A Taste of Italy – Post 1: Family First and Some Big Sites in Rome

Our stay in Italy began with – what else? – a meal!

We were met at the airport by relatives in Rome and they brought us to their home.

Even better than the meal was being welcomed so warmly by people we did not know at all, just because we (or my husband, that is) was a relative from America.

After dinner, they dropped us off at the incredible place where we were booked to stay. It was listed on AirBNB as a “livable sculpture” and it really was! The artist who lives here created it on the roof of his building. We were bowled over by its beauty from our first view at night.

and then again in the morning.

John’s cousin, Aurelia, friend Francesca, and Aurelia’s daughter, Claudia, picked us up to show us some essential sights in Rome. First stop was the Coliseum. “Look at that line!” said Francesca. It snaked around the Coliseum without end, it seemed, under dark clouds – and it was starting to drizzle. John and I looked at each other. Uh-oh. But then Francesca led us to a door where, it turned out, she had a friend – and instantly we were in!

The Coliseum is huge, not just the structure itself, but the majestic views,

Up close, you notice building details, straight and true, that have lasted for centuries.

And then there are the huge columns. There weren’t any cranes or heavy equipment back then, just human slaves dragging them up and into place.

The Coliseum is an icon for Italians. They have a sense of pride and awe at what their ancestors accomplished.

However the awe is tempered with repulsion at the thought of crowds cheering as animals ripped human beings apart. The floor of the Coliseum is no longer there. This labyrinth, now exposed, shows the tunnels through which captives and animals were herded before being pushed out into the arena.

Lightening up the revulsion at that thought, it was back to the present. Smile, Claudia!

The light through the dome above makes for a dramatic entrance to the Pantheon, our next stop.

The Pantheon has the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. The original building was a pagan temple dating from 31 B.C. It burned and was rebuilt twice. It now reflects its Catholic makeover.

Like the Coliseum, the Pantheon inspires awe, though in a different way.