Even though my visit to Rome was some years ago, it’s a city that left a lasting and favorable impression. At the time I felt as if it wasn’t necessary to see any other part of Italy; however, perhaps this assessment is unfair because the country is delightful in many ways. But, I digress. Rome is, for all intents and purposes, an outdoor museum. There are reminders around every corner that this was the center of an immense and powerful empire. I didn’t speak Italian beyond the basics of “yes,” “no,” “please,” and “thank you” but Rome is a place where it doesn’t take too long to find the big attractions and the locals are helpful!
First, I went to the ornate Trevi Fountain. Naturally, I wasn’t alone when I got there. The crowds only thinned out either very early in the morning or late at night. The spot where the fountain now stands was the end point of an aqueduct, and these structures were vital to the ancient Romans. As the story goes, throwing a coin into the fountain while your back is turned means a return to Rome. No wonder so many people stop to visit. For me, that hasn’t happened yet but there’s lots of time!
The Vatican is in a walled enclave inside Rome but is a separate state. I joined throngs of tourists to marvel at Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. There was a series of long corridors to pass through with impressive artwork on the ceilings before reaching the central chamber. Then, the most important moment arrived and I looked up. The first instinct was to grab my camera. Alas, no photography was allowed.
I learned about the bloodier side of Roman history upon visiting the Colosseum. Built by slaves, the elliptical-shaped Colosseum is the attraction that screams: “Welcome to the show!” Roman citizens didn’t have to pay to enter the Colosseum and the contests kept them glued to their seats. The gladiator spectacles were the Super Bowl games of the time. The Romans were cruel to the people they conquered and to each other, so what could slaves, criminals, and prisoners of war expect when they were forced to fight? I was impressed with the Colosseum but shuddered at the same time. Even though ancient Roman society had positive aspects, it was barbaric and unmerciful.