Our next stop was Rome, the eternal city. There was so much to see and do in Rome, and it seems like you could spend weeks there and still not see everything there is. Definitely one of the highlights of Rome was Katie joining us in our adventure.
Early Saturday morning, I headed to the airport to meet Katie and bring her back into the city. I was afraid that I would be late and that she would be already waiting for me at the airport, but when I got there, I saw that her flight was delayed over 3 hours! After what seemed like forever, she finally came through the gate and after lots of hugs, we headed back into the city to meet up with the rest of the family for a full day of sightseeing.
Our first stop was the Vatican, where we went through the Vatican museums. The Vatican museums have everything from Egyptian antiquities to Etruscan collections to works from Raphael to modern art, finishing with Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel always seems surprisingly small to me. It is just a chapel, that happens to be painted by one of the most famous artists of all time. Pictures were not allowed in the Sistine Chapel, and there were guards walking around stopping people with cameras, but I was extra sneaky, and got a couple of pictures.
After the museums, we went into St. Peter's Basilica just as mass was starting. You can't help but be impressed by this magnificent church. It is huge- the largest church in Christianity. It is also very ornately decorated. Pictures don't really do it justice, but here is my best attempt.
After our tour through the Vatican, we headed out on foot to explore the city. We crossed the Tiber at Castel Sant'Angelo and then walked through Piazza Navona, and then saw the Trevi Fountain. We all threw coins into the Trevi Fountain over our shoulders, which means that we will all be returning to Rome someday. The Trevi Fountain is huge, and you can hear the rushing water before you can see it.
Near the Trevi Fountain is the Pantheon, so that was our next stop. The Pantheon was originally built over 2000 years ago as a temple for the Roman gods. Today, it is one of the best preserved buildings of ancient Rome. One of the reasons that the Pantheon is so impressive is the mathematics of it. The height from the floor to the open oculus is exactly the same as the diameter of the circle. Still today, the dome of the Pantheon is the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome.
After a nice dinner, we decided to walk to the Colosseum to see it lit up at night. It was quite a site to see.
The next day was another full day of sightseeing. We spent some time walking around the Spanish Steps, and then walked past the Pantheon and stopped at the Trevi Fountain for a gelato. The main portion of our day was spent around the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. For me, it is incredible to think that you are walking in the same places that Caesar once ruled. There is so much history in this area, and the feeling is hard to describe.
I have so many more pictures of Rome, and I can't post them all on here, so if you are interested in seeing more, you can check out my picasa web album at http://picasaweb.google.com/recarlisle/Roma#.