Monday, May 23, 2011

Donald and Kristin's Roman Adventure

On the Tuesday after our Sunday wedding, we departed for Rome, Italy. We took an overnight flight on Al Italia, arriving around 8 am on Wednesday morning. Then, on little to no sleep, we had our first day in Rome. It was tough, since we couldn't check into our hotel right away. We could, however, drop off our luggage there. After which we went down to St. Peter's Basilica (where there was a large gathering of people associated with John Paul II's beatification), got lunch, and then saw the Pantheon. By this time we were exhausted, so we went back to the hotel and checked in, and I, at least, took a two-hour nap. Kristin got maybe half-an-hour of sleep, before we went to a nice restaurant for dinner.

The Pantheon from the square outside.
The Pantheon's dome.  Note the large skylight, aka the hole in the ceiling.

For the next week, we did a lot of stuff, more than I can easily recount in one blog post, and the number of pictures is staggering. This is partly because Kristin's idea of a relaxing day is to do two museums, rather than three outdoor ruins in the hot sun. She also had very specific ideas about what restaurants she wanted to go to, based on various guide books, and she was willing to spend a significant amount of time wandering around in order to find them. My idea of a relaxing day is to spend it inside doing not much of anything, and maybe get a meal at a nice, nearby restaurant for dinner.

After our first full night's sleep in Rome, we spent the next day (Thursday) seeing the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine hill. It was hot, tiring, and we took many, many pictures, mostly of things that will be boring to anyone without a deep interest in Roman history.

Me in front of the Colosseum

On Friday, we went to an Etruscan museum in the morning. It would have been more enjoyable if more of the information had been in English, but it was mostly in Italian.  We intended to take the afternoon off, but instead spent it wandering around a park lost, trying to find a restaurant. This made Kristin grumpy. The restaurant we did find really wasn't anything special. That evening we saw the Vatican museums, including the Sistine chapel, which was great fun.

From the outdoor exhibits of the Etruscan museum.  I'm not sure that it's really Etruscan, as there was no information included, but we weren't allowed to take pictures of the indoor exhibits.

From the Vatican museums, the famous statue of Laocoon and his sons being devoured by serpents.

The next day, Saturday, we saw the Imperial forums, ate lunch at a really expensive (but also really nice) restaurant, then climbed up the Capitoline hill to see the Capitoline museum. There was a whole lot of walking and climbing involved. This made me grumpy.
Kristin in a shop (taberna) at Trajan's market

Me in front of the famous Capitoline wolf.  The wolf statue may be ancient, but the infants (Romulus and Remus) weren't added until the Renaissance.

On Sunday, we went to Ostia Antica. This was an abandoned Roman city. Since it wasn't buried under mud or volcanic ash like Pompey and Herculaneum, it was in fairly poor condition. That said, the staff are much less protective of it, and visitors can wander around and through most of the buildings.
Me in a thermopolium (restaurant) in Ostium Antica.
That's me walking around the amphitheater at Ostia Antica.

 On Monday, we visited three different catacombs along the Via Appia Antica (the old Via Appia, which is famous to anyone familiar with ancient Roman history). While the guides for each tour told us largely the same information--for example, catacombs were purely for burial, the Christians never hid in them--this was fascinating for anyone interested in the history of early Christianity.  And also for any aspiring writers who think catacombs would make a great setting for a story. Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures inside, so we have no boring pictures of the catacombs.

The outside of the catacombs.

On Tuesday, we went to Hadrian's Villa. Hadrian was a Roman Emperor who built the luxurious retreat to end all luxurious retreats (at least until the next Roman Emperor came along). I wasn't as impressed with the villa as I wanted to be, but it was still fun.
The Canopus at Hadrian's Villa.

Finally, on Wednesday, it was time for our trip to Naples, for the second stage of our honeymoon.

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