I did it! I went to Rome and spent five nights there, but there are still a lot left to see. After spending my first month in Florence, I found Rome to be huge. While I could walk everywhere in Florence and get to my location in under an hour, I had to take the metro to save time and my feet. Still this did not stop me from seeing the Colosseum first thing. Laura from Via Lingua took me to the Colosseum and we spent her last night in Europe just staring up at the history.
The very next day, I took a tour. Since all the English tours were sold out, I paid for an audio tour as I walked around the inside of the Colosseum. It was epic! I took a lot of photos but I believe the fanciest cameras could not capture the essence of the Colosseum. As I stared down from the top, I imagined what it would be like to watch gladiators fight to the death and slay vicious animals that were intentionally starved to make the games more brutal. I saw the remains of the marble seats that the senators would sit on as they watched the games. Thinking about what took place made me thankful that modern forms of entertainment are not nearly as brutal. Sure, football players can get seriously injured, but that’s nothing compared to fights to the death.
What I did not know before was how the Colosseum was used after Rome became Christianized. For many years after the brutal games ended, the Colosseum became a stage for actors to reenact the crucifixion of Christ. There even is a cross erected in the Colosseum as a remembrance to not only Christ’s sacrifice but to honor the deaths of the Christians who were persecuted before the Christianization of Rome. As a Christian myself, I found this very symbolic. Somehow the Colosseum seems like a fitting place to hold passion plays.
The Colosseum was definitely my favorite site to see, but the remains of the Roman forum was a very close second. I saw the ruins of the homes where past senators and emperors lived. I saw the remains of pillars that were once erected. I saw old fountains and baths. As I walked through the ruins, I tried to imagine what it looked like 2000 or more years ago.
On another day in Rome, I visited Vatican City. I paid for a tour guide, but I wished I hadn’t. For one, the agency wanted to milk as much money out of tourists by having large groups. I was one of 20 or more in the group. We had to wear headsets so that we could hear her. Not only that, the group was in both French and English so it look twice as long to get to all the places . I don’t see why they do not have two separate smaller groups. It was also hard to keep up because not only were there 20 of us but several other groups of 20+ pushing and shoving just to see a bronze statute of Hercules or get into the Sistine Chapel.
Despite the sweaty bodies and fear of someone pick-pocketing my belongings, I did get to see Michelangelo’s paintings in the chapel. I saw the painting of God creating Adam with their hands reaching out towards each other. I did not take a picture since there was a strict rule against taking pictures. Because it was a church, tourists were asked to have their shoulders, knees covered and refrain from taking photographs. This did not bother me, but allowing the chapel to be packed with tourists took away from the sacredness. Still, the chapel was beautiful and the paints were incredible. Fun fact: Michelangelo refused to drink anything while he was working because he did not want to go outside of the chapel to go the bathroom. Because of this, he only drank liquids in the evening but this resulted in kidney stones. Also Michelangelo painted the devil with the face of one of the cardinals who he personally knew at the time of the painting. This greatly amused me.
Honestly, I was not completely thrilled with Vatican City. I went there because I felt that it was a must see. On the day I went to Vatican City, it happened to be on a day when the Pope made an appearance before the crowd. He stood inside a white car and held out his hand to bless the people as he drove on by. Curiosity got the best of me so I stood in the crowd and saw the Pope drive right in front of me. Afterwards I left and did not care to listen to his speech. I know this is an odd thought but I could not help but think about how I have never seen any of the presidents in real life. I much rather trade seeing the Pope for seeing the president. Still, it is something I can brag about now even though I am not Catholic.
This sums up my trip to Rome. After five nights of Rome, I am ready to move onto another city in Italy. Currently I am on a train to Naples. I’ve heard some good things and not so good things about this city, but it is still on my list of places I want to see in Italy. Plus I have to see Pompeii at some point. Stay tuned for more!
JOB HUNT UPDATE: I had three Skype interviews this week, two job offers, and two more emails asking for interviews. God has shown me that something will work out for me in Europe. I am just not sure where right now. Again, I will not say which school, city or country until I officially accept a position. Please keep me in your prayers as I make important decisions.