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My Road to Rome

This winter, I was able to spend some time in Rome. This was my third time traveling through Italy but my first time being able to explore the country’s most iconic city. Out of all the cities that I have explored in Europe; Rome has been the one that amazed me the most. The sheer volume and density of art, architecture, and history that is seeped into the city is unmatched. Rome had spent large portions of modern human history as a central hub of commerce. This prominence began with the growth of the Ancient Roman Republic to the Byzantine and Holy Roman Empire that followed. Later in its history, Rome also became a key component of the Renaissance and a key religious center for Europe due to the growth of Vatican City within Rome. These layers of history are pronounced within the city. As you are strolling up and down the streets, there is history that can be uncovered around every corner. During one morning, I took a 45 minute walk from my hotel by the Colosseum to a tour meetup location in one of the city’s plazas. This was easily one of the most joyous city strolls I had ever taken. As I exited my hotel, I looked up at the Ancient Roman Colosseum and the spent the first portion of my walk in the shadow of this world wonder. As I was exiting the shadow of the Coliseum, I ventured through the streets of the city and was amazed at how each building I was walking past was inlaid with gorgeous architecture, marble features, and a pristine appearance. Even the everyday hotels and stores were accented by marble busts. In between all this architecture, I was overwhelmed by the density of iconic landmarks I was wandering past. Shortly after wandering past the Coliseum, I was greeted by the Roman Forum rising above me. A few minutes later, I was strolling past the Trevi Fountain. Shortly afterwards, I was strolling down a set of stairs to get a closer look at a marble obelisk that caught my eye. It was not until I turned around, did I realize that I had unknowingly descended the Spanish Steps.

Even the meals starting on my first night in the city were memorable. Although I arrived in Rome later than I would have liked, luckily my hotel was right next to the coliseum with streets lined with incredible restaurants that offered spectacular views. I ventured into a restaurant called the Royal Art Café and tried out a charcuterie platter along with their smoked salmon taco and mortadella roll with ricotta appetizer. A great meal eaten in the shadow (figurative) of the Coliseum itself was a great way to spend my first night in Rome. The following night, I enjoyed my most memorable dinner experience within Rome. I found restaurant near the Coliseum that had a seat by the window available. This allowed me to enjoy an evening with an Italian cheese charcuterie board, cappuccinos, and pasta while gazing out at the backlit Coliseum. A quintessential Italian experience.

While Rome is overflowing with iconic landmarks; there were two sites that stood out to me the most: the Coliseum itself and Palatine Hill nearby.  The history within this city is palpable. No where is this more evident that at Palatine hill near the Coliseum. This excavated section of the city allows visitors to start at the early architecture, temples, and forms of the early Roman Republic and rise further and further up towards newer buildings that encompass the Roman empire, holy Roman period, renaissance, and beyond. The top of this locale provides a serene palace top garden to stroll through that also allows for panoramic views of the city expanding around you. A great area to take in all the historic periods that have made up the city. Located right in between the iconic Coliseum and Trevi fountain, this is a must-see site for those visiting Rome. Nearby, the Coliseum is considered one of the 7 wonders of the new world, and it deserves its spot on this list. It was a privilege to see this incredible site in person and be able to tour the inside of it. You truly feel the history and majesty of this iconic building from the moment you walk in. From it’s inclusion in Hollywood epics such as Gladiator to its frequent use in high school history curriculums, wandering through the ancient walls of the Coliseum is a must for travelers to Rome.

While I had fallen in love with the city of Rome, I also wanted to explore two other nearby locations within Italy during my stay: Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. I boarded a bus and was able to take a day trip from Rome to the nearby city of Pompeii, home of Mount Vesuvius and the historic remains of ancient Pompeii. This ancient Roman city was destroyed and covered in ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted. This rapid covering allowing the city to become very well preserved and now offers a glimpse into what life was like in a major town during the height on the ancient Roman empire. From the arena to the brothel, being able to walk these streets and get a glimpse into this slice of history was a great experience. After a few hours exploring Pompeii, I boarded the bus and continued down the road towards the Almafi Coast to spend the remainder of the day exploring the coastal city of Positano. The Almafi is a section of coastline in southern Italy that reminded me a lot of Santorini in Greece. The towns are made up of a collection of winding, narrow streets filled with restaurants and boutique shops. At the end of this winding series of streets is a black sand beach that provides amazing views of the sea along with the surrounding cliffs that are lined with buildings in the signature architectural style that this coastline is known for.

Known as the gold coast due to its abundance of lemons as well as other citrus products; this allows an amazing selection of lemon-flavored goods to be found within the town's bakeries ranging from lemon custard to sorbet. The seafood here is also a must try and pairs well with the incredible ocean views offered at many of the restaurants in town.

Rome and it’s surrounding countryside has left an impression on me that I am unlikely to forget. It has further fueled my desire to return to Italy and explore more of both the city of Rome and other sections of Italy and I hope to do soon. From Tuscany to Venice, the country of Italy offers countless adventures. One item I have on my bucket list is the Puez-odle Altopiano trail that is in the Italian Dolomites within the southern section of the country. That is a world-renowned hike filled with towering mountains and fields of wildflowers that I look forward to experience for myself. But that is a story for another day…


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