The ship docked in Civitavecchia (means "old town") around 7:00 am, and it was set to be a beautiful day to tour the "Eternal City". Rome is the capital of Italy, and of course, home to the Vatican, the capital of the Catholic Church. The city is said to have been founded in 753 B.C.
We booked a full day tour, so we were up at 5:00 for a 7:15 departure--it is an hour and fifteen minute bus ride from the port into the city. Along the way, it was mostly highway, but we did get a few glimpses of the Italian countryside. Artichoke crops were growing along our route, as well as some vineyards!
During the journey, our tour guide was talking about the day's events and mentioned that lunch would be in a traditional Italian restaurant and that wine would be included with the meal. Charlotte said, in a rather excited and loud voice, "Wine!!!" Funny girl!
I still don't know what the sign below is for, but we all got quite a laugh from them!
It doesn't matter where you go in the world. . .there's always a McDonald's!
Rome's infamous traffic!
Our little tourists!
Our first stop for the day was the Colosseum, and as we entered the oldest part of the city, it was obvious that we had found the Rome that everyone sees in pictures!! There were so many things to look at and take pictures of; I can't remember what most of it is!!
Above is part of the Roman Forum--the heart of ancient Rome. Politicians campaigned here, markets and commerce thrived, gladiators fought here, and criminals were dealt justice under Roman law on this site. For hundreds of years, this was the center of the civilized world.
And at last we arrived at the Colosseum! Started in the late 1st-century by Emperor Vespasian and completed by his son, Emperor Titus, it was a monument to Rome's triumph during the "Jewish Revolt" in Palestine (66-70 AD). Throughout over 400 years (and 42 emperors), the main function of the Colosseum was to provide violent amusement and entertainment for the people of Rome.
And I'll say it again. . it wasn't as big as I thought it would be. . nor did the inside look like I thought it would. But it was still a very interesting place!
Once we had our fill of the Colosseum, it was time to board the bus to head for our traditional Italian lunch. . with "Wine!"
Next stop? The Vatican!
This is the closest we got to Pope Benedict!
Into the Vatican Museums! Originating from the placement of a group of statues, including Apollo (130-140AD), in an interior courtyard by Pope Julius II in the beginning of the 16th century, the Musei Vaticani has become one of the largest museum complexes in the world with over 1400 rooms. The art housed there has been collected through the centuries by the Roman Catholic Church. And it's amazing!!
Hannah "visits" a Roman bath!
Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures in the Sistine Chapel. So we all have our memories of it. . .well, except for Charlotte! :)
Out to St. Peter's Square. . .
And then into St. Peter's Basilica. . .one of the largest churches in the world and regarded as one of the holiest Catholic sites.
That's an air vent for the crypts, Mags!
The Pieta by Michelangelo
The girls go to a youth group at Church called Don Bosco.
The ever present McD's!
Rome was incredible and well worth going to see. . .it was a long and exhausting day, but such an amazing experience to see so many things that I had seen in movies or read about in books.
We headed back to the ship and ran into a few "friends". . had some dinner and Charlotte finally approached Fiona from Shrek. . she had refused to go near any of the characters prior to that!
*Some of the information was shamelessly taken from guidebooks we collected!