When my husband first proposed a trip to Italy, I was on the fence. Italy was not one of the places I had ever had a strong desire to go. I mean, it was on the list, but only because I technically want to go everywhere eventually. I just really didn’t know too much about Italy. I knew there was Julius Caesar, and gladiators. I knew a little about the Roman empire, but mostly just that once upon a time it was huge, and then it fell. I knew that Vatican City was the smallest country in the world, coexisting with Mama Italy as the heart of the Catholic church, and the home of the Pope. I knew a very tiny amount about a minuscule portion of a country that was rich in culture and tradition. Of course I was not as excited as I could be; I was unprepared for everything I had in store for me.
I am honestly not sure how to condense my entire trip into one post. Rome? Amazing.
We stayed near the Colosseum, and visited on both our first and second days. The first day, we only saw the outside, and on the second we toured through. It was huge and impressive, and unbelievable. After the Colosseum, the rest of the trip begins to blur.
We visited Vatican city on Wednesday. Small tip for anyone traveling? Make sure to check the Pope’s schedule before you go. My husband had told me that the Pope would not be in the country when we went; he was wrong. By not checking the schedule we ended up arriving at San Peitro with hundreds of people who came to hear the Pope speak. Luckily, a trip through the Vatican museum killed enough time, we were able to enter the church afterwards.
We spent a lot of time in churches. I am not a religious person, but I love art and the best art in Rome seemed to be in Churches. The truth is, most of the churches sort of blend together in my mind. Of course, the Sistine chapel was distinctive, but it was also one of the few I knew before I went. We took pictures in the churches were it was allowed, but I’m honestly not certain I would be able tell which pictures came from which church or even which day.
I suppose my favorite would be easy. It was not a large church, or maybe the part where we visited wasn’t even a church at all. A portion of the tour was focused on the history of the Capuchin monks. (Side note, according to the guide book we had, the cappuccino got its name from the brown robes worn by these monks. True or not, I like it.) The tour ended with a trip through the most beautiful crypt a person could visit. According to the story, a monk took the bones of dead monks that had been displaced and used them to create art as a sort of penance. It gave him time to consider his sins, and think about the life he would live after his death. It was haunting, and disturbing, and beautiful. I think what struck me the most is the devotion he showed. There is very little in life I feel that passionately about. I wished I could feel that way, even just for a moment. It truly inspired me. No pictures were allowed inside, but it is worth looking up if you are interested.
The trip was exhausting. We always walk everywhere when we travel. Part of it is being slightly cheap; walking is a lot less expensive than taking a cab. A lot of it is the ease; you never have to worry about parking, or weird traffic patterns in an unfamiliar city when you walk, not as long as you can look around an make certain you are not hit. However, I learned that five days of straight walking is about my limit. We were all very sore, and I am still not entirely certain I have recovered an ability to walk normally.
I also learned that gelato is amazing. It was a good thing we walked so much, because there were a few days in there were we enjoyed double gelato, as well as pasta and pizza. I was happy to know that gluten free is surprisingly easy in Italy; we even learned on our last day McDonalds has gluten free burgers. Not all of the gluten free food was that impressive to me. Not to brag, but I think my pizza crust was better; however I am pretty sure the crust I had was frozen, not fresh.
The end of our trip left us with one absolute fact. We need to go back to Italy. Rome was amazing, but we need to see more, experience more, and find the rest of a beautiful country, full of history. I don’t think it is a place I would want to live (Edinburgh is still winning that race), but I definitely want to go back.