When In Rome: A City Of Wonders
Have you ever witnessed something so beautiful it took your breath away? Well, it happened to me on a recent trip to Italy. I remember the exact moment when I walked into the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican and stared up at the hand painted masterpiece created by Michelangelo. In that moment I actually had to remind myself to continue to breathe.
I came to the Vatican with City Wonders Tours on a recent trip to Rome, Italy. During my time inside the Vatican walls, I learned about the incredible history of the Popes that shaped this world, and the stories of the artists that really made the Vatican a must-visit. I was not the only one who just had to get a glimpse, apparently, the Vatican gets over 30,000 visitors a day.
The tour didn’t stop there. A full day of history lessons took us deeper into Ancient Rome. From the Vatican it was straight to St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world and another true masterpiece. The floors are covered in marble and the walls are decorated with priceless sculptures. Did you know that the ceiling is so high it can house the Statue of Liberty? It’s a sacred place, where only the Pope himself is allowed to pray because the burial site of Peter himself is beneath the floors.
I then travelled even further back in time as I stepped inside the Colosseum walls. The massive amphitheater which housed 65,000 Romans took only eight years to build. While most of the building has been lost in time, it was once a grand stadium decorated with life-size statues and marble seats. As a sports journalist, I tried picturing a time when gladiators would fight beasts for large crowds, as this is where my industry technically started.
The tour finished in the Roman Forum. I walked through what was left of the grand palace, past the homes of gods, and I even laid eyes upon what was left of the memorial to Julius Caesar. It was during this part of the tour that the guide mentioned something truly amazing, “Rome is like a lasagna.” Those were his exact words. Instead of tearing down the old, they would just build the new on top, meaning that the majority of ancient Rome is still hidden below the surface. In fact, only 6% of Rome has been excavated. With new homes and buildings on the surface, excavating the area has become a lot harder, but with archaeological advancements, there is hope that more of the past will be uncovered.
As I walked back to my hotel I couldn’t help but imagine what ruins from that ancient world lay beneath me. Was it beautiful sculptures? Was it pieces of the ancient palaces? Was it stunning marble floors from old homes? The truth is, these questions may never be answered, the past may remain the past, but the truth is what does remain on the surface, and it will truly take your breath away.