No. 1 St. Peter’s Basilica, the Roman Forum, and the Colosseum: Rome, Italy

“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.”   ~ Roman Payne
 Snapshot No. 1 The Day We Walked A Million Miles and Learned Something the Hard Way
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    We ended up getting lost on the day we went to the Vatican, and we just couldn’t, for the life of us, find a metro stop anywhere. We asked a lot of people and got many sets of confusing directions (it seems like even people living in Rome didn’t know where the metro stops are either). So we stopped for gelato (of course), and finally find the metro stop after hours of walking, only to find that we were only one stop away from where we were staying.
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   The first man that we asked was very confident in his direction-giving skills. “Oh si, si. Metro stop. You walk down this street. You reach a street that starts with C. You follow that street. Yes? You follow? You keep going down that street a long time and then you will come to a square. You turn right at the square.” This much was true. We found the C street , and we kept walking for a ways, and then we asked another person at a café where to go next, just to be on the safe side. He squinted for a bit, and scratched his head, and said in a heavy Italian accent, “No, you go back that-ah way,” pointing in the direction we just came from. “And you walk a long ways down that-ah street. And then you go left, and you keep going.” “But we just came from there,” we said. “And we were told to come down this street.” “Ah, no. This not right. You come-ah that-ah way, you go back that-ah way.” “Si, grazie mille,” we said, very confused, hurrying out of the café before we got even more confusing directions.
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   That was the longest day ever. Roman Forum and Colosseum in the morning. St. Peter’s Basilica and our attempt to see the Vatican (museum) and Sistine Chapel in the afternoon. We were extremely confused about the Vatican City. We were confused in the Vatican City, we were confused about what exactly the Vatican City was, we were confused as to what it included, how to get there, where everything was located, where to get tickets, where the line started. And by the time we got to St. Peter’s Basilica, the line was so long to get into the church that we knew we couldn’t possibly see the Sistine Chapel and the art museum in one afternoon, so we just waited in line to see the church, and then I climbed all the stairs to the top of the Dome along with 500 of my best friends (so many people. Everywhere. All the time), and then we went in search of gelato, but not after asking this poor guy at a souvenir shop one more time, yet again, how to get to the Vatican, not realizing that we needed to specify the museum, and he gave us a long look, and then pointed at the church. So.
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    My most favourite part of the day was the Roman Forum in the morning. It was cool and calm inside, and the morning rays were casting light on the ruins, making the grass even greener, the flowers even brighter, the stone columns, more grand. So beautiful, it hurt. I loved wandering amongst the ruins, taking my time, breathing the clean, crisp morning air, imagining life back then. The Colosseum was also incredible, busy and crowded with people by that point of the day, but the grandeur and the immensity of it nevertheless sustained, immeasurable.  And almost unimaginable. It was surreal to walk along the rim of the Colosseum, thinking of the gladiators, the horse chariots, the naval wars.
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   And I got little glimpses of what might have inspired the author of Hunger Games – there were definite similarities in the constructed Hunger Games arenas. The park surrounding both the Roman Forum and the Colosseum was gorgeous too, as all the parks are in Rome. Lush, green, classical in design, cooling to the eyes. Much like the buildings, the parks also appear to be feats of engineering prowess. Built on and around hills, the fountains running throughout, water emerging magically out of the lion’s mouth, the head of the lion part of an elaborate fountain. Trees supporting other plants, ivy wrapped around trunks and onto buildings, trimmed beautifully, never over-grown or over-clipped. They mimic the winding streets of Rome, the narrow cobblestone pathways that hide gems: restaurants, cafés, gelaterias, glass shops, book stores. It’s a city to lose oneself in, to fall in love with slowly, and then all at once.
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