Rome, the Eternal City

SEPT. 30 - ON THE TRAIN - It's Sunday, one week before the end of our trip, and we're on a train bound for Torino (Turin). We've just spent a long week in Rome, and this is the first chance I've had to write anything. Rome, like Paris, is chock-full of sights to see. Yet, for some reason, I was not just too busy and too exhausted to write, but also strangely uninspired.

It's not that there was little of note, quite the contrary; the city overflows with historical, artistic and architectural wonders. But Rome is so old that its sights run the gamut of historical periods from the Roman Republic to the present day, making it hard to impose a theme upon it all. As Michelle commented, "Rome is like ten cities in one." Any given city block may contain ancient Roman ruins, a Medieval church, a Renaissance palace and a contemporary Barnes & Noble-style bookstore, all competing for space. Its nickname, "The Eternal City," describes it perfectly.

Though I may have lacked the inspiration -- or perhaps the imagination -- to write about what I saw, there certainly was no shortage of sights to see. For me, St. Peter's Basilica ("home base" for the Catholic faith) was the most impressive. The sheer size of the world's second-largest church dwarfed any expectations I may have had. Even the over-hyped and massively crowded Sistine Chapel didn't disappoint. But the handful of Rome's 900 churches that I visited were nearly as impressive in beauty, if not in size. Many of them house more famous works of art than some art museums back home. The ruins of the Roman Forum, too, were quite spectacular, although after Pompeii, they lacked some of the impact they otherwise may have had.

I'd like to say that we "did Rome," that we saw all of the major sights, but we couldn't do it all. Though I neglected to toss a coin over my shoulder when we visited the Trevi Fountain, I'm sure we'll be back. There's just too much to see in one trip.

Next: Winding Down in Turin

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