Italy (Part 3 – Rome and Vatican city, The rustic old day) – Dec ’16

ROME

Guess everyone is familiar with the favorite saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  That is exactly the best advice about travelling in and exploring Rome. We arrived in Rome in a nice breezing day. The clear blue sky and the average temperature of 10 degrees Celsius made it so enjoyable to walk around the inter-connected city.

Colosseum

We started off the day by walking from our hostel to the infamous Colosseum. The ticket for both Colosseum and Roman Forum/ Palatine Hill was EUR 12.

The Roman Colosseum or Coliseum, originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, was commisioned in AD 72 by Emperor Vespasian. It was completed by his son, Titus, in 80, with later improvements by Domitian. Vespesian ordered the Colosseum to be built on the site of Nero’s palace, the Domus Aurea, to dissociate himself from the hated tyrant. His aim was to gain popularity by staging deadly combats of gladiators and wild animal fights for public viewing. Massacre was on a huge scale: at inaugural games in AD 80, over 9,000 wild animals were killed.

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Just outside the Coliseum is the Arch of Constantine (Arco di Costantino), a 25m high monument built in AD315 to mark the victory of Constantine over Maxentius at Pons Milvius.

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Roman Forum/ Palatine Hill

Originally a marsh, the Romans drained the area and turned it into a centre of political and social activity. The Roman Forum was the marketplace of Rome and also the business district and civic centre. The most ancient monuments at the Roman Forum are from the first kings of Rome, dating back to the sixth century BC.

The Palatine Hill is the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city. It stands 40 metres above the Roman Forum, looking down upon it on one side, and upon the Circus Maximus on the other. From here, we can have the undisrupted bird-eye view of the entire city.

A walk through the city of Rome

The entire city is walkable and in fact, it actually pretty small. So after the most must-see attraction, we decided to just walk through all the rest.

The Trevi Fountain is situated at the end of the Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct constructed in 19 BC by Agrippa, the son-in-law of Emperor Augustus. The aqueduct brings water all the way from the Salone Springs (approx. 21km from Rome) and supplies the fountains in the historic center of Rome with water.

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According to legend, Agrippa sent out a group of soldiers to search for a spring near Rome. The spring was found after a young virgin (virgo) showed the source to the soldiers, hence the name of the aqueduct. However, it was too packed with tourists, cameras and selfie sticks…


VATICAN CITY

We headed to Vatican City the next day with the hope to see the Pope but he was not home. We got our tickets to the Vatican museum.

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The Laocoön sculpture in the Vatican Museums is one of the most important pieces of art in the collection, and a must see. It is a sculpture group, found in 1506 on the Esquiline Hill in Rome. The sculpture, from around 30 BCE, depicts the Trojan priest Laocoön and his two sons losing a battle to the death with two sea serpents.

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The Gallery of Maps contains the largest collection of geographical paintings ever created. These wall-sized maps depict Italy and Italian provinces, and were commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII in the 16th century.The Ceiling of the Map Room in the Vatican Museums is a masterpiece in itself.

The Swiss Guard is the world’s smallest professional army, and also, one of the most recognizable for its solemnity, its fidelity to the Pope … and especially for its uniform.

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