Today was by far the most beautiful and warm day we’ve had yet! We awoke early and after eating another great breakfast, we jumped on the bus for our ride back into the city. Our first stop was the Coliseum. We had an amazing guide who walked us through the crumbling remains of the travertine structure. I assumed the chunks missing from each column were there because of age, but it turns out the pieces of each column were originally held together by steel, which was looted after the fall of the Roman Empire – hence the reason why the vast majority of chinks in the structure were along the seams of two pieces.
After our tour of the Coliseum, she led us to the ruins of the Roman Forum. We stepped inside the first Catholic Church allowed to be built within the walls of the city; the ruins of the old court; and spaces where people from all walks of life in the Roman Empire gathered to socialize and do business.
When we were finished out tour, Jesus walked us through more of Ancient Rome, including a stop at the Pantheon. I was so happy to finally be able to go inside after missing out the last time I was in Rome! Originally a temple to the Roman gods, it eventually was turned into a Catholic Church, and is the final resting place of the great Renaissance painter, Raphael. Though it was constructed over 2,000 years ago, the dome of the Pantheon is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.
We stopped for lunch, with most of us getting pizza and taking it back to the fountain in the square and listened to a local musician belting out beautiful opera. After lunch we made our way to the Spanish Steps – Piazza di Spagna – that connect the square to Trinità dei Monti, the church above. At this point, we split into smaller groups to enjoy free time in Rome.
Most of the kids went shopping, while Kendra, Jenn and I headed to a local restaurant and enjoyed pasta, bread and cheese at an outdoor table. Our waiter was a friendly, older gentleman who kept us smiling.
We met back up for dinner, and enjoyed yet another Italian meal of pasta and chicken. Our last event of the night was a beautiful bus tour of Rome by night. We stopped at all of the major sights and had the opportunity to spend some time taking pictures at each one.
Tomorrow we fly back to the U.S. – most everyone is glad to be going home, but there is no doubt we’re going to miss our days in Europe! I can’t wait until the next trip!