Watch Out for the Gladiators: Rome Part One.

21 Oct

Bright and early we jumped out of bed to tackle the city of Rome by storm. We wanted to hit all the famous landmarks with no time to waste. Right outside our hotel was the bus station that would take us to the city center. Unfortunately all the signs were in Italian so we were kind of clueless as to what we were doing. But eventually we just kind of used common sense and put it all together and took a leap of faith. And after about a twenty minute bus ride we were put right next to the Vatican City. Inside I was amazed by the architecture and hugeness of the Vatican. The roof of the Sistine Chapel rose above everything else in its grandness. All around us were statues, huge columns, and immense white buildings that were ornately decorated in marble. Everything seemed so pure white and important, symbolizing the sacredness of the entire thing. There were people around us from every possible nationality, with a hundred different languages bouncing around. I truly felt like I was standing somewhere great.

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After the walk through the gift shop near by with every product known to man with the Pope’s face on it we got out our map to head toward the Pantheon. Navigating through the Roman streets can be extremely confusing. It has tons of tiny, winding roads with vespas and smart cars zooming through them. But walking through these streets and ally ways I began to really feel emotional. It was like a scene straight out of a movie, the Rome I had always dreamed of. The colors, the houses, the cobble stone streets. It was absolutely perfect.

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We found the Pantheon, tucked away in between houses and little restaurants. It seemed so out of place in this modern place, a historical landmark symbolizing one of the oldest buildings in the world.It was huge and worn, but still so beautiful. The columns rose up for what seemed like forever and I couldn’t wait to go inside. The inside was quiet, with alters all around for kings, saints, and other prominent figures. People were praying, taking pictures, and just staring in awe. I really felt like a part of history in this place.

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Next we decided to tackle the task of finding the Trevi Fountain. This landmark was probably the one thing I have been most excited about ever since I decided to come to Europe. I feel like there’s something magical about this place and the way people come from all over the world just to toss their wishes inside. It is not an easy place to find and we walked in many a circles trying to track it down. But from about a block away I swear I could literally feel the excitement. I knew it had to be close and I started to walk faster and faster. Also, tucked in the middle of normal shops and cafes, just plopped in the middle of everyday life, was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. It was exactly like I had imagined. Huge, white statues of sea creatures and warriors. The bluest water imaginable with coins sprawled all over the bottom. Hundreds upon hundreds of people everywhere. I felt tears come up. I never in my life thought I would have the experience of being in this place and being there was a feeling I can’t even describe. I felt like I had really been blessed.

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Making our way to the water I was so excited to throw my coin in and make my wish. But what do you really have to wish for when you’re standing in front of the Trevi Fountain? My only wish was that I could see more places like this and feel the way I felt standing there forever. It was amazing. I never wanted to leave.

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But…. there was more to see. Soon we found the capital building with its gardens, pigeons everywhere, and food carts that smelled oh so good. We hunkered down for a lunch outside with paninis and cokes, soaking up the sun and the sites. We decided the Colosseum would be next. After scarfing down our food we walked the long road to the landmark. The street was covered in vendors, street artists, musicians, and anyone trying to make money off the tourists. There were also men dressed as gladiators everywhere! Little did we know… these guys pull you in for pictures and give you little choice about the matter. Then they charge you five euros each for pictures you took on your own camera. Beware my fellow travelers. Beware.

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Finally we saw the Colosseum and I began to get butterflies in my stomach. This couldn’t be really happening. It was so tall and immense, and I was just too excited. I started thinking off all the history this building contains and how lucky we are to still be able to witness it. I was standing where gladiators fought. How stinking cool is that?! We decided to pay to go inside, which was completely worth the money.

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Exhausted and with sore feet we headed back to our hotel with gelato in hand. It was so refreshing and just delicious. Later we visited the restaurant near our hotel again and scarfed down more pizza… what can I say? It was too good not to. Italian pizza should be tasted by all. Then after a few hours of Italian MTV I was out for the night, reliving the day over and over again in my head.

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