Day One - Arrival in Roma
After a brief hop over the pond in a Northwest
Airlines A330 Airbus, I arrived at Fiumicino
Airport at 7:30am local time. I managed to sleep for almost the
entire flight, so I was ready to meet up with Fai and tackle the city.
I was greeted by Fai, Monica, and Elena, who had been touring the region
for three weeks already and Monica's cousin,
Eliseo, who would prove to be most helpful and kind. Eliseo drove
us to Rome, which is about 40 minutes from the airport and we began to
hunt for our first hotel.
Driving in Italia is quite an experience. Motorists in vehicles resembling
Go Carts, taking most traffic laws as mild suggestions, weave in and
out, stop suddenly, and often drive on the wrong side to get where they're
going. There is an odd sort of cooperation among drivers though and
the chaos seems acceptable to everyone.
We found Hotel Montebello and checked in. The room was cozy and and
clean and very close to the Roma
Termini (Central Train Station), where the Metro
Subway System is also located.
Room at Hotel Montebello
Monica wanted to pick up some gifts at the Hard
Rock Cafe, so we all trekked down to Via Veneto (Veneto Street),
which is well known disctrict for shopping, dining, and upscale hotels.
After shopping, the three of them departed and Fai and I were off in
search of food.
After a nice meal of some pasta with tuna, we caught the Metro to the
Colosseo. It's somewhat surprising seeing the structure right in the
middle of a busy street. Not what I expected. We walked around it and
the surrounding area and decided to return the next day to go inside.
(Click to Enlarge)
Instead, we hopped back on the Metro and headed for Città
del Vaticano (Vatican City), where we found Basilica
di San Pietro (Saint Peter's Basilica) first. Built in AD 324, the
original Basilica was built on top of Saint Peter's tomb, as a tribute.
Rebuilt in 1503, with the final touch, Michelangelo's
Dome, being completed in 1547. We walked around the piazza and then
into the church and even witnessed a mass taking place, seemingly oblivious
to the many spectators meandering about.
Dome was calling and Fai was listening, so we climbed 491 steps, often
through narrow, twisting stairways, to the top. It was quite the journey.
Many people stopped to rest along the way, but there is no way to turn
back. Several times we would see a plateau and think we were finished
climbing, only to have a new section of stairs across the way.
Fai at the top of Michelangelo's Dome
(Click to Enlarge)
Once we reached the top, the view of the piazza, the gardens, and all
of Rome was incredible. Then came the bad news. We had to climb back
down an equal set of stairs.
Back aboard the Metro, after a quick switch from line A to Line B,
we set our compass toward the Pantheon.
The "Pan-Theon" or "All Gods," began in 27 BC as
a temple for all the gods, then later was converted into a Christian
church in order to stave off destruction after the fall of Roma. At
exactly 142 feet in width and 142 feet in height, the dome that tops
the Pantheon is a measure of ancient architectural perfection, studied
by many artists and architects in centuries to follow.
Columns of the Pantheon, shipped
from Egypt, are the largest in Italia
The Trevi Fountain was overflowing with tourists, so we decided to
continue on and return another time. Our last stop in this eventful
first day would be at Piazza
Navona. The square was lively with street artists, performers,
and hordes of people. Three notable fountains, Fontana dei Quattro
Fiumi, Fontana di Nettuno, and Fontana del Moro grace Piazza Navona,
and the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone completes the square.
dei Quattro Fiumi at Piazza Navona
(Click to Enlarge)
We watched some of the performers for a while and then brought this most eventful first day to a close.