St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica

When Pete, Linda, and I arrived in Rome by train as tourists for three nights, the first thing we did was purchase the three-day Roma Pass for 34 euro from the counter at the station. It’s similar to the Firenze Card. For the money it’s a good deal because you get admission, or discounted admission, to museums and other visitor attractions, avoid queues, and can use the card for public transportation. It comes with a city map and handy phone numbers and internet links.

To see the Sistine Chapel (no photos allowed) and the Vatican Museums in the separate country of the Vatican City, our hotel concierge booked a guided tour for us with LH Tours; we took the Metro to meet Lucilla Paola Favino, M.A. Ph.D., our guide who is an archaeologist. Also well worth the money to skip the lines and have an informative and amusing interpretation of what you are seeing.

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter’s Square

Recessional at St. Peter's Basilica

Recessional at St. Peter’s Basilica

There is so much in Rome. With limited time, we had to be selective for our first visit. The Roma Pass got us into:

• Colloseo/Palatino to see the Anfiteatro Flavio, or Colloseum, “the largest arena of the ancient world used by the Romans for gladiatorial combats, and other spectacles until the 6th century” (quotes from the Roma Pass Guide); the Foro Romano, the forum that “served as the centre of public life in Rome for over a thousand years,” and the site and extensive grounds of an ancient Flavian palace.

My friend Linda, at right, Pete, and me in the Colloseum.

My friend Linda, at right, Pete, and me in the Colloseum.

Beneath the floor of the Colloseo was the backstage area for the animals and the players. For perspective, note the visitors in the lower right of the photo.

Beneath the floor of the Colloseo was the backstage area for the animals and the players. For perspective, note the visitors in the lower right of the photo.

The Farnese Gardens on the grounds of the Palatino (palace) near the Colloseo

The Farnese Gardens on the grounds of the Palatino (palace) near the Colloseo

• Museo Nazionale Romano, an archaeological museum with sculpture, frescoes, and mosaics — much of it showing how the Romans loved Greek art and were inspired to copy it.

Detail of The Boxer sculpture in the Museum Nazionale Romano

Detail of The Boxer sculpture in the Museo Nazionale Romano

Peplophoros (a sculpture). She is wearing a peplos of thin, clinging fabric carved in the manner of Ionic garments. In the Museo Nazionale Romano.

Peplophoros (a sculpture). She is wearing a peplos of thin, clinging fabric carved in the manner of Ionic garments. In the Museo Nazionale Romano.

The Italian mosaics fascinate me. The tiles are about 1/8-inch square. This one is of a cat and a bird (top half) and of two ducks (bottom half). The mosaics covered the floors, while frescoes decorated the walls.

The Italian mosaics fascinate me. The tiles are about 1/8-inch square. This one is of a cat and a bird (top half) and of two ducks (bottom half). The mosaics covered the floors, while frescoes decorated the walls.

Left corner detail carving of a battle on the sarcophagus of Portonaccio, depicting victory over barbarians

Left corner detail carving of a battle on the sarcophagus of Portonaccio, depicting victory over barbarians

il Bacio copy

Il Bacio, the kiss, a modern bronze sculpture by Fanor Hernandez in the courtyard of Museo Nazionale Romano

• The opera “La Traviata” by I Virtuosi dell’opera di Roma performed at Teatro Salone Margherita (with a discount).

We sat in the middle of the fourth row in this small-sized theater for "La Traviata."

We sat in the middle of the fourth row in this small-sized theater for “La Traviata.”

Pretty red velvet seats of the opera house

Pretty red velvet seats of the opera house

• The underground Metro transportation system (wave the card over the yellow pad at the turnstile and go).

We entered the 20-centuries-old Pantheon – Basilica Santa Maria Ad Martyres, the inspiration for St. Peter’s Basilica, for free; it is a church.

Pantheon, front view. Note the diameter of the columns.

Pantheon, front view. Originally a temple to all the gods, it has been in continuous use since its construction. Note the diameter of the columns.

Side view of the Pantheon exterior. You can see the round shape behind the columns.

Side view of the Pantheon exterior. You can see the round shape behind the columns.

Detail, Pantheon exterior

Detail, Pantheon exterior

Interior of the Pantheon

Interior of the Pantheon

The floor of the Pantheon

The floor of the Pantheon. Eighty per cent of the floor of polished stone is original from 1,800 years ago.

The dome of the Pantheon, with round window at the top letting in sunlight, and original rectangular windows at lower left of photo.

The dome of the Pantheon, with round window at the top letting in sunlight, and original rectangular windows at lower left of photo.

We booked a suite at Hotel Nazionale for three of us, next door to The Parliament, and we felt very secure. A high-class establishment Giolitti was down the block with pastries, candies, gelato, and fancy coffee drinks.

Italian sweets from Giolitti

Italian sweets from Giolitti

My lunch

My lunch

Rebekah and Linda on the Spanish Steps on an uncommonly uncrowded morning, we're told.

Rebekah and Linda on the Spanish Steps on an uncommonly uncrowded morning, we’re told.

Trevi Fountain at night

Trevi Fountain at night

 

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