Monday, August 1, 2011

A whirlwind of sightseeing and designer shoes!

Friday- the first order of the day after breakfast was to sight see in the amazing city of Rome. We had a lot to see, so we needed all the energy we could get (and we got many carbs with our breakfast full of bread…). On my first trip to Rome with Josh in 2006 we only spent two days in the city and saw the big things (St Peters Basilica, Colosseum and Roman Forum) so we were excited to see some new and historical places. The B&B host was telling us about a great park that overlooks the city (Villa Borghese). He said we could take a train to the park and then walk down to the Spanish steps and the fantastic shopping area. So, this is what we did!
Santa Maria del Popolo
Raphaels dome
Sphinx in the Piazza del Popolo
Outside of the train station before entering the park was a huge square called Piazza del Popolo with two churches and a huge obelisk. One of the churches, Santa Maria del Popolo, was a stop that morning. This church is famous for its appearance in Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons”.  The church has a chapel commissioned by the banker Agostini Chigi that was part of a scene in the book (and the movie). The chapel was designed by Michelangelo and finished by Bernini. The dome in the church was painted by Raphael’s “Creation of the World”. It still amazes me every time I see a Catholic church! The amount of time and money that went into building these amazing places of worship is hard for me to wrap my head around. The fact that the church had that much money blows my mind. It’s also sad to think that this kind of art is not something that people think to build today.
Piazza del Popolo with the Vatican
 in the background


After admiring the church and the square, we sought cooler air in the shade of the park. It was so hot in Rome!! That day it was definitely mid-upper 90’s. We kept a large bottle of water with us at all times and that thing got heavy! When we entered the park, there was a great view of the Vatican, so we stopped for a few pictures.  


Run for your life!
The park was a nice reprieve from the crazy city, but we decided to keep moving since it was so hot outside. We walked towards the Spanish Steps which took about ten minutes. Once we arrived at the Spanish Steps we saw a bunch of street vendors there with their typical loot: sunglasses, knock off purses, etc. As we arrived their lookout gave the signal that the police were on the way and within seconds the vendors were gone! They grabbed their sheets with the loot, and took off up the stairs. We couldn’t stop laughing! They were running for their lives, lol.

Spanish Steps

Still laughing, we proceeded to Ferragamo to look at shoes! Sofia was promised a designer pair of shoes and Josh gave me the choice of a pair of shoes for my birthday, so the girls were pretty excited to go shopping! We came out with much smaller wallets and hands full of expensive shoes, but it was great! Thanks sweetie for my birthday present! I love them!
at Ferragamo with our shoes!
my new shoes!
By this point it was only lunch time and we were famished. Time for a much needed lunch break! We had also seen a lot by this point in the day and were a little tired. Lunch was a great time to unwind and regain our energy before heading back out into the hot weather of Rome! We needed the energy too because the next stop was the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. This was my second time to the Colosseum and it still amazes me! The first time it felt like I had been there before because of all of the photos and movies I had seen with the Colosseum. The second time it was great to just admire it from afar. James and Sofia took a tour inside, while Josh and I sat outside and admired it. We also walked around and found another group of Asian tourists… photo opp!!
Maren and Asia at the Colosseum

So, after a long, hot, fun day we needed a cold beer! Josh and I found a great little bar overlooking the Colosseum for refreshment and enjoyed the people watching. The day however is not over!! We walked past the Roman Forum and my favorite building in the city, the monument to Vittorio Emanuele II (The first king of the unified Italy). This beautiful white marble monument is a museum, but unfortunately it was closed when we were in Rome, so I haven’t been able to see the inside of the magnificent building. We also went to the Trevi Fountain, saw the inside of the Pantheon (where Vittorio Emanuele II and Raphael are buried) and back to Piazza Navona that night. The sights of Rome are so great! And there is something ancient around every corner, I love it!
The Roman Forum

Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II
Burial place of Vittorio Emanele II in
the Pantheon
at the Trevi Fountain
That night we went out to dinner and enjoyed more of the amazing food of Rome! The city is known for making artichokes, but they were out of season since it is a fall vegetable. Thankfully we were able to find some anyways, and they were fantastic!! Being one of my favorite vegetables, I was excited to eat some artichokes that were cooked properly! I am not skilled in cooking with fresh artichokes so that is now on my list of things to learn while living in Italy!! After dinner we found a fun bar on the Tiber River and sat down for drinks and Hookah! It was a fun atmoshpere and very relaxed. But the hookah definitely wasn't as good as what we had in Munich. After some drinks and listening to a band that played "Tutti Fruitti" (as we so lovingly named our GPS on this trip because it couldn't keep our location for more than a few minutes in Tuscany), we headed back to the B&B laughing about Tutti Fruitti.

Josh playing with the camera
to capture the smoke

Man, just thinking about everything we did that day I am exhausted! We went back to the B&B and got some much needed sleep that night! The next day was going to be another big day of sightseeing and our last full day in the city.

Up next: Sistine Chapel and the Vatican!


Interesting Fact: The Pantheon has and opening at the top of the dome, called an oculus. Since the air pressure inside of the Pantheon is so strong coming out of the oculus, it acts as natural protection from the elements. No rain ever enters the building through the hole in the ceiling. Our B&B host told us that it poured rain the week before we arrived, and inside the Pantheon is was completely dry.

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