Well, here we are smack dab in front of the Colosseum! After diligent research I discovered that a trip to Rome and a nice hotel with a great location could be booked with Go Ahead more reasonably than if I did it independently. Rome: The City Experience with the two night extension gave us the opportunity to see Rome and also time enough to do some other excursions in Italy. The best part of the trip was the fact that our oldest son and our family friend enjoyed the adventure with us. We toured the Vatican Museum and St. Peters, joined an optional excursion to Florence, went by train to Pompeii and even had time to visit Ostia Antica by train.
I purchased tickets in advance from the Vatican Museum’s official web site. I selected the earliest tickets of the day and we walked right past the huge line, showed our confirmation sheet, went to the ticket window and were allowed in the museum well before the general public. Pope Julius founded the Vatican Museum in the early 16th century. It is located inside Vatican City and it displays works from the immense collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries. The Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms are included in the route through the museum. After leaving the museum we leisurely admired St. Peter’s Basilica.
We journeyed by train on a day trip to Florence, as an optional excursion with our Go Ahead group. Located on the banks of the Arno River, and in the Tuscany region, Florence was a center of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of its time. It is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance and it is famous for its art and architecture and for its cultural heritage. This is a splendid view of a few of the many of the wonderful sculptures of “David” that is located throughout the Palazzo Vecchio area of Florence. We toured the Cathedral of Florence, saw the Gates of Paradise, Basilica of Santa Croce, the Ponte Vecchio and lots and lots more. It was a great day!
The ancient city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman city near Naples. History tells us that Pompeii was buried under about 30 feet of hot volcanic ash from an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. and was lost for over 1,500 years before it was accidentally discovered in the 1600’s; excavations began in 1748. Since then its excavation has provided insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. This picture shows Mt. Vesuvius still looming in the background over the ruins of Pompeii. What a fantastic experience it is to walk back into time… 1,933 years to be exact.
Getting to Ostia Antica from Rome by Metro and train was easy and inexpensive. It will cost you just one Metro ticket each way. Ostia Antica is a large archeological site that was the location of the harbor city of ancient Rome. It was Rome’s seaport, and a working port town, with a population of upwards of 60,000 people. As this photo indicates, the site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics. With the fall of the Roman Empire, the port was abandoned and Ostia fell slowly into decay, and was finally abandoned.