Sunday, July 11, 2010

Viva Italia! Rome Part I

June 20th was a day of travel. We woke up to our last morning in Croatia, finished packing our things, and took a cab to the port in Dubrovnik. We took a ferry from there to Bari, Italy. The ferry ride was about seven and half hours long. We amused ourselves by reading, playing Angry Birds on our iPhones, drinking wine, napping, and listening to the crazy, loud Italians that surrounded us. Once to Bari, we took a ride to our hostel and then went to dinner. We had delicious pizza and then went back to hit the sack.

We woke up early and went to the train station. The ride lasted for about four hours, our longest train ride while in Italy, but the views were nice and we got to catch up on some sleep. Once in Rome, we took a cab to our hostel. The hostel, Orsa Maggiore, is located inside the International House of Women (a non-profit organization) and a former convent from the 17th century. The hostel was actually very pleasant and located near Vatican City.

Our first day in Rome

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City

Part of Bernini's colonnade, each column is topped with a saint

St. Peter's square was designed with crowds in mind, so as many people could hear the Pope speak as possible. These chairs are set out for his weekly appearances.

This Egyptian obelisk is in St. Peter's square. It was originally erected in Alexandria, Egypt by order of Augustus around 29 BC and brought to Rome by Caligula in 37 AD. It was put up in the Vatican in 1586 by Pope Sixtus V.

Mary and I love our Catholic MawMaw. We sent her a postcard from Vatican City, which has its own postal service.

Santa Maria in Vallicella, also called Chiesa Nuova. The first church on the site was built in the 4th century. The church that stands now was built between 1577-1606. There are numerous historical churches such as this in Rome.

Bridge over the Tiber river with the dome from St. Peter's Basilica in the background

In Piazza Navona, La Fontana del Moro, built in 1575

Egyptian obelisk in the center of Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (1651), with Sant'Agnese Agone basilica (1652) in the background. In Piazza Navona.

Fountain of Neptune in Piazza Navona

The Pantheon, one of the most magnificent displays of ancient architecture in Rome, was half covered by scaffolding. This, of course, must be the plight of the ancient building. However, it was still magnificent. The Pantheon was originally a temple built for the ancient Roman gods. It was destroyed, and later rebuilt in 126 by Hadrian. In 609 it was consecrated as a Catholic church and now holds historical religious sculptures and paintings, as well as the remains of the artist Raphael.

My camera could not do justice to the interior of the Pantheon, but I will share this one picture of the oculus, a circular opening to the sky.

Trevi Fountain. Legend says that if you throw one coin into the fountain, you are ensured a speedy return to Rome. Two coins into the fountain and you will find love. Three coins into the fountain will lead to a marriage...or a divorce.

A closer look at sculptures within the Trevi Fountain

The Spanish Steps, built in the 1700s. We sat here in the late afternoon to people-watch and write postcards. The orange house to the right is the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, where the English poet John Keats died of tuberculosis in 1821.

We had a good first day in Rome even though we hadn't had much of a plan to begin with. More of Rome will come in later posts, as I have more than 500 pictures of the city to sort through.

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