had no wife at home) and when he got caught they executed him in Circus Massimo

    Outsite the Basilica (just follow all the Japanese people) you will find the Mouth of Truth. Not worth standing in line for, but you can probably see through the fence.

    Also St. Giovanni in Laterano is a well known basilica which has a nice garden-like square in the middle.

    • I said it rather clearly: St Mary’s Major. There is only one of them. It is one of the 4 papal basilicas in Rome.

  2. Just wanted to say I love the site, gorgeous pictures.

    One small thing though.. I was a classical civilization major in college and we always learned it as the Palatine Hill, not the Palentine. Not sure if they spell it differently in modern Italy?

  3. wow!! I’m tired just reading what you did so far. What is your take on the crowd? I haven’t been there in 10 years but I’m sure the popularity of Rome still remains the same. We are thinking about our family trip to Europe in a couple years.

  4. Yeah, Rome is amazing. I was there a bit more than a year ago, and was just as impressed as you my the amount of sights worth seeing. I really want to go there again some time.

  5. Looks like you’re really having a blast (& getting to see some of the un-touristy bits also). Thanks for sharing and congrats on some fine pics. Am looking forward to more and have added you to my blogroll at Navigationz. Greetz from Cape Town, Pierre

  6. It’s refreshing to think that after all your travels, you can still be enthused when you visit a new city – especially one that’s as busy as Rome.
    Don’t forget to wander in the Trastavere. I really enjoyed the afternoon we spent there.

  7. It was nice meeting you and thanks for putting me, and Context, in your blog. I can certainly believe that you took more photos here in Rome…haha I know a bit about photographing this city :)

  8. Firstly, I’d really like to say that I find your trip amazing and inspiring. I travel as much as I can as a student and I found your blog through PvP.

    Since you mention the Knights of Malta I’m curious – are you going to be going to Malta? I was there a few years ago and it’s quite beautiful. I was also wondering whether or not you planned your trip with regards to where you wanted to be for what seasons.

  9. From my travels in Asia I had noticed that capital cities tended to change every now and again, but I hadn’t really put it together like that… thanks for the insight!

    Rome is a traveler’s delight… hope you enjoy the rest of your stay. =)

  10. I don’t know how you got so close to the Trevi Fountain! Great photos; I’m suffering with no wifi in my Rome apartment. Next time that’s a prerequisite.

  11. Sounds wonderful, now you made me even more tempted than ever to go to Rome, especially your last statement “I’ve taken more here than in any other city on my travels”….

    Rome has always been high up in the top of our list of places to go, but somehow we haven’t managed to get there yet. It’s just too many interesting places around the world!

    Thx for the tip of the walking tour, we might check it up when we finally get there, I’m saving the link.

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