The story about a wonderful day in the Eternal City with private guide.
They say Rome wasn't built in a day... but in a day I visited it! The tour of Rome started at 10 o'clock when I met Viviana, our guide, in front of one of the most beautiful monuments of the Eternal City: The Pantheon. I arrived earlier that day and I decided to sit and wait for Viviana on the steps of an ancient fountain, situated in the center of the square. It was a sunny day, the square was full of colors and smiling people from all over the world.
Viviana introduced us the history of this magnificent monument, its transformation from a pagan temple to a Christian church. As we entered the first impression I had was the astonishing ray of light coming through the oculus of the dome. I raised my head up and I felt dizzy for a moment.
The next step was the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, very close from the Pantheon. We get immersed in the Roman Baroque: finally I met the first example of my favorite art movement! Viviana described every fresco that covers the interior side of the Church, also that one that creates the famous "fake dome" painted by Andrea Pozzo. Wow! This optical illusion was great!
We left the Church and Viviana suggested to have a break with an italian ice-cream before the next step: the majestic Trevi Fountain, the most famous fountain in the world. Viviana said that water was an important element of Rome, in fact this monument celebrates it. When I arrived at Trevi Fountain for a while I felt myself like Anita Ekberg in the Dolce Vita, exclaiming "Marcello!". It was a funny moment for my fellow tour!
At 13 o'clock we went for lunch at this lovely traditional italian restaurant and we ate the famous "pasta alla carbonara" with a good glass of red wine. Then we got the car and the driver brought us in front of the most wonderful and amazing monument in the world and the symbol of Rome: The Colosseum.
When I entered I had a strong feeling, I figured that this was the place where the splendors of the ancient Rome were celebrated but also a place of death. I imagined gladiators fighting for their freedom and Emperors giving the thumbs down.
We concluded our guided tour by visiting the Vatican, in particular St. Peter's Basilica and Vatican Museums. At the beginning of our Vatican Tour, we walked around St. Peter Square with its colonnades that symbolically embrace the people. There's a lot of statues lining the top of the square of all the Saints and Martyrs for the faith.
This is the same square where the Pope celebrates a public Mass on Sundays. Constantine built the first church on the top of a Necropolis because he wanted to honor St. Peter, in fact St. Peter's Tomb is at center of this church. However, St. Peter's Basilica as we know it now was built later on top of Constantine's Basilica. Walking in these sights reminded me the sets of one of my favorite books, Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.
Then Viviana gave us the passes to skip the very long line at the entrance of Vatican Museums.
In these museums there are art masterpieces from all over the world and different historical periods. We saw paintings from Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, artifacts dating from Ancient Egypt, important Etruscan pieces, and a collection of Modern art (Picasso, Chagall, Dalì and many more).
Last but not least the Sistine Chapel, decorated with frescos by Michelangelo. What an amazing place! Viviana described it with enthusiasm and a lot of details, in particular The creation of Adam: she explained that the God's billowing shroud design the shape of a brain.
The tour is over, we say goodbye to our incredible guide Viviana with a little bit of melancholia and we thank her for this intensive and beautiful experience. The Eternal City left me eternal memories.