Dear Steemit friends, Gemma here, let me take you on a journey to the heart of the Roman Empire part 1. The pinnacle of human civilisation. It was once said that the sun would never set on the Roman Empire, that is how expansive this remarkable civilisation was. We, as a modern day society have a lot to thank the ancient Romans for and I am going to share with you my journey to where it all began. There is so much to do in Rome that I have divided this blog into part 1 and 2.
Rome or Roma rather is the capital of Italy and by no surprise the nations most populated. The people of Rome are very proud and have every right to be however, be cautious when calling them Italians though technically they are, they much prefer to be called Romans. Rome is situated in the central western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio, along the shores of the Tiber. It houses the Vatican City which is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome. In fact this peculiar circumstance is the only existing example of a country within a city, for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states, the twin capital.
To find me, look for my Chihuahua's face
Rome, being the capital of Italy has a large international airport. The Leonardo da Vinci International Airport or simply Rome Fiumicino Airport is one of the busiest airports in Europe. It is situated 26 kilometres/16 miles southwest of the city and approximately a 30 minute drive to the city centre. If public transport is more appealing, there is the Leonardo Express which is a direct train service that connects the airport to the city centre and departs every 30 minutes. The international airport offers daily services from the United States, United Kingdom and various destinations across Europe and Asia, connecting Rome to the rest of the world.
Flying into Rome is not the only way to get to the ancient City. As many of my returning readers know, my choice of travel if possible is always cruise liner. The port of Civitavecchia is the port of call you want to see on your itinerary for access to Rome. It is 67 kilometres/41.6 miles north of the city centre and about a 1 hour journey by coach/taxi or car. A more economical option to travel from port to city would be via train, there are 2 or 3 local trains each hour between Rome and Civitavecchia. It is important to allow extra time during rush hour on weekdays to avoid missing the boat, literally. I travelled into the port of Civitavecchia with my family on the world class cruise ship, the carnival vista. The vista was the flag ship of the fleet, a huge luxury floating resort that offers travelling in comfort and style. Carnival is the industry leader in cruise vacations and it is easy to see why. Travelling this way eliminates all the unnecessary stress of finding hotels, lugging baggage around and getting lost in an unfamiliar country. Carnival does all the hard work for you. There are several cruise companies that offer Civitavecchia as a port of call, so you are spoilt for choice.
The beautiful Carnival Vista
Fun photo's on the pier
Where did it all begin, how did this remarkable unshaken city expanse itself into the Empire it once was and how did it lose its global stance. Rome has humble beginnings, it originated as a small village of the Latini in the 9th century BC. It was originally ruled by kings, but the Roman Republic was established in 509 BC. During the 5th century BC, Rome gained regional dominance in Latium, and eventually the entire Italian peninsula by the 3rd century BC.
According to legend, Ancient Rome was founded by the two demi-god brothers, Romulus and Remus, on the 21st April 753 BC. Their mother Rhea Silvia, was a daughter of a former king and was of Greek and Latin nobility conceived by the god Mars. As these twin boys were deemed a threat to the King Amulius, he ordered they be killed. They were lucky enough to be spared this fate when they were abandoned on the bank of the Tiber river later to be adopted by a she-wolf. The image of the twins suckling the she-wolf has been a long standing symbol of the city of Rome and the Roman people. In fact you can see statues, monuments, carvings and paintings depicting a scene where the twins are suckling the she-wolf all over Rome and other iconic locations throughout the former Roman Empire. The legend claims an argument broke out over who would rule the city and Romulus killed Remus and named the city after himself. In another version the argument was over where the city should be located however, ultimately Remus meets the same fate. This story of the founding of Rome is the best known but it is not the only one.
This is the widest known tale of Rome, though, many other legends of the origin of this great empire exist. I suppose when something as magnificent, strong and powerful as the Roman Empire existed and shaped the world we know today. There are bound to be one too many tales spun. Rome is filled with some of the world's most recognisable landmarks including one of the 7 wonders of the world. Besides from the obvious, all you have to do is take a stroll in this city and you will come across some stunning sights. My favourite thing about Rome is that aside from modern day vehicles, everything is almost as it would of been in ancient times. I love history and I am bold enough to say this may very well be my favourite city on the planet. You can walk the cobblestone streets, down narrow winding alleyways and are surrounded by history in every inch. It is not hard to picture what it was like thousands of years ago, there is something so magical about touching walls that were touched by hands so long ago. I believe we can learn so much from the past, the great victories, the unthinkable atrocities, the failures and ultimately the incredible defiant strength of mankind. You do not even need to spend a penny if you don't want to, taking in the city by walking around is something special enough.
Just by having a stroll we came across Marco Minghetti's monument in the Piazza di San Pantaleo. Marco Minghetti was a celebrated Italian economist and prime minister serving in office from the 24th March 1863 to the 28th September 1864.
Marco Minghetti monument in the Piazza di San Pantaleo
The Vatican, the holy capital and the only example of a country within a city. A must-see on any visit to Rome. The Vatican has a very colourful past and I have already written a previous blog specifically on The Vatican city and all relevant information. You can read it here:
Growing up, I fell in love with the Trevi fountain when I saw it in the movie "The Lizzie McGuire Movie". So you can imagine the excitement I felt at the thoughts of finally seeing it in real life. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I mean we all have our favourites things, my favourite colour is pink, my favourite food is spicy Asian noodles and my favourite fountain is the Fontana di Trevi. The Trevi Fountain is a very large fountain in the Trevi district designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi. Though not as big as I was expecting, size isn't everything, it is the attention to detail that wins my heart over. It is classic Baroque style and has features and ornaments to keep you gazing for hours. It certainly deserves its title of most famous fountain in the world. Of course I couldn't leave without joining in on the tradition of turning my back to the fountain, closing my eyes, holding a coin firmly in hand with a wish in my heart, saying that wish out in my head and throwing the coin into the fountain. I will not tell you what I wished for but with the magic of the Trevi, I will tell you, it came true.
I am so happy to finally be here
Making a wish
Even my little brother Scott made a wish
One of Italy's most prolific artists was Gianlorenzo Bernini, who was active artistically from 1622 through to 1680. In addition to breathing life into the impressive marble creations that can be seen in the Borghese Gallery, Bernini sculpted several fountains in the city, the most famous of which is the Four Rivers Fountain in Piazza Navona.
Other Bernini fountains appear across the city, including the Fontana del Tritone in Piazza Barberini and the Fontana della Barcaccia just below the Spanish Steps. If Los Angeles is the city of angels than I would call Rome the city of fountains. I could not think of a better way to spend a lunch break than sitting by one of these fountains and it seems as though the Italians, Romans rather, feel the same way.
Mum and I at the Fontana di Quattro Fiumi
Mum, Scott and I
Basilica in fountain piazza
The next incredible landmark I will take you to is the Pantheon.The Pantheon meaning the temple of Gods is a former Roman temple, today it functions as a church. It was originally commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). The building we see today was completed by the emperor Hadrian and retains Agrippa's original inscription, which has caused confusion over its date of construction as the original Pantheon burned down, so it is not certain when the present one was actually built.
The building itself is dome shaped with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns and is the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. It has to be one of the most well preserved ancient Roman buildings, in large part because it has been in continuous use throughout its history. Dating back to the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a church dedicated to St. Mary.
Inside the Pantheon
The Pantheon from the side view
As I mentioned above, I believe the best way to experience a place is by walking around, talking to the locals and truly allowing yourself to completely immerse yourself in culture. I found myself on many occasions losing track of time and being overwhelmed by history and architecture. Be sure to have lots of camera space and battery power, you are going to need it. My younger brother Scott travels around in his trusty set of wheels, his wheelchair. Rome is filled with cobbled stone streets and many places have steps however, some buildings have added ramps and lifts to accommodate. Of course some of the building are just too old and tampering with them in any way could jeopardise the building's integrity. This however, has never stopped him from getting around. He has literally travelled the globe in his wheelchair and has seen more than most ever will. He is my inspiration and I hope he is to you as well. You are not your disability, you are and can be whatever you set your heart and mind to. So if you do have difficulties walking, I would suggest spending a few more days in Rome and taking your time to explore this ancient city but definitely do not rule it out, Rome should be at the top of your travel list.
Even buildings with no real significance are a marvel of design and engineering. So how could a civilisation so advanced and powerful fall, well like many tales of our history, greed and thirst for power and wealth is usually the undoing. In an exciting Part 2 of this blog I will take you into Santa Maria in Aracoeli, the Spanish steps, the Royal palace, colosseum and the Jewish grotto.
I hope you have enjoyed part 1 of my blog on the capital of the Roman Empire, Roma Italy, thank you for reading and I look forward to sharing part 2 with you, until next time, Ciao, Vegoutt Everybody!
looking out over Rome