Rome, renowned as the Eternal City and capital of Italy, was fascinating in its bustling energy as a modern metropolis surrounding timeless vestiges of its tumultuous political, cultural and religious heritage. Our 1987 bus tour group revelled in the joys of seeing world famous landmarks – the Coliseum, Roman Forum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican – and various other attractions.
The Coliseum ruins were almost disappointing – no gladiators or roaring lions to be seen – but just being there brought ancient history graphically to mind. It was thrilling to wander by the ancient Forum, located at the center of the ancient city of Rome and the location of important religious, political and social activities. Historians believe people first began publicly meeting in the open-air Forum around 500 B.C., when the Roman Republic was founded.
Ruins of many public buildings still stand in the Forum, while scores of cats may be seen throughout the area.
The beautiful Trevi Fountain was not to be missed, nor the practice of tossing coins into its waters.
A tour of the Vatican allowed us to marvel at the splendour of the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Modern architecture was also to be admired in viewing the enormous white marble Victor Emmanuel II monument, honouring the first King of a united Italy.
Sports fans were in for a treat when we visited what is known as the Stadium of the Marbles, lined by 59 Carrara marble statues in classical style portraying athletes performing various sports activities. The hockey statues were our favourites.
Walking the streets of Rome left ladies in our group more than a little annoyed by the arrogant tendencies of local menfolk to strut determinedly along the sidewalk, forcing women to step aside as lesser beings.
Three of us ventured to a place we might well have missed – it was a bit scary! The Catacombs proved every bit as spooky as imagined, especially when we learned that its labyrinthine underground passageways – all burrowed through dust-like loose earth – went on for miles. Make a wrong turn and you could be wandering for hours, or even forever!
Traffic on Rome streets was so busy that parking spaces were hard to find – but some took inventive ways to fit in.