Something very unique about Italy (and perhaps Europe), and startling to an American is the way significant artifacts pop up seemingly out of nowhere in an otherwise "modern" city. In Berlin, it's remnants of the Berlin Wall along with their tragic and intensely interesting history. In Rome, you walk right into the earliest artifacts of Western civilization as we know it. Today, we explored the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and the Colosseum.
This is where they used to ride the horses, so of course I had to get a picture...
A view of modern Rome and the Colosseum from the Roman Forum (Campitelli.)
The Arch of Constantine (sides) and the Arch of Titus (middle.) The Arch of Constantine has the words instinctu divinitatis, or "inspired by the divine," which relates the story of a vision of God that Constantine had before he was victorious in the sign of the cross at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.
After taking off from Atlanta at 6:00 P.M. on January 18th, we landed in Rome at 9:00 A.M. the next day. This was the view while landing...
After a quick nap at the hotel, we hit the streets of Rome. Not until I visited Italy had I ever had the desire to stop at every street corner to photograph the buildings and car-lined streets. The oval shape on the corner is an image of the Virgin Mary, of which there are about 2,000 on the corners of buildings, in various styles, all around the city. The picturesque pastel and neutral-colored buildings are distinct in color, alternating like a city-wide mosaic... yet they fit perfectly together with similarly shaped rectangular windows, shutters, and intricate molding from another era.
Our first stop was a local church: Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli. The basilica houses Michelangelo's Moses. While the grandiose marble sculpture seemed to be the main tourist attraction, something else caught my eye. A relic of St. Peter the Apostle - the chains which imprisoned him in Rome before he was martyred - rested here. That sight was the highlight of my day.
Next, we walked right in to Vatican City, visiting one of the four basilicas within it: Santa Maria Maggiore. The mosaic floors were typical of the Medieval era. Regina Pacis, the statue of Madonna and Child with Mary holding out her hand, was commissioned at the end of the First World War as a symbol of a call to peace. I took a picture with my pocket rosary at the request of Ethan, who I purchased it from on Etsy.
Finally, we visited Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. It was beautiful and surprisingly large and grandiose, considering the outside was the dilapidated brick of Roman ruins. Before it was a church, it was a social gathering place. I thought the modern "crucifix" on the door was interesting, and I loved the trinity painting on the inside. I was able to capture a Roman sunset at the end of my first day.