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Italy Part I: Rome & Pompeii

After a year of daydreaming, and months of planning, it was finally time.

Boarding the plane for Europe in what had been almost 5 years since I crossed the ocean my excitement was could not be contained. I couldn't wait to be back in my home country and show my partner it's beauty and the European way of life ~ La Dolce Vita was calling my name and I was ready for it!

The first leg of our trip was going back through history to the time of the Great Roman Empire and Julius Caesar. ROMA! Shortly after our red-eye flight and checking in to our hotel we were off. Heading down the famous Spanish Steps, past the high-end shops, we trekked all the way down to the Roman Forum. The vast ruins, many elements still standing, is truly jaw dropping. You really can imagine the Romans long ago weaving through the streets heading to the market or going to church.

When your in the Forum you can see glimpses of the Colosseum in the distance; slowly calling you towards it. When we finally arrived in front of it I can honestly say it really is an outstanding piece of architecture. We booking a private evening tour - so there was only one other tour group in there with us - making us feel like the whole place was ours. We also had access to the arena floor and below the arena to see where the slaves, gladiators and animals were kept. It was fascinating.

Our evening finished on the rooftop of The American Bar at Hotel Forum where we drank the strongest and freshest mojitos of my life overlooking all of the Forum and Colosseum.

The next day was an early rise to get to Vatican City. I had been in the past and I can honestly say that if I didn't love art history I would probably skip the whole thing. I don't know why, maybe the Vatican only cares about making money these days, but they pack the place with as many people as possible. It's quite horrible to be honest, I don't know how they expect you to take in the beautiful and famous art that the Vatican Museums are filled with when you spend 90% of the time trying to find a places to stand so you can look at the art, or are moving out of the way for people trying to get by. Thankfully selfie sticks are not allowed in there. That would really be game over. I think the Vatican should really reduce the number of people in there, or everyone should have to join a tour group, no individual wandering in the museums, just to keep things moving and not having the rooms filled with people packed like sardines.

The said, no amount of people can take away from seeing Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel - ten years later and it still took my breath away. Again this room is packed with people. It would just be amazing if you could just lye down on your back on the floor, maybe with a pillow and just get lost in the magnificent painting for hours....dream on, dream on....

Following Vatican City we started to make out way back to our hotel, stopping at a restaurant on a little deserted street off the main road for a long lunch where a little band was playing some Italian classics on the accordion and Spanish guitar for a group of tourists.

We spent he afternoon staring at the Pantheon, walking through Via Navarona, and chilling on the Spanish Steps eating gelato. In the evening we at delicious pasta a then strolled down the legendary Via Veneto a la Fellini where we parked ourselves at a jazz bar to listen to some live music for the evening.

Next day was another early rise as we needed to catch our train to Naples. Thankfully we were close to the train station. I found the train station in Rome much more sketchier than the Naples one that I was repeatedly warned about. It's a little slice of madness, but we got our bearings quickly and the train ride was great - clean train, super fast, coffee and snack served.

We had a car waiting to pick us up so we didn't spend any time in Naples that day - although it did appear to look as rough as I imagined. We were heading to Pompeii this afternoon. I had been wanting to visit this place since I first heard of it. Going even further back in history to AD79, the city of Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum cease to exist. In just 18 hours, the entire city of Pompeii and all its inhabitants were buried in volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius. The two cities lay undisturbed under meters of volcanic debris for more than 1500 years. The seal of wet ashes preserved the public structures, temples, homes as well as the remains of some of the victims, including gladiators, soldiers, and entire families.

I personally could not believe how big Pompeii is, for some reason I failed to comprehend that two cities were buried. Apparently you need a full week there to see everything....we only had 2 1/2 hrs! I was most eager to see the body casts, and even though I knew what I was going to see it still took me completely by surprise. It was a very sobering experience, but I'm so so happy we went to visit. Experiencing history like that is just priceless and I will remember what I saw forever.

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