It's fascinating seeing the levels of history literally unfolding beneath me in Rome. Ten feet down, it’s the middle ages. Thirty feet down, it’s ancient Rome. The Forum has great examples of this stratified history.
View from the Spanish Steps
The Forum - layer upon layer of rich Roman history
Humbler digs in Rome. I can't afford penthouse suites in every city (Venice was spectacular, though). Nice pensione with antiques and quirky design. Great location between Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps.
Trajan's Column, between two "minor" churches.
Europe's first shopping mall, circa 100 AD. - Trajan's Market in Rome.
Window shopping in Rome
More window shopping in Rome
Fountain of Neptune, Piazza Navona
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My favorite unexpected surprise in Rome - Palazzo Doria Pamphilj - a private art collection housed in a 1000-room palace in Central Rome. The collection was mostly accumulated by Pope Innocent X's nephew in the 1600's. Camilo was a man after my own heart, being particular to the Breughels and Caravaggio.
The Pamphilj family is one of the few old Roman families who have kept their fortunes and art collection intact. They currently own huge chunks of Central Rome, and are headed by Prince Jonathan Pamphilj, who has shaken up the conservative Roman establishment by raising a family with his civil partner; gay marriage has not been legalized in Italy.
Jonathan narrates much of the audio guide for the museum. He is witty, urbane and utterly charming. There is a great profile of him, detailing family scandals old and new, in a recent Vanity Fair
Prince Jonathan Pamphilj (right), with civil partner Filippo, and children Emily and Elson
The most famous painting in the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, of family ancestor Pope Innocent X, by Diego Velazquez. When the pope saw the painting he cried, "It's too real!" Yes it was, and painting would never be the same again.
St. John the Baptist, by Caravaggio
Rest on the Flight into Egypt, by Caravaggio
Penitent Magdalene, by Caravaggio
View of the Bay of Naples, by Pieter Brueghel
Garden of Eden, by Jan Brueghel the Elder
Allegory of Air, by Jan Brueghel the Elder
The Romans sure love their relics. "Oh, here's some random saint we keep in our private chapel." I especially like how the Venetians went to Alexandria Egypt to steal the body of St. Mark because he was "their" saint.
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Regardless of how one feels about Roman Catholicism, no visit to Rome is truly complete without seeing Vatican City. I wanted most to see Michelangelo's painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but on this relatively short visit to Rome, I was unwilling to spend a long wait only to be rushed through the chapel.
The wait getting into St. Peter's Basilica was much shorter and I could take all the time I wanted. Perhaps the pinnacle of Roman Catholic architecture, it is an astounding experience.
St. Peter's Basilica and the River Tiber
Approaching St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
Entering St. Peter's Basilica
Dome of St. Peter's Basilica
Altar of St. Peter's Basilica, topped by Bernini's Baldachin.
Lone supplicant at small chapel in massive St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
Service at St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica - Rising to heaven
Swiss Guard - de facto military of Vatican City
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Every once in a while in my travels, I capture a first glimpse of something that sends a frisson of excitement through my body. In Rome it was the Colosseum, first seen on my way from the Forum.
My first glimpse of the Colosseum. One of life's special moments.
Approaching the Colosseum
Exterior of the Colosseum
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