Monday, August 3, 2009

Rome - July 2009

I was lucky enough to get to tag along with my friends Richard, Janet, Marc, & Keith on a trip to Europe!

We had to leave at the crack of dawn to catch our flight....
But that's OK because it was FIRST CLASS all the way, baby! All I had to do was relax, play video games, and drink coffee.....

We visited the Tivoli Gardens at the Villa D'este. There were about a gazillion fountains - and they were all gorgeous!

Next stop was Villa Adriana or Hadrian's Villa. It was created as a retreat for the Roman Emporer Hadrian in the 2nd century. Here I am standing in front of a model of what the villa looked like in its hey-day.

This pool is said to honor Hadrian's "favored one" Antinous - also suspected to be his lover, who died a suspicious death in Egypt (Hadrien's wife could be a suspect).

On to the Forum, where I heard there is great shopping....

I was misinformed! In reality, the Forum served as a city square and a central hub where the people of Rome gathered for justice & faith.

I also got to see an ancient theater. I live in California, where really really old things are like 150 years old. So seeing sites from the 1st and 2nd centuries is mind boggling!

And exhausting - here I am with Marc, Keith, & Janet taking a break.......

On to the Colosseum. Richard tried to tell me I could play with all sorts of wild animals here, but I'm on to him...

What an interesting place though - it's the largest amphitheater built by the Romans, it was used for gladiator games, hunts, plays, mock sea battles (Seriously! They could fill it up with water!), and executions....

Here I am in front of the Republic Fountain:

On our second day, we got to tour the Catacombs:

Pictures aren't allowed inside, so I just have this - showing the ancient symbol of a fish. This symbol was a secret way to show that a Christian lived in that place. They could not express themselves openly during persecutions. The Catacombs are ancient underground cemeteries for the Christian community, used from the 2nd century through the 8th or 9th centuries. They may have also been used as hiding places during persecutions


On to St. Peter's Basilica. We met our guide right outside:

St. Peter's is considered to be the burial place of the Apostle Peter. Catholics believe he is buried right under the alter. For this reason, many popes have also been buried here.

We also toured the Vatican.

This is a marble bath:
And a coffin made out of rare red marble. I hear it's worth millions - as if you could actually sell something like that! (but then, it does remind me of things I've seen at Hearst Castle).
I like this tapestry of Christ that was hanging in the Vatican
Behind me is the Sistine Chapel - no pictures allowed inside, of course!
This is a Holy Door - only opened every 5 years. There is a whole ceremony that goes with it. I don't know why it's holy or it's only opened in certain years. Does anyone know?

Tomorrow - on to Munich!