Well, let's just start at the beginning.
Aldo picked us up and was our tour guide this day. I really liked Aldo. He was so sincere about his love for Rome and wanting us to be able to see as much as possible. He also took us to the place where I had the best pizza of our whole trip, so he gets extra points for that.
When we first drove into the city I was amazed by the old walls (some parts are rebuilt) surrounding the ancient parts of the city. This was our introduction to all the fascinating things that we were about to see.
Our first stop was this view of the Colosseum. It is in amazingly good shape, though parts of it have had to be rebuilt also.
We didn't pay the 14 euros each to go in, but I was fascinated by what you could see underground when we peeked in (we went as far as we could through the "out" gate). The old floor is gone now, so you have a great view of all the animal (and probably human) cages and passageways.
Here is the Arch of Constantine, which is right next to the Colosseum.
On the hill behind Hal in this next photo is the original Caesar's Palace. This picture doesn't do it justice at all. It is huge. For some reason when we were planning this trip and I was thinking of places to see in Rome, I didn't even think of Caesar's Palace so it was a fun surprise to get to see it too. I was also surprised because the Circus Maximus, where all the chariot races were run, was right here. The track goes around the grassy area you can see in the picture. I thought it would be more developed here even though they did have bleachers that were later taken out.
Here is a view of the Forum. Hal and I are just sick that we didn't insist on taking time to actually walk around in it instead of just taking pictures from above.
Here is Sophia Loren's apartment building. She owns the penthouse and the outdoor space. Hal keeps saying that we spent more time looking at it than anything else that day. (It was near the area where the good bathroom was so that's why we were there in the first place.)
Here is the back side of the rotunda of the Pantheon.
Now here's the front with the portico.
I really enjoyed it here. I believe it is the oldest church that has been in continual use since being built. (I'll have to double check that.) Actually the present building was re-built by Hadrian around 120 a.d.
I was trying to attempt an artistic shot here. I was getting annoyed by all the "gladiators" and other characters who wanted 5 euros to have a photo taken with them so I was trying to pick one up by his hat.
Isn't the inside beautiful?
The painter Raphael was entombed inside here.
For all you Angels and Demons fans, here is a shot of the oculus, which is also the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. It is the only source of light for the building and when it rains, they just let it pour into the building. The water drains through holes in the floor, which I wish I'd known enough about it to look for them while I was there.
Here we are next at the Trevi Fountain, tossing in our coins. According to Aldo, if you throw in one coin, you will return to Rome someday. Three coins will get you a wish. We were cheap and threw in one coin each. I'm too embarrassed to tell you which coin it was. (I figured if I were to make a wish it would be to return to Rome anyway so one coin was enough.)
I had to make Hal re-enact his throw because I wasn't quick enough with the camera.
Next we headed to the Piazza Navona, which is the home of Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers. (Again, an Angels and Demons site. We weren't trying to hit them all, they just happen to be a lot of the most famous places in Rome.) Here's the fountain with the Egyptian obelisk:
Here's a long shot of the whole piazza. I was really glad we weren't there in the middle of summer when everything would have been 100 times more crowded. Late fall was a perfect time to go. Not as many people and the weather was still nice, too.
Next, on to the Vatican. Initially, I wasn't as interested in this, though I did kind of want to see the Sistene Chapel. I am so glad we went. I really loved all the things we saw as we rushed through all the corridors in the Vatican museums to get to the Sistene Chapel.
Here we took a brief stop in the courtyard. We've debated back and forth as to if the statue of a head to the right of Hal's shoulder is an important one, or just a generic head. Please let us know if you know anything about this.
A lot of the photos I took in the Vatican museums turned out suspiciously blurry. I'm not sure if I accidentally put the camera on a strange setting or if there was some kind of divine intervention.
No photos could be taken in the Sistene Chapel itself, but to give you an idea of the coloring, it is approximately the same idea as the main colors used here, mostly the blues around the edges:
In the Sistene Chapel you were supposed to be quiet, but every once in a while a guard would have to yell "Silence!", kind of breaking the mood of the place. Also, the ceiling was a lot taller that Hal and I expected it to be; it was a tall and long, skinny room. There was something else off about the room and it wasn't until later that I figured out that it was because there were no pews in it. It was all big and open, I'm sure to fit all the people in because it was packed, even when we were there. So to me, it really didn't look like a chapel, just a big open room.
Next we went to St. Peter's Square. The building on the right is where the Pope's apartments are and Aldo pointed out the window where he gives his addresses from. Also, the building on the left is where the white smoke comes from when a new Pope is elected.
Our last stop was this statue. For the life of me, I can't remember what it is of. I'll have to find out from Hal and correct this later. It's getting late and I want to get this posted tonight. If anyone else knows, let me know!
It's pretty though, isn't it? The trees to the side of the statue are Umbrella trees and are Italy's national tree. I can't remember what they are called in Italian. (Edited: The statue is of Garibaldi, commemmorating his battle in defense of the Roman Republic - I believe it was against the French - in around 1849 I think. I'll double check this and fix in a day or two when I get a minute.)
By the end of the tour, Aldo seemed like one of the family.
I had to restrain myself from singing any Aldo Nova songs under my breath all day. I didn't think anyone else but Hal would get it, and even that's questionable. (I kept thinking "Life is just a fantasy. Can you live this fantasy life?" and "It's too late, I've walked out the door. It's too late to tell me you're sorry.....Oh you liar, liar, liar." or my personal favorite, "So long, well it's sad to say but you're only foolin' yourself. So long, I'm glad you're happy that way but you're only foolin' yourself." Yes, I had that tape in jr. high.)
Here is our last view of Rome before it was time to stuff ourselves back into the van and head back to the ship.
Next stop: Pisa and Florence