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I couldn’t tear my eyes away from him as he stood just across the street. He was so beautiful that it scared me. His skin was tanned to perfection by the Italian sun and his eyes revealed that he had an old soul. Just by the way he stood I could see that he was knowledgeable and unique but I was too intimidated to walk up to him. He reminds me of Beauty and the Beast in the sense that he was very masculine, but oozed an unexplanable elegance.
He was famous all around the world and even though I had known who he was, I have never been anywhere near him until now. I walked up to him slowly, completely aware of the fact that he has lived such a fascinating life and had immensely interesting stories to share. Ladies and gentleman, I give you the Colosseum. Now, I was with my parents, so I couldn’t just go up and start talking to him, but we did manage to get a professional tour guide to tell us all about him.
Officially named the “Flavian Amphitheater”, the grand structure was built between 72 and 80 A.D. The Colosseum could fit up to 60,000 people and was the site of Roman pride until the late 400’s and early 500’s, when a set of earthquakes caused great damage to the structure. In its lifetime, it has been used as a war zone for gladiators, a cemetery, and a fortress. By the 1340’s, the pope’s decided to strip the Colosseum of the marble that it was once made up of and reused it for the construction period during the Renassiance (and you thought the barbarians did it, didn’t you?)
And that is about all I remember from the 4 hour tour that we had. I tried, I really did, but the heat was so intense that it felt like the sun was digging its razor sharp rays into my skin. It’s difficult to concentrate on a history lesson when you’re crawling through the ruins of Rome with 15 empty water bottles in your back pack. Tip for the wise: Whatever you do, don’t wear jeans! Don’t even pack them. After walking around inside the Colosseum, we proceeded to the Roman Forum, the center of the civic life during the Republican times (or so I’ve been told).
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After crossing by the Via Sacra, we made it to the Arch of Titus before finishing the tour by the immense Basilica of Maxentius. A little word of advice, it’s better to at least read up a little bit about the ruins before visiting them, otherwise you’re just a sweaty person paying to walk through a field of very historic ruble and rocks. There was just so much history in Rome that it’s a little difficult to explain it all in 4 hours.
After the tour, we hopped onto a tour bus (Rome: Open Tour) and drove past the Quirinal Palace, Mascarino clock-tower, and the Vittorio Emanuele ll Monument. They handed out headphones to listen to a monotone auto recorded voice explain the fascinating history of the city, but my brother and I just changed the station to French and made fun of the accent.
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When the sun had set, we risked going back outside. We walked to the Fountain of Trevi (this one is way better than the“Fountain of Trevi” that they have in Las Vegas). Legend has it that a foreigner, who throws a coin into the fountain, ensures his return to Rome. To ensure my chances of a reutrn, I threw in 10 (you never can be too sure). I wanted to sit there and stare at the glistening water forever, but there were so many people that it was hard to stand for more than 5-10 minutes…who knew so many people were excited about throwing their money into a puddle of water?
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We made our way to the Spanish Steps, where the church of Trinita’ Dei Monti waited for us at the very top. We sat at the edge of the steps and enjoyed the view of the bustling streets, the shops and the people actually trying to make it up those steps.
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When it was completely dark again, we decided to get back on the bus. The sky was pitch black and the entire city was lit up, including all of the ruins and the Colosseum. We climbed up to the second floor of the bus, where it was now cold, and gawked at the city. I’m not going to tell you what it looked like because I am not that good of a writer to properly describe the absolute beauty of Rome at night. It is just something you are going to have to go see yourself.
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Just try to imagine a city full of beautiful marble cathedrals and buildings, lit up with twinkling lights and soft music everywhere you go. I started falling asleep on the bus because I had to get up early to prepare for my date with another very beautiful and interesting man….