“When in Rome…”

“Toey as a Roman sandle.”

“All roads lead to Rome.”

“Rome sweet Rome…”

There are plenty of other sayings that have come from or are about Rome, and with good reason. The Romans ran one of the most powerful governments in history, called the Roman Republic, from 510 BC until 23 BC. That’s nearly 500 years of domination. In comparison, the United States of America was born in 1776, making it only 234 years buy ativan online legally old.

The Romans changed everything. They’re responsible for the way we communicate today. Romans spoke in Latin and most words in English are derivatives of that.

Here’s another fact for you. Julius Caesar attacked and conquered Rome in 49 BC and became Rome’s dictator. Although he was infamously murdered in the senate, his fame and respect lived on, with the month of July being named after him. In fact, Julius Caesar created the calendar. He based it on the movement of the Earth around the sun. Caesar also made the Colosseum famous by hosting live man-on-man and man-on-beast Gladiator battles. The Romans created straight roads, aquaducts, central heating and concrete. Do I really have to go on, or are you starting to get why I just had to visit the place?

Here’s how Lorna and I did it.

We stayed in a private apartment with Lorna’s parents for a week in Bologna, a suburb three metro-stops away from the Colosseum. I thought Rome would be a large place, but I had no idea just how vast it really was. Although we have skyscrapers in our capital cities back home in Australia and Europe does not, and Sydney and Melbourne are large cities, they pale in comparison to Rome. It’s hard to figure out where Rome starts and ends, because basically, it just goes on and on. With this in mind, it’s good to have some sort of plan with a few specific sites to visit, before bumbling around and getting lost and wasting your time.

As with nearly every city Lorna and I have visited, the first day was spent travelling to the apartment, finding it, and having a few beers, a nice dinner and resting up.

The smartest thing we did was start day-two with a tour-bus ride around the city. Because Rome is so huge, there’s no way you can see it all in one day by foot. It’s a good idea to take a two-hour bus ride around the place and then decide where you want to go back-to later.

For the second-half of the day we visited the Colosseum. The Colosseum was completed in 80 A.D., can hold 50000 people and hosted live gladiator battles, as depicted in the movie with Russell Crowe. It’s hard to describe in words how awesome the place looks when you see it with your own eyes. To think of the thousands of men who lost their lives there, with 50000 people watching and cheering them on, is just unbelievable. Imagine being the last-guy-standing at the end of a day of gladiator battles. There’s no doubt that you’d feel the intense-excitement that a footballer would feel after they’d just kicked the winning-goal in an AFL Grand Final, or what a musician feels as they play on the main-stage of the Big Day Out Festival.

After that we did a bit of shopping and had some dinner. Prices for shoes, clothes, pasta, beer and coffee are mostly relative to back-home, but can also be a lot more expensive. Some places are an absolute rip-off and some are reasonable. In Italy, in general, I would always advise you to look at what other people are eating, check the prices on the menu, and also check the “service-charge” cost. Italy is one of the only places on Earth where a restaurant has the audacity to charge you a $4 – $8 “service charge” just for the bloody privilege of enjoying their company.

On day-three we got up early and planned on visiting St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and Trivi Fountain.

St Peter’s Basilica is an amazing site to behold, architecturally. You can walk around and take in the awesome architecture for free. Apparently, it is where St Peter, one of Jesus’s twelve apostles, is buried. It is the largest church in the world, capable of hosting 60000 people.

If you want to get into the Sistine Chapel, you’d better find yourself a good tour guide. Be careful though, there are some dodgy ones out there who promise a lot, but don’t deliver. The company we used was called Livitaly, but it took us a while to find them. We started out with another guy who talked us into being our guide on the street. He promised he could help us skip the three-hour-wait in-line for the Sistine Chapel, but ended up making us line up anyway while giving us a false-hope that, at any moment, we might be able to skip it. After five minutes of waiting we decided to bail on him and Lorna’s dad found this awesome girl who worked for Livitaly. She did manage to skip the three-hour line, but we still had to line-up in the tour-guide line. Luckily this was only for about twenty minutes.

Before we walked into the Sistine Chapel, our tour guide told us to look up at a blue painting of the Holy Mary. She told us, that John Paul II was hit by a bullet fired at him by an assassin in 1981 in St. Peter’s Square. One of the bullets narrowly missed the main artery closest to his heart. He lived through the attack and later placed the bullet as a red-ruby centerpiece in her crown that you can still see today.

Before you get into the actual Chapel, the amount of paintings, sculptures and various other forms of artwork that decorate the golden hallway are enough to amaze you on their own.

But as soon as you enter the actual Sistine Chapel, guards order you to be quiet and demand you put your camera away. Apparently the noise can cause rumblings through the building and some of the paint may flake off. Being a loud music-creator myself, this made sense to me. Loud noise does actually cause things to move.

As with witnessing Leonardo di Vinci’s Last Supper in Milan, Michelangelo’s painting of the Book of Genesis on the ceiling and his painting on the end-wall of The Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel was truly an amazing experience. Even if you’re not that religious. Take me for example…

I’m not someone who’s big on the whole “bible” story. I think a lot of religious belief that has been passed on from generation to generation has definitely happened, but I also think a lot of it has been blown out of proportion. I do believe Jesus walked the Earth two-thousand-odd years ago and people looked up to him, but not necessarily that he had magical powers or was the direct descendant of god. He was probably just an awesome guy who had a lot of good opinions of what to do with your life on Earth and how you should live it. Anyway, let’s not get too religious at this point. (Whoops, too late.) I do believe there is a god and/or a higher-power looking over us, affecting our lives and testing us with destiny-path choices, and I do believe we all have a reason that we’re here, but… I’ll calm down now and keep all that stuff for the Silverbirch novels.

Whether you believe in the bible stories or religiously attend church or think it’s all bullshit, when you take a look with your own eyes at Michelangelo’s fresco paintings in the Sistine Chapel, there’s no doubting they’re incredible and tell an amazing story. Considering that it took him four and a half years to paint the ceiling and five years to paint the end-wall, all while bending over backwards, day after day… you have to absolutely respect both the artwork and the man.

Later on that night Lorna and I visited Trivi Fountain. It’s not an absolute must-see, but it was nice to grab a bite to eat and have a geez at it.

And that’s only some of what Rome has to offer. There’s a lot going on in modern Rome and, of course, there’s a lot of powerful history there. You’ve really got to take a look for yourself.

Knowing that Rome has existed for about 2800 years, just being there will open your character and shine a new light on the way you think about the world. You won’t regret it.

Rob Kaay is an Australian author & musician.

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