Day 7: July 8, 2010
Yup that's right - it's my birthday! How lucky am I that I get to celebrate my 35th birthday in a city like Rome - SPOILED ROTTEN!
We had to make a tough call today. We had reservations to celebrate my birthday at the fabulous Borghese Gallery (home of Bernini's "David" and "Apollo Chasing Daphne", as well as paintings by Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio and Rubins) but we were unable to complete ancient Rome yesterday. I know that I would have loved the Borghese Gallery but to the rest of our crew it may have been just "more paintings and statues". So I took one for the team and we finished ancient Rome, which by the way DID NOT DISAPPOINT! Actually, I would have won either way! ;)
So it was back to Piazza Cavour, then we walked through my favorite neighborhood (Piazza Navona) to the Pantheon. We stopped at a cute little deli called Antica Salumeria where we picked up our lunch. We ate our "pic-nic" on the steps of the Pantheon and enjoyed some people watching.
Antica Salumeria Deli
OK, It may make me sound a little dumb, it might even be common knowledge, but I had no idea that the Pantheon is used as a church. I simply thought it was a temple converted into a museum. Nope. Let me clear up the misconception I had... it's the ONLY ancient building in Rome that has been continuously used since it's construction! Raphael and Italy's first two kings are buried there in tombs. The portico is amazing and there is a giant hole in the dome that lets in light (rain too)! Mass is still celebrated there daily and the occasional wedding, could you imagine saying you were married in the Pantheon?!
The Tomb of Italy's first king
The Pillar of Light
Paul, Jann & Gavin in the Pantheon
Fountain outside the Pantheon
Next we hopped on bus #87 back to the Colosseum where we headed to the great Roman Forum... again I stand amazed. Thank goodness for the archeologists who unearthed all this history, it's unbelievable! I kept saying "I wish my Dad were here - my Dad the history buff would LOVE this! Someday he has to make this trip!!" (Do you hear me Dad? Rome is a MUST for your "bucket list"!) We walked the whole grounds and listened to the Rick Steves' audio guide (which I would recommend) it really put everything in perspective. Everything that was important in ancient Rome happened HERE!
The 3 arches of the "courthouse" are massive, and just think only 1/4 of it still stands today. We saw the steps where Caesar was killed as well as the memorial that people still adorn with flowers today. We admired the Arch of Titus and the pools where the Vestal Virgins lived and kept the fires of Rome aglow.
Steps where Cesar was killed
Cesar's tomb and memorial
The boys in the heart of the Forum
Arch of Titus
Arch of Titus
We also hiked to the top of Palatine Hill where the Imperial Palace once stood. We saw the Circus Maximus and walked through the gardens on the original cobblestone paths. There really is nothing like walking through ancient Rome to make a gal feel VERY young on her 35th birthday (LAUGH!).
Palatine Hill view of the Colosseum
Tanner on Palatine Hill
Overlook from Palatine Hill to the Roman Forum
Archeological dig site on Palatine Hills
What a day, we decided to have my birthday dinner back in my favorite part of town. BUT since it was my birthday, I voted for gelato first (as it should be!) The gelato shop was amazing - every flavor you could imagine! Tanner of course had chocolate, Paul had mint chip and I had mint chip and caramel & cream. YUM-YUM!
We walked around Piazza Navona for a while window shopping until we spotted it. DINNER! Paul had roasted chicken and potatoes. Tanner had "noodles" and I had Penne with roasted red peppers, tomatoes and garlic... spicy & delicious!
I hated that we had to go back to Naples tomorrow... I would have loved to stay in Rome for the rest of our vacation. It was a birthday that beat all the rest!