Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Italy - Day 2: Rome

Having gotten the "lay of the land" a bit on Wednesday, I grabbed the Canon 6D MKII and headed out from my hotel. I was getting a mildly late start on the day, and I knew that would curtail some of my sightseeing, but I was determined to get in as much shooting as I could.
Once again, I subjected myself to the Roman rail system which, admittedly, is probably a lot easier to cope with then I let on. For whatever reason, getting downtown is pretty easy. Getting back is the challenge. But I digress.

I took the train to the "underground (the subway) and took the underground to the Colosseum. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but as soon as you step out of the underground station, well, there it is:

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy...

I suppose it was fitting that this was the first thing I saw as I emerged from the underground. Completed in the year 80 AD, there's probably no site which, in the tourists mind, represents ancient Rome more than the Colosseum.

Located right next to the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine. The arch was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312:

The Arch of Constantine, located between the Colosseum and Palantine Hill...

From the Colosseum, I walked up near Palatine Hill, which is the location of the Forum. The line for this was, literally, a quarter of a  mile long, so I opted to not stand in it. Instead, I explored the surrounding area, and came across the Basillica di Santa Francesca Romana, which is the final resting place of Pope Gregory XI. There are no shortage of churches and basilicas in Rome, and this one, while perhaps smaller than many, is pretty impressive:

Inside the Santa Francesca Romana...

The final resting place of Pope Gregory XI, in a chamber located below the altar...

Following my visit to the Basillica di Santa Francesca Romana, I decided to make what would end up being my first of two visits to the Vatican. As a Roman Catholic (albeit a non-practicing one), I can't imagine visiting Rome and not visiting the Vatican. Countless times I've seen it on television, either during a televised Easter service or the election of a new Pope or the death of an old one. I'm not sure what I expected, but in some ways it was much smaller than I expected but, at the same time, was far more grand.

The Vatican city-state didn't actually exist until 1929, but there has been a presence since the year 324, when Constantine authorized the construction of a basilica on the site. The current basilica was started in 1506, but in 1547, Pope Paul III commissioned Michaelangelo to propose a new design. It was finally completed in 1612, when the facade of St. Peter's was finished.

A more extensive collection of photos from the Vatican will be posted in a later entry, but here are some photos from my first visit, which included only the exterior:


As I left the Vatican to make my way back to the Colosseum to catch the underground, I passed the Castel San't Angelo. Originally commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family, it's since been used by the Popes as both a fortress and castle. It's now a museum, open to the public.

And, if you recall my comments regarding the Piazza Navona in my last entry, in the movie "Angels & Demons", the Cardinals who were kidnapped were said to be held here prior to being executed.

The Castel San't Angelo, completed in 139AD along the Tiber River...

Now, in my first entry here I mentioned the rail system here. If you're not already familiar with it (and why would you be) and you don't read or speak Italian, it can be tricky. I was faced with this as I was trying to make my way back to my hotel, and the rail system had me throwing my hands up in the air. And, much to my chagrin, the person in the information booth didn't speak English.

However, sooner or later you're likely to run into someone who does speak English. Someone like Christina:

My mass transit guardian angel...,

Christina not only told me where I needed to go and how to get there, but she walked with me to make sure I didn't get lost a second time. I don't know where she was coming from or where she was going, but I know I'll be in her debt for rescuing me from the Roman rail system.

While I may not have visited as many sites as I'd hoped on my first full day in Rome, I have to admit that I'm pretty happy with the images I came away with. Besides, considering I'd only been in the country for around 36 hours, there would be ample opportunity to shoot around Rome again during my stay...

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