We woke up early our first morning in Europe, and after a quick breakfast consisting of eggs, cereal and orange juice, I was more than ready to begin exploring the city. As usual, we crammed our group into yet another tour bus, all of us eager to catch a glimpse of some of the great structures and sites that has made Rome so popular throughout history.
After about an hour or so of driving, the Coliseum came into view and it left me speechless. It looked exactly as I had seen it in textbooks and photos, except for some steel platforms that jutted out of the side used by construction workers to work on preserving the amazing structure. We found a parking spot, hopped off the bus, and made our way up the crowded sidewalk toward the Coliseum. It was incredibly hot, but I didn’t mind, as I was too focused on what lay ahead. The Romans were one of the greatest civilizations in history, and one of my favorites to study, so it just blew my mind that I was there in Italy walking along the very cobblestone streets laid down by these great people. We zigzagged our way through other tour groups and beggars, and eventually squeezed our way inside.
Inside was even more spectacular. I was able to pay more attention to the design and how the Romans developed the structure. It amazed me how at such an early age, humans were capable of creating such an astonishing monument. We walked through the lower and upper sections, pausing every once in awhile to listen to our tour guide explain the significance of certain parts of the Coliseum. According to our guide, it was more of an amphitheater than a coliseum, but it did hold some gladiator fights at some point in time. A little while later, we departed and made our way to our next destination: the Roman Forum.
Just a short walk from the Coliseum was the Forum, which sits in the center of Rome. At one time, it was a square surrounded by several Roman government buildings, but all that remained when we walked through were ruins. It was beautiful, and from where I stood, I tried to imagine what it looked like back then, bustling with Romans carrying about their business. We made our way across the blistering cobblestone, and soon exited the Forum into the modern day heart of Rome.
The rest of the day was spent exploring on our own. A couple of friends and I walked around and just examined the culture and lifestyle seen in modern day Rome. Everywhere we went, there always seemed to be some sort of architectural phenomenon with importance, and after seeing all of these fountains and structures, I soon thought of the whole city as one giant monument to the great ancient Romans.
We found a local pizza place, where we dined on a generous helping of pizza with toppings ranging from the typical cheese and sausage, to some more uncommon ones like artichoke and egg. We all demolished our food and admired the small restaurant we dined in, until finally it was time to meet up with our group and head back to the hotel.
The entire bus ride back all I could think about was how amazing it was to have seen the Coliseum and the Roman Forum, something I never thought would happen in my life. I also kept thinking about how excited I was for the next day to begin so I could explore even more of the beautiful city.