There aren't enough superlatives to encapsulate Rome. The facts are more impressive but fall short. Capital of the most durable land empire in human history and the ancestor of western civilization? True but an incomplete description--Rome is no mere museum and fragments of brick and...more
Saint Peter's Square is the Pope's outdoor audience chamber. The round plaza, surrounded by arcades, is generally full at all times with the faithful and the curious. When the pope is giving an audience or a new pope is about to be declared, it's packed. A fun fact is that the square...more
I saw Pope Benedict give an audience on a Wednesday in 2005, a few months after his election. He was white dot very far away and I don't speak Italian but it was still thrilling to see a world leader in his seat of power.
This pedestrian bridge over the Tiber has a fine view of the neighboring Vatican as well as much of the rest of the city. Unlike London and Paris, which navigable rivers, very little actually goes down the Tiber but the bridge is nice.
I saw Pope Benedict give a Sunday Blessing in 2005 a few months after he became Pope. It was amazing to feel the energy and devotion of the crown in St. Peter's Square and though the Pope was a tiny dot hundreds of yards away, it was pretty neat that he was there speaking to the crowd....more
A walk through the Roman forum is two feeling simultaneously. First there's the sense of awe at being in the epicenter of ancient Roman culture. Here was held Caesar's funeral and here the Romans chased out their last king. At the same time there's a sadness in that much of the forum is...more
Trajan's Column is not just a monument towering over the streets around the Piazza Venezia, it's also a historic source. Trajan's exploits--his victories in the Dacian Wars and his conquests in Mesopotamia--are told in the reliefs along the column. Much of what is known about the...more
The Palatine, overlooking the forum, was the home of the Imperial Palace and the seat of government power for centuries. Guided tours can point out the significance of each courtyard and ruin. It's also probably the best place to get a good vantage point on the ancient city....more
Located on the Appian Way, one of the oldest roads in the world, and accessed through the floor of a church, the Catacombs of San Sebastian are a glimpse of Christianity's earliest days when thousands were martyred in Rome. You have to go with a tour guide who will explain how the crypts were built...more