A Roman Holiday

I wasn’t actually in rome for Christmas, just until December 23rd. It sure felt festive though:

It was a great time to visit; festive and cheery, lacking in tourists and good weather. It might have been geography, or just luck but compared to chilly Venice and Florence, Rome was downright pleasant. At times it seemed less like the dead of winter and more like a crisp fall day:

One of the most exciting things about visiting Rome is all of the iconic sights scattered about the city. The Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain. Most of them are just as grand, if not MORE impressive in person:

Roman Holiday happens to be one of my favorite movies (Sigh… Gregory Peck) and as I wandered around the city I imagined I too was an escaped princess who looked like Audrey Hepburn. My companions had not seen the movie but, I still dragged them to the out of the way Bocca della Verita, the “Mouth of Truth” made famous by this scene (sorry about the Italian). The thing is actually just a pretty water drain, but I couldn’t resist…

Luckily, it let me keep my hand.

Iconic in an entirely different way is Vatican City; the tiny enclave that is the home of the pope and Roman Catholicism. There were preparing for Christmas as well:

I’m a but if a lapsed Catholic, and most of my knowledge of the vatican actually comes from Art History 102, not Sunday school. But Saint Peter’s Basilia is an awe inspiring piece of Renaissance architecture and excess, no matter what your background.

Saint Peter’s is the largest Christian Church in the entire world- it can hold up to 60,000 people.  The dome which towers over the church is the tallest dome in the world. The wealth of detail is just dizzying.

The Vatican museums are also impressive; they showcase just some of the massive amounts of treasures compiled by the church over the years- mainly sculpture and painting. They rival only the British Museum in their collection of re-appropriated cultural relics. Yes, this is where you will find the Sistine Chapel (smaller than you’d imagine), but I was more impressed by the sheer volume of stuff hoarded here.

Returning from the Holy See you will pass over the Ponte Sant’Angelo below, adorned with beautiful sculptures crafted by Bernini. Truthfully, Rome itself is really one large scale, living museum. You can’t go a block without stumbling over a beautiful fountain, church or sculpture.

I haven’t even mentioned the classical ruins which adorn modern Rome (more on this next week). This intertwinement between modern life, art, culture and history is what made Rome so special for me.

14 thoughts on “A Roman Holiday”

  1. I lived in Rome for five months last August-January and I agree, it was nicest in the very dead of winter. When I got there in August it was so humid and hot that it was uncomfortable, as I am used to drier heat being that I am from southern California. It did get cold, but everyone is already bundled up since Italians tend to dress according to season, regardless of the actual weather. It’s completely bearable. I went to Venice for Christmas and it was snowing like crazy and freezing. But the last day I was in Rome it snowed, which is fairly rare for how far south it is, it was really great. Only thing that is better about northern Italy in the winter is that they have vin brulè (hot wine) at their Christmas markets, but it’s too hot in Rome for it….I love that stuff.

  2. Great collection of photos Steph! We were in Rome many years ago, and had to RUN through the streets to try and see as much as we could (only 1/2 day!) All I remember from it is actually losing my breath when I saw the Colloseum for the first time. Must! Return!!

  3. Hi, new to your site and I love it already. This got me so excited about Rome! I’ll be there just after New Years (after going to London and Paris) and I can’t wait!!

  4. I have always wanted to go to Rome for my hols. I have been to paris for a break and found it strange but beautiful, so I went again the next year and enjoyed it much more the second time. I don’t know if I’m the only one enjoys holidays the second time strange but true. Those pictures have made me want to visit Rome even more now!!

  5. Great photos of Rome, brings back good memory. It was too bad I was there only for a few hours, we only had time to see Vatican, Pantheon, and Trevi. And unfortunately Sistine Chapel was closed too 🙁 I really need to go back there!

  6. Really nice. I’ve never had much interest in Italy (even though I speak some Italian), but you might have just changed my mind. I’m a sucker for living history – to me there is nothing more awesome then things frozen in time. Looks like Rome fits the bill. 🙂

  7. Fantastic photos, Steph! I was in Rome a few years back in November, and also had some beautiful weather. I love how the modern and ancient are side-by-side all across the city.

    I love your photos of St. Peter’s. It’s hands-down my favorite place I’ve seen in Rome (well, okay, technically the Vatican, but still). Did you climb up to the top of the dome?

      1. The dome climb was great! I wussed out and took the elevator for the first part. Way more walking than I was used to.

        I took 3 Roman architecture classes at Emory, so it was surreal to see all of the buildings and sculptures I read about.

        Missed out on the nice weather-I have the luck of bringing heat waves or cold snaps with me. So it was 90 in Rome when we had packed for 75. Woops.

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