I wanted to share with you my notes about my recent trip to Rome! Hope you are well, and I look forward to hearing from you and helping out with your next incredible vacation!
The Eternal City…
I have been told that Rome is called the Eternal City because it has been there for so long. I have another theory: It takes an eternity to experience all of the history, the art, and the food. Bring your most comfortable shoes, bring SEVERAL extra camera batteries, bring a cell phone with GPS, internet service (so you can look up “what the heck is that?!”) and Google maps (an iPhone is my personal choice). If you have a camera with GPS in it, that will help.
Along with my favorite traveling companion (my wife), we braved 31 hours of airplanes and airports to experience the biggest time change possible (12 hours difference from Hawaii). Our home away from home was the lovely, 4 star, and boutique style Rose Garden Palace Hotel. Located a block or two from Villa Borghese and in the corner of what is considered central Rome, the Rose Garden Palace Hotel features comfortable rooms with high ceilings, parquet hardwood floors, marble bathrooms with VERY deep tubs, an eclectic blend of antique and modern style furniture, flat screen TV’s with satellite service, rich burl wood walk-in closets, all staffed by a friendly staff whose professionalism is exceeded only by their charm. The common areas of the resort include a lobby bar replete with polished marble, a fully equipped gym (for those of you that need more exercise than walking MILES AND MILES every day), sauna and a relaxing grotto with a ~20’ X 20’ “whirlpool” (sitting depth, regular pool temperature, tile bench running along all sides). Spa services are offered. The restaurant serves a complimentary continental breakfast (which includes hot items), as well as lunch and dinner. This resort is used by Perillo Tours (our host for this trip) and would be comparable to the Hyatt Regencies that are featured in Perillo’s Hawaii tours. Dinners are elegant and feature creative dishes served by attentive staff fully versed in knowing the best wine pairings for their dishes.
No matter what tour you take, with all my heart, I implore you to extend your stay in Rome. There is just too much to see: In the time of Jesus, Rome was a thriving metropolis. Around the time the Pilgrims were arriving on the shores of America, Bernini was busy sculpting grand fountains including the famous Trevi. A hundred years before that, Michelangelo was doing this little paint job for Pope Julius II, perhaps you have heard of it: The Sistine Chapel.
Our second day was comprised of 2 of Perillo’s half-day tours. First was the Coliseum, the world’s first Superdome. Built in the first century, it stands as a skeleton of its original glory, stripped of the white marble skin the adorned most of its surfaces. Here the first rock stars performed: Gladiators. Performing their blood-art on a wooden stage covered with sand and constructed over hidden galleries, they performed for the Caesars, but the adoration of the masses was perhaps their real motivation. Inside the three levels of ancient archways are the venerable causeways where thousands flocked to watch the grandest spectacle of their time. While most of it is in ruins, part of the theater has a reconstructed wooden stage and a few of the bleachers are being recovered in the alabaster hued marble that made this structure worthy of being the centerpiece of the throne of the known universe.
Do yourself a favor and climb the (dangerously steep) steps to the second level. Here you will find a nice souvenir shop and many cases of gladiatorial armor (mostly recreations, but several real pieces as well).
Next is the half-day tour of the Vatican. To say that a half-day tour is too brief is the grandest exaggeration I could conjure. In 2006, the Vatican Museums celebrated their 500th year. With the purchase of a sculpture of Laocoön (the priest who inspired “beware Greeks bearing gifts”), Pope Julius II began a habit that 500 years of Popes continued: art collection.
Comprising of 54 GALLERIES of art, you will find not only masterpieces of Raphael and Michelangelo, but also so many unnamed artists as to boggle the mind with the shear mass of the creations. Exiting the museums, you are lead to St. Peter’s Basilica, the grandest monument to Catholicism ever imagined. Dwarfing all churches, St. Peter’s even has markers in the main hall showing how some of the world’s most famous churches elsewhere would fit cleanly inside. Besides the grand altar build over the (even grander) tomb of St Peter, the many chapels are wall to wall with Papal tombs, running from the modest plain white marble for Pope John Paul II to the ginormous and extravagant red and white marble, Bernini designed tomb of Pope Alexander VII. And the Pièce de résistance: Michelangelo’s Pieta. I could have stood and stared for hours at this one piece.
I cannot blame Perillo tours for the shortness of the Vatican visit. They arranged to get us to the head of the lines, showed us the most important pieces and enough history to whet our appetite for more. As their tour includes days “on your own”, they can also arrange to set you up with more detailed experiences for everything that Rome can offer. They even offer “extended stay packages”. Please take advantage of your time in Rome.
The rest of our days in Rome were spent following particular artists (Bernini may be my new favorite), exploring countless churches’ art collections, wandering the ancient Forum and Palantine (trust me, take 2 days and bring a lunch), and counting our blessings for being able to take the tiniest peek at Rome, for which the title “Eternal City” seems just a bit understated.