20 June 2012

Team P’s Italian Adventure: Rome, part 1

As I mentioned yesterday, I wrote a lot about our wedding last year. And yet I’m sure I could still drum up more things to say about it – a tutorial on how we made our table linens, a primer on fonts for DIY wedding invitations, a gajillion other details that were VERY IMPORTANT at the time but maybe.... not? so much? actually? in the end? But I’ll save that for another anniversary.

We’re still going to celebrate with a series of posts, though. (I see you thinking you would get off easy but NOPE.) Yesterday I looked back to the time before our wedding yesterday, but today I’m looking to the days after. That’s right:

Welcome to our honeymoon! Sorry we didn’t invite you along for the real deal. Wait... no, I’m not. But at least you can see the recap posts!

I’ve mentioned our Italian honeymoon offhandedly and... on-handedly (?) a downright ludicrous amount of times here and there on the blog – here, here, here, here, here, and here, to name just a few or many times. Clearly, it was a memorable adventure and felt like the opportunity of a lifetime. But I haven’t told you about it, or even bothered to run most of our photos through the Magic of Photoshop to make them keepsake-y. So bear with me while I relive the adventure here!

Our adventure began a couple of days after the wedding in Rome, the Eternal City. After flying through the night, we arrived good and jet-lagged the following morning in Italy. Fortunately, Mr. P had arranged for a car service to take us to our hotel, and I gotta say, it felt very honeymoon-swanky to look for a sign with our last name at the airport. Squee!

Rather than sleep, we fought the jet lag and went out-and-about. Here’s Mr. P right outside our charming hotel:

That’s not a painting, that’s a real statue back there. Rome just... does that.

Our first touristy activity was the National Museum, which is totally worth stopping in. I was in love with the many, many ancient mosaics we saw:

Judging by the number of photos I took of mosaics, I never got tired of them. But I did love the ancient sculptures too:

And considering we’d essentially been awake for over twenty-four hours by that point, I think we were doing pretty well!

But we didn’t last much longer, even though the museum was pretty spectacular. So, back to the hotel for a power nap, then back out for adventuring! Next on the list: the Spanish Steps. Except... we weren’t really sure how to get there. And can you blame us when some of the main thoroughfares look like this?

After a bit of confusion, though, we finally made it!

Although we accidentally approached it from the top, and then didn’t even realize we were there until we were at the bottom. Oops. Nevertheless! Spanish steps!

Continuing on our free-sights-around-town theme, we hit up the Trevi fountain next:

I was terrified of pickpockets there (with good reason) so Mr. P stood guard to let me take longish-exposure photographs without fear. We made a good team even then!

Except when it came to navigating. I was the opposite of helpful – as in, I’d suggest a route and we’d end up far from our destination. Fortunately Mr. P was a champ with a map:

And could get us back to our hotel, where we enjoyed the complimentary champagne I showed you above:

Whew! And that was just the first jet-lagged, culture-shocked day. The next day, though, was even more jam-packed with Roman adventures. We got up bright and early to head to the famous Colosseum:

Morning in the Colosseum was really magical, you guys. It wasn’t crowded just yet, and the light was gorgeous:

Before we arrived in Rome, I hadn’t realized how so many of the ancient sites were right there, just off the main road, just across the street from a modern building, just along the daily commute. So if you look out of the Colosseum from the inside, you see modern city life:

But turn around, and you’ll see this:

Yup. Stunning.

I didn’t ask too many people to take our photo, mostly because I was terrified of someone agreeing and then running off, stealing my camera. But often we would be asked to take one of someone else, and they’d offer to take ours in return.

Still, most of our vacation photos look like this:

Big heads crammed in foreground, blurry photo op in background.

That photo op, for the record, is the Arch of Constantine, just outside the Colosseum.

We saw that triumphal arch on our way to the Roman Forum, which is also adjacent to the Colosseum.

Right on the way in, we passed by the Arch of Titus, which has one of the only contemporary depictions of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The “contemporary” part of that is what stunned me so much. This place is full of very very old stuff. Most of which is falling apart, as you can see from this photo of the Forum I took from nearby Palatine Hill:

This is all that’s left of the Temple of Saturn:

Even those ruins were fascinating by themselves. But the Curia Julia (Senate House) is still standing, and I fa-reaked out over being inside it and seeing the paintings within:

Sure, the paintings are more recent. They date from the seventh century instead of the first. I mean, lame, right?

As we exited the Forum and Palatine Hill, we stopped briefly at the plaza on Capitoline Hill, designed by Michaelangelo:

And the Vittorio Emmanuel monument, which is so humongoginormous that I couldn’t even fit it all in my wide-angle lens from across the street:

To cap off our morning, we saw just a bit of the Trajan Forum:

That’s right, morning. We aren’t done yet! After a visit to the fantastic Basilica of San Clemente (a must-see with three amazing levels of church – which date from the 11th, 4th, and 1st centuries – all on top of each other), we headed to the Cathedral of Rome:

Which is not St. Peter’s Basilica. That’s in a totally different country, you guys! Haha, gotcha. This is the Basilica of St. John Lateran, and while it’s not as large or grand as St. Peter’s, I liked it almost as much. It is stunning.

Note the girl at the bottom left in the photo of the organ. That should give you a sense of scale.

And finally, we finished our second day at a well-known site. Can you guess what it is?

You’re right, it is the Pantheon! Thanks, Dan Brown!

I wasn’t as stunned by the Pantheon as I thought I might be – maybe I was tired from all the sights of the day, or maybe it was just the crowd not maintaining a “respectful silence”? But I was sort of amazed by how, close up, this two-thousand-year-old building is showing its age. See all the cracks?

And it was also pretty amazing, at the end of our packed day of sightseeing, I got to take a little rest and lounge on those two-thousand-year-old columns:

While our first two days in Rome were crazy busy, there’s more to come. So much more! Oh yes, I’m pushing your shoulders right back down on this couch until my vacation photos slideshow is done! Stay tuned!