Today was one of those days.
One of those days that you have an incredible time because you didn’t plan a thing.
One of those days that you are with the ones you love and can subsequently act like your ridiculous self because you know they will still love you.
Our day started by a visit to this monument something that we would have passed by had we not had an educated guide to tell us it’s significance. This ornate structure was built in the 100s AD and has literally been there since that time, no cracks from Earthquakes, no extra stabilizers. That almost 2,000 years. Simply unimaginable.
Oh yeah, we took another group picture.
And then we walked passed a shop that sells things to clergy.
We almost went in. I’ve had a hankering for a nun outfit lately.
After this, Eros took us inside a Gothic church. It was ornately decorated, but the entertaining part of the experience was the coin machine that turned a light on for you to take a picture of a painting.
So well, we put coins inside of a machine to turn a light on to take a picture.
Because, well, Eros told us to.
We then made our way to the Pantheon.
It was like out of a picture book. Also constructed in the early part of the 1st century AD, this building still stands in its original condition. I was simply astounded and couldn’t believe my own eyes.
After seeing Greek ruins from roughly the same time period, it was incredible to witness how well things can actually be preserved. I physically struggled to grasp the age of these ruins.
Oh wow, group picture!
And then, I saw a group of Roman gladiators posing for pictures with tourists.
I wanted to do it and wanted to do it bad.
Eros ensured me that there would be others, but I don’t think he understood my passion for this opportunity.
I told him, “if there is no more gladiators you are not getting a tip!”
There were more gladiators.
I felt defeated. And I also realized that Eros and I were in a continued struggle fest for domination.
And it was really fun.
We then walked to the Jewish ghetto where a Pope had placed the Jewish population. There were sobering plaques across the area stating when specific people were taken to Auschwitz and never returned.
It became real. The effect of WWII was right here. It was no longer a history lesson anymore, I was in the very place where it had been a devastating reality.
Then my mom saw this theater (That the Coliseum was modeled after) and she yelled, “GUYS! I SEE THE COLISEUM.”
No mom. That’s not the Coliseum.
And then we saw a bridge that was built in the late 90s AD.
Still standing, still functioning, still incredible.
We then saw a beautiful view of the ancient forum. These Roman ruins were right next to modern society. What an incredible fusion of the past and the present.
It was breathtaking.
And then we saw this shrub with Remus and Ramus milking it.
And the promised gladiator was presented to me and I willingly had a photo session with him.
We finally arrived to the Coliseum and were tantalized by its massive beauty. Actually named the Amphitheare Flavian (after the Pope who commissioned it), it was nicknamed the Coliseum, after something that had to do with something that Eros said.
But, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t listening.
Below, were ruins of what used to be the Pope’s box seats in the Coliseum.
Eros, equipped with his handy picture books for ignorant tourists with no imagination (guilty), gave us an in depth history of the methods to gladiator battles.
And then he left us alone to explore.
Which, specifically for the three of us….was a very bad idea.
Before we started acting like barbarians, we took a moment to embrace the significance of this place.
Thousands of people were killed here during gladiator fights, skits that ended in death, and wild animal battles.
The floor was reconstructed to see what it looked like above and under. Below the surface, the wild animals were kept for the morning fights. They would be released for a cage and let onto the surface as the gladiator prepared for death or victory.
We were sobered by the reality of death and destruction here and how different life may have been.
But then we realized that life really isn’t different at all. Today, rather than watching death and destruction in person, we prefer to watch it in the comfort of a movie theater or “virtually” perform it in our own home.
What is different? We may condemn the Romans for the barbaric lifestyles, but how can we judge something that we also embrace?
In the words of Eros, “MADNESS!”
So after we were finished being inspirational, rational, elegant, and thoughtful, we decided to take the Coliseum by Brubaker style.
We took group pictures, because Eros taught us how.
Jayme and I took awkward prom pose pictures and decided to bag fight since we didn’t have any swords.
And we continued to bag fight.
Until our moms made us stop.
So we stopped fighting and started talking about what they did with all the dead gladiators.
The words “local and fresh” meat actually came out of our mouths.
We are sick people.
So, we left the Coliseum and decided to eat. Because, as I’m sure you have now understood, we do that kind of thing pretty often.
Eros gave us the name of a restaurant that has fresh homemade gnocchi. After searching far and wide and thinking we had the place, we sat down, looked at the menu (and because we forgot the name), didn’t actually think it was the right place.
There was only one mention of gnocchi on the menu.
So, well, we didn’t order it.
When Eros found out, he shouted, “Well. then what’s the point of you going!”
Oh, I just love that man.
We were desperately hungry after a long walk through Rome and decided to feast on bread, olive oil, and salt.
Which we did, and did quite well might I add.
I ordered a delicious tomato based broth soup with chickpeas and pasta.
Such a comfort food. It was perfect.
Once we were all full and ready to embarrass ourselves again, we decided to make our way to the metro.
But first, we decided to sing songs on top of a cliff to all of the tourists down below. And because I taught Jayme the Italian word for egg plant, we decided that would be an excellent theme for an Italian melody.
People looked at us. But, at this point, that was the norm of our trip.
And in remembrance of The United States gymnast Micheala, we decided to not be impressed either.
I mean, the Coliseum, no big deal.
The Trevi Fountain was our next stop, and my was it breathtaking.
We just sat there and stared for an hour, watching people throw coins over their shoulders.
So we decided to start playing this game called, “Let’s see how many pictures of other people we can take.”
So we literally went around and asked people who looked like they were struggling with the self-portrait iphone setting and said, “Would you like me to take a photo of you?”
It was fun.
And again, we got to see a newly married couple enjoy the Trevi fountain.
And we wouldn’t miss the opportunity to throw coins into the fountain.
Eros didn’t even tell us to do this. We did it on our own. We were proud of our accomplishment.
And then we did something bad.
We touched the water. And it was fun.
I had this strange desire to get pushed into the Trevi fountain.
But no one did.
So instead I moved my head back and forth extremely fast.
And because of our lesson on group pictures, we decided to take one.
We also had the incredible opportunity to witness an engagement.
It was oober romantic.
I leaned over to my cousin and whispered, “well, that was original.”
Our last major stop of the day was the Spanish Steps, which apparently aren’t even Spanish. They were actually given as a gift from the French and were named so because of their proximity to the Palazzo Spagna.
But before we arrived, we passed this disgusting display of plastic-infused gelato.
It kind of made me want to vomit rainbows and ceramic teddy bears.
The Spanish steps were much smaller than my imagination lent me to believe. However, the reality of the romantic vibe throughout the entire Palazzo was evident.
We enjoyed beautiful views as we relaxed on the steps, sang opera, and got (you guessed it) strange looks.
And throughout our madness, we were able to inspire several smiles to, which made it all completely worth it.
And then we entered a store that would cause my demise.
A store FILLED with handmade headbands.
It was bad.
Jayme and I spend hours trying on headbands and prancing around the store like we were children.
And yes, I bought some.
Then we realized, yet again, that we were hungry.
So we found an adorable pizzeria/restaurant and went inside.
I was so pleased to finally be able to enjoy a nice green salad.
We ordered bruschetta.
And my mom and I split a fantastic pizza with mushrooms and sausage.
Like seriously, it was really good.
To go with our bottle of red wine that we overly enjoyed, we ended the evening with a beautifully presented tiramisu.
We sat and enjoyed each other’s company for several hours as we poured out our hearts and listened to our moms share about their childhoods. We spoke about my great grandma, my mom’s cousins, and our futures. It was such an incredible time of reflection and thankfulness.
After we left the restaurant and realized that a torrential downpour had been brewing in our absence of the outside world, we haggled to get two umbrellas and pranced our way back the hotel room.
Day 2: Success.
Ciao for now!