on our first night in Italy, I could not sleep for the life of me. I remember laying on the top bunk, tossing and turning in the crisp white sheets and just thinking of how wonderful this journey had already been. we had to get up bright and early because we had tickets to visit the Vatican. after driving back to Rome on the treacherously winding roads, we waited in line for quite some time to be let in to the most gilded and ornate building I have ever seen (yup, even more so than Versailles). I was raised Roman Catholic, so this was supposed to be a big deal for me. I was much more interested in the gold covering every surface and the frescoes done by the most famous painters to have ever lived than in the spiritual significance of this destination. our tour of Rome continued onto more ruins and brought us to the Colosseum, which blew my mind with its size and the sense of history that were held in its walls. to imagine the Romans sitting in the thousands of seats, cheering on a gladiator and waiting with bated breath to see the reaction of the emperor. oy. so exciting!
I think the most striking characteristic of Rome is the juxtaposition with the incredibly old with the modern and new. ancient ruins are right next to traffic circles, with tour groups snapping away with their digital cameras while nuns and locals go about their day. I felt the same way about Berlin, but I really don't think one can easily grasp that these massive buildings were here long before we started saying BC.
see my first day in Roma here