When I told my classes where I would be going, one bright student chimed in, "Rome!?! Like, as in Rome, Greece!?!" LOL! I'm pretty sure some of them were as excited as I was for this opportunity of a lifetime. I would be traveling and touring Italy with 40 other teachers from across our great nation to prepare for our own upcoming school trips.
Our first plane took off around noon Texas time. By the time we landed in Rome, it was 2 am Texas time, 9am Rome time. The plane ride across the Atlantic was an overnight flight, but I couldn't sleep at all. Like, not one bit. I watched a few movies and several tv shows, though. By the way, a word to the wise, never, and I mean NEVER, watch The Fault In Our Stars on a plane filled with 250 other passengers! It is sad, it is sappy, and you will be caught ugly faced crying.
Thirteen hours after the take off of the first of my two flights, I finally arrived in the beautiful city. Let me tell you, if I was to chronicle everything we did over the span of our trip, it would take hours to write. Hours that I don't have. Plus, I'm not narcissistic enough to think that you care to read that much about my adventures. However, at the request of my students, here it goes; my trip to Rome, day one, summed up into a few paragraphs and lots of pictures.
Upon landing, all of Rome was waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed, while all of us teachers were sleep deprived and still wearing yesterday's clothes. Sleepy eyes and dirty clothes couldn't slow us down, though. I mean, we're teachers...in a city so rich in culture and history. There was no time for naps, no time for showers. We brushed our teeth, slapped on a little eyeliner to make ourselves look alive, and hit the streets of Rome. First stop, the Pantheon.
After a lunch of traditional Italian cuisine, PIZZA, we headed out to do some more exploring. Now, here's where I really must put in a disclaimer. I learned a few things about myself on this trip. 1. I suck at speaking Italian, learning Italian, and remembering anything with an Italian name that I wasn't already familiar with. Trying to remember the names of everything I saw was so hard for me. That being said, bear with me. 2. Italian streets and I don't see eye to eye. They're tricky! They don't just run North/South and East/West. They do this funky looping around stuff and really mess with my inner compass. I learned to be a follower, not a leader, while in Rome.
Directly in front of the Pantheon is the Piazza della Rotonda. Piazza basically means "city square" in Italian, and let me be the first to tell you, Italians are very fond of city squares. They. are. everywhere.
Apparently, I was too taken aback by the hilarity of this goofy looking guy to get many pictures of the fountain that sits in the middle of Piazza della Rotonda. However, I must say, for being up about 36 hours at this point, I don't think I look too bad!
We walked and we walked on that first day, taking in the sites and learning about this great city. Some areas were literally straight out of a picture you'd see on a wall at the Olive Garden. Other areas, so different from what I expected. AND, the cathedrals! Did I mention the beauty of the cathedrals?!? I'm fairly sure that I have set foot in 90% of Rome's Catholic Cathedrals, each one beautiful and unique in its own way.
Let me enlarge this picture below, so you can see JUST how populated Rome is at night.
The last three pictures above were taken at the Spanish Steps, yet another "square" in Rome. I knew Rome was a highly populated area, but until you set foot onto the Spanish steps at night, you have no idea just how densely populated this city of six million is. Try finding your tour guide in that crowd when he looks just like every other Italian man in Rome!
Tomorrow, I will chronicle day two in Italia where we took in the sites and sounds of the Colosseum, the Forum, and walked about eight miles of uphill, step filled treachery to see every last nook and cranny of this great city.