We took the bullet train from Venice to Rome, passing by rural areas and graffiti towns, to enter the final leg of our honeymoon. Aroma (or Rome) is spelled backwards as Amora – love. Indeed, we fell for the ancient ruins that attract countless visitors from the modern world.
Standing 160 feet high and covering 6 acres to accommodate 50,000 people, the Colosseum is regarded as one of the greatest works of Roman architecture. Built around 72 AD, only 1/3 of the original Colosseum remains. This “arena of death” is where gladiators fought. The gladiator games were officially banned in 435 AD (until its reopening for the “Hunger Games” in a distant dystopia…).
As the center of the Roman public life, the Forum held elections, speeches, trials, and commercial affairs. Today, the Forum is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments. However, what remains still signify an era of majestic grandeur. The Forum lit up at night and offered a serene place for reflections.
Built in 27 BC, the Pantheon is a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods. Its dome later inspired Washington D.C.’s Capitol building. The Oculus eye in the sky (at the center of the dome) is the only available light source, giving visitors a glimpse of “Heaven”. Instead of statues of the gods, the Pantheon now houses tombs of famous Italians and the French poet Victor Hugo.
Bridge of Angels
The Bridge of Angels was completed in 134 AD by Roman Emperor Hadrian for transportation across the Tiber river. Today, the bridge is solely used by pedestrians. Facing the bridge is the Castel Sant’Angelo, which was a place Popes used to hide in during seiges and wars as the castle is accessible by a raised viaduct to escape in secrecy from the Vatican.
The morning we visited the Vatican, it was raining. This did not stop the huge crowd. Pope Francis was making a tour and giving a speech. We were too far away to hear him, but all around us, people were in tears and chanting “Papa!”. It must be a surreal moment for the religious.
There are approximately 350 churches in Rome. Despite our non-affiliation to churches, we find ourselves fascinated with the decorated architecture. Pictured above is an “unknown” church, not glorified in any travel brochures. And yet, its magnificence took our breath away. One can really visit Rome just to go on a church tour.
Rome by Night
We highly recommend exploring Rome after dark for a more intimate, romantic experience. While Paris might be nicknamed “City of Love”, it was an evening stroll among the ancient ruins of Rome with live music playing in the background that gave us a sense of amore. The structures came to life with orange, flood lighting that was reminiscent of torchlight. Everything felt grandiose and intimate all at once.
EuropeanDestinations made traveling to Europe a breeze. We were initially going to book everything ourselves, but we found it all very overwhelming and from our searches (adding everything up), we found EuropeanDestinations offered a reasonable price. While we are not sure if their packages will allow you to travel to Europe for the least amount of money, we are very thankful to have chosen them. Their packages include all airfare, hotels, and train (if applicable). You can modify according to your tastes (such as adding tour guides). Their customer service is readily available and helpful. We were leery about using them prior to departure just because we never used them before and didn’t know anyone who had used their service. We didn’t have any expectations and were therefore pleasantly surprised at how well everything turned out. There were no hiccups with travel. Hotels were all good and in prime locations (examples: we were walking distance to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and just outside St. Mark’s Square in Venice). We would use EuropeanDestinations again and would recommend it to family and friends because of how easy and reasonable the packages are.
Paris gave us iconic structures. Venice fed our ravenous stomachs. Rome gave us a unique look into the ancient past. Honestly, we had the most difficulty writing about Rome because the very act of describing art detracts beauty from it. Rome simply needs to be experienced and appreciated.