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Roma, Sumus Amor

Rome Travel Blog

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Pantheon
This was a last full day in Europe and we had it to ourselves. We could have chosen to take an all day excursion to Pompeii for $100 but I thought it would be fun to have the day on our own. Given how incredibly hot it was yesterday, I was a little worried about how much ground we could cover. Thankfully, there was cloud cover most of the morning and everything we did was bearable. So, while the rest of the group got on the bus to Pompeii, we went our own way.

We left the hotel a little before 8 and bought an all-day transit pass (4 Euro – a good deal!) and headed for St. Peter’s to walk to the top of the dome. There were no lines and the climb to the top was challenging but well worth doing. Compared to climbing to the top of Giotto’s bell tower in Florence, this was a piece of cake.
View from St. Peter's


The views from the top of the dome are breathtaking. You get a true bird’s eye view Vatican City (the Pope was NOT out jogging this morning) and the rest of Rome. It was a humid morning so much of what were saw down below was veiled in a light haze.

After the dome, I took the group to the Capuchin bone crypt near the Barbarini metro stop. Finally, I lead my group to the Pantheon, which happens to be one of my favorite buildings of any I have seen in the world. If you come to Rome and don’t step into the Pantheon, you are missing one of the great monuments in the world.

Somewhere is our wandering, we encounted the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. By noon we were back at the hotel for a lunch nearby and for R&R.
Trevi Fountain
A few ventured out again later in the afternoon but I didn’t. Among other things, I napped, packed, found a grocery store with TJ helping me, and generally tried to recharge for our last evening in Rome.

We ate supper at the hotel and afterwards,  by tradition, I took the group to the Spanish Steps. I had bought a couple bottles of sparkling Lambrusca and a led two toasts. Here’s an expanded version of what I said:

I first toasted the cities that we had traveled to and our return to them: London, Paris, Lucerne, Venice, Florence and Rome. Most of these are truly the greatest cities in the world and we were lucky enough to have a chance to sample their offerings.

I then toasted the group. Earlier in the day I had a bit of an epiphany that for many comes much earlier in their travels than it did for me.
Roman Metro
As I sat in my room packing and thinking I was wondering what the draw of living shoulder to shoulder for two weeks with a group of people is. Additionally, the places we go are most often crowed, hot, and sometimes smelly. (Try a jam packed, un-air-conditioned, Roman metro train in the middle of a 100 degree day for a definition of smelly!).

Anyway, I am a person who gets up well before dawn because peace and quiet is guaranteed. And I am a person who likes sailing in a place where I can go for a couple of days without seeing people. So why do I put myself in the midst of all of these crowds?

The answer came to me: Travel is certainly a sensual experience. I travel because of what I can see, touch, hear, taste and even smell. I will never get over rounding the corner at the Academia in Florence and seeing Michelangelo’s David standing so magnificently at the end of the room; I will never stop being thrilled by touching a block of the Notre Dame in Paris and feeling like I had somehow just touched the hand of the stone mason who carved it; I will always enjoy the sound of an accordionist roving by the sidewalk restaurant I have chosen to eat at; I will most certainly never tire of the taste of lemon gelato.
Our Friend, Luca
Finally, I will always find the smell of a chocolate/banana crepe freshly prepared or even the musty earthy smell of the Euclide train stop in Rome to be  powerful experiences.

So part of traveling is sensual. But I concluded all of this would have much less meaning to me if I were experiencing it alone. Thus, the revelation for me was that travel is as much about the people you are traveling with as it is about the sensory experiences you have along the way. In my case I have traveled to Europe with somewhere around 100 students, I have traveled with my good friend Scott P. and, of course, I have covered a lot of ground with my wonderful wife Deb. These people are what make travel special to me. No amount of lemon gelato could make up for their absences if I chose to go it alone!

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Pantheon
Pantheon
View from St. Peters
View from St. Peter's
Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain
Roman Metro
Roman Metro
Our Friend, Luca
Our Friend, Luca
Bruschetta
Bruschetta
Rome
photo by: vulindlela