Ahhh... Rome. The Eternal City.

I could honestly write for hours about all the amazing things there are to see and do in this city. That is all despite the fact that I was only there a few days... and I could live there for years and not see everything this beautiful city has to offer!

But the people have spoken and wanted to hear about the historical sites that I saw while staying in this beautiful city!

Today, I will be taking you to the sites of ancient Rome... the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, and to a time more recent and dearer to my heart, the Vatican (including the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums) and Scala Sancta and Mary Major... and everywhere in between!

There was honestly so much, that it will need to be broken up into multiple posts. Here is part one.

So, let's begin this adventure... shall we??

Let's start with one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. It is absolutely impossible to think of Rome without thinking of the Colosseum. Contrary to common belief, this arena was used only for sporting events. It was not used to martyr the Christians... that would be the Circus.

This would have been the equivalent of a football stadium in ancient Rome, if football in ancient Rome included gladiators killing each other to win a game. (Reference movie 'Gladiator'). But this is where they would reenact major battles so the people could "experience" them. I only put that in quotations because they were very biased.

But as my tour guide made very clear... the naval battles would not have been reenacted here. For several very important reasons.

If you reference the photo above, you will see that the floor of the Colosseum is a bunch of rooms and holding areas... this would have actually been underneath the actual floor of the arena, which was made of... wood! And anyone who has hardwood floors will tell you, you don't want those getting wet.

Underneath the floors was an intricate system of armories, props for theatrical productions and wild animals like lions.

Everything from the seating to the entrances were created for the specific audiences. And your status depended solely on your trade. There were entrances for the craftsmen, politicians and, of course, the emperor himself.

But the most fascinating thing I learned was that the number one food all these Romans loved to eat while watching these sporting events.... chicken wings.

I guess some things are timeless.

Tips on visiting the Colosseum:

Definitely worth getting a tour guide. She really made history come alive. But it was also great because she got our tickets. Not all tour guides offer that service... so make sure to do your research.

It is always busy. There are days and times when it is less busy and times when it is more busy. We went at midday in February... as you can see from the photos... it was still busy.

Next let's talk about the Roman forum. If you have seen the Roman forum in the years past, it would be worth it to see them again. They found the forum much like they find most of the ancient sites... they wanted to build on top of it and decided to see how far down it went. Decades later and they are still digging.

This was the heartbeat of ancient Rome. This is where the politicians had their 'offices' and where people would come to hear about the newest legislation. This was the place where rhetoric and debate were commonplace. Probably not all of it was good... I mean... it was a democracy. But it was still a place where history was made.

I was able to walk on a road that was laid by Romulus. I personally think that is really cool.

But the coolest building in the Roman forum was the Round Temple of Vesta. This was the home of the vestal virgins and the sacred flame. The flame burned non-stop for centuries until the college of vestals was disbanded in 391 AD.

I am glad that pagan worship was disbanded. But it reminds me that though they have no idea what they are truly looking for, there is something innately written in the very fabric of who we are that looks for beauty, truth and goodness.

These women gave up the hope of having husbands and families to tend to a flame they believed would secure safety and peace for their people.

So to me... that in itself is at least a little bit beautiful.

The thing that strikes me about this city is we have nothing to compare it to in the States. We have only been around for a couple centuries. Rome has been building and growing for millennia!

It truly is the Eternal City.


Same as the Colosseum. In fact, the same tour guide we got for the Colosseum is the one who gave us the tour for the Roman Forum.

They are right across the street so it made sense to see them on the same day!

My final historical site for this post is the Trevi Fountain. Oh... don't worry. I will be doing another post on all the amazing Catholic churches that I was able to see my brief visit to Rome. But for now, I will finish with one of the most beautiful pieces of artwork in the world.

One of the reasons it is truly beautiful is that it was the dream of so many... who never got to realize this dream. Initially the dream of Pope Urban VIII and the commission was given to Bernini but the dream was abandoned with the Pope's death.

But 100 years later, Pope Clement XII held a contest for the design of the fountain and eventually was given to Nicola Salvi. Work began in 1732.

But Salvi died with the work halfway finished in 1751. It was finally finished in 1762 by Guiseppe Pannini and was inaugurated by Pope Clement XIII on May 22nd of that year.

Despite all the circumstances, like all of us, this fountain became a reality against all odds. And it is truly impressive and worth visiting... despite the crowds.

It is a magnificent work of art and a great piece of Roman history.

Tips for visiting:

It will be crowded... unless you are there first thing in the morning. From 10 a.m. on, expect massive crowds. We were there in February and it was pretty cold. And it was still very crowded.

If you haven't guessed it... I fell in love with Rome. But even though I was only there a few days, it made such a deep and lasting impact on me.

So if you haven't added this city to your list, you really should.

Keep the faith!