What can I say about Rome but WOW... You take a look in every direction and there is a monumental building, ancient treasure, or beautiful landscape. It was by far my favorite city on the entire trip. In London and around europe, there is always a big deal made about the "Roman Wall". Despite the obvious fact that all walls in Rome are "Roman Walls", there are literally hundreds of buildings and structures that date back 2000 years. The city has been built in layers with the street level gradually rising over time, leaving ancient ruins underneath all modern buildings.
Once again, we took a private tour of Rome so we could see as much as we could in the limited time we had. We started off the day by heading to the Coliseum. Dating back to 74 AD, the Coliseum is one of the biggest, oldest structures in the world. Mostly intact, the grandeur of the arena was breathtaking. One of the sides is very well preserved, with over 4 levels and supports for seating and passageways. We were able to go inside and walk the levels, as well as traverse the perimeter. While walking around the area of the Coliseum, we saw Caesar's Palace (the real one) as well as the ancient aqueduct system, an ancient temple, and the famous Circus Maximus (where they did Chariot races). All of this was within the same square mile.... amazing!
Next, we headed out to see Trevi Fountain and that part of town. Trevi Fountain was packed with tourists, but we were able to throw in our coin the traditional way (right hand over the left shoulder) and snap a few photos of the incredible fountain built into the entire side-wall of a building. Next we walked around the more modern district of town, heading to the Spanish-Steps, through many famous plazas, including one that was built directly on top of a smaller-than-coliseum sized stadium. Also in this part of town was the incredible Pantheon. The Pantheon is so big that pictures don't do it any justice at all. You walk past the towering columns into the building and above you is a small hole in the center of the roof that is pouring in light like water from a faucet. The sculpted marble and detailed tombs line the circle interior, and the inlaid marble and stone throughout the floor allows for a beautiful view from anywhere in the Pantheon. The (copied) one in Paris is bigger, but the Roman one is much, much better.
After the Pantheon and the center of town, we headed to the Vatican. The vatican itself is so huge that it would take days to look at everything, but we only had about 2 hours. We rushed through the countless statues and artifacts stolen from around all of Europe by the church. It was an impressive collection, though it makes me sick to think of the tyranny of the Church over the past 2 millennia.