I spent two days on my own in Rome. The first day, I visited the Vatican. I didn’t go inside, but I spent a lot of time in the square just staring at the statues or people-watching.
The second day, I went to the Colosseum and the Forum (referring generically to everything that is on the Palatine Hill and thereabouts). Since I was alone, I did whatever I wanted and I spent more hours here just exploring and people-watching.
Standing in front of the Colosseum was one of my favorite experiences of the whole trip. It’s such an iconic building, and it was not at all disappointing to finally stand before it in person and simply enjoy its majesty. This picture does not nearly do it justice, even though I really tried.
Probably my proudest achievement of this whole excursion was not having anything stolen from me. Nobody harassed me either, even though I was completely expecting it.
Exploring the Palatine Hill area was great too; there is definitely a lot to explore. I will definitely be back to explore again, though probably not at the height of the vacation season next time. This time, it was necessity that I had to be there in the middle of July.
The actual tour was a study tour that took me ALL over the Bay of Naples. It was a group of 21, including the two professors who led it. We were of all ages and walks of life, but we were all united by our love of classics. Several of us were college students getting ready to attend grad school, some were Latin teachers, others were simply there for love of the subject matter.
I learned so much, and got to see an enormous number of wonderful, mind-blowing things. I got to climb around in the deep underbelly of two Roman amphitheaters, which are marvels of architecture and engineering:
I saw Pompeii and Herculaneum:
I climbed to the top of Mt. Vesuvius:
I managed to get up the trail to the top in about 15 minutes, because I didn’t stop to take any pictures on the way up. It was hot and smelled like sulfur, but I wanted to beat the prediction that it would take me 40 minutes to get to the top.
I will continue posting pictures as the spirit moves me, over the next several days, probably. Overall, this trip was probably the best introduction to Italy I could have asked for. I enjoyed so many wonderful things while I was there, and I already can’t wait to return!