Throughout my life, I’ve been very aware of my surroundings and can get a sense when I need to be more protective of my belongings. Rome was definitely one of those places. Only once have I been pickpocketed, and it was in a crowded dance club. Rome itself is like a crowded dance club. The first sign is when someone you don’t know approaches you.
What place have you rushed through before it closed?
The Roman Forum is a plaza surrounded by ruins of ancient government buildings in the heart of Rome. By the time we entered the Roman Forum, we only had about an hour to check it out after visiting the Colosseum. We enjoyed walking along with the tall columns and other ruins. Some ruins date back to 500 B.C. when the Roman Republic started. Not as old as Stonehenge, but still very amazing to see.
Where did you have trouble finding the ticket booth?
The Roman Colosseum was a top priority while we were in Rome. It is one of the oldest ruins being built in 70AD, and it amazes us how much of it is still intact. Just thinking about how this place used to hold 50 to 80 thousand spectators, amazes us. That is about the capacity of an American football stadium.
Where have you tried to sneak in somewhere you weren’t supposed to be?
The Vatican Museum was high on our radar before going to Rome. We always heard about places like the Sistine Chapel, but never knew what they were like in person. We finally got our chance. After waiting in some significant lines, we got to see this beautiful place with so much significant history. It is so grand and holds such beautiful treasures.
The Vatican is somewhere we have always wanted to see, and we got our chance when we were in Rome. We climbed St. Peter’s Basilica, but climbing it is only half the experience. There is a treasure trove of fascinating architecture, history, and sculptures to see.
What is the tallest building or tower that you ever climbed by foot?
After a day of exploring the Vatican Museum, we climbed the 551 steps up to the top of Saint Peter’s Basilica. It was a perfect time to go as it was nearing the end of the day with the beautiful evening light. The views from above Saint Peter’s Square are spectacular. What we didn’t know is that we needed cash to enter. With a race against time and no cash on us, we had to figure out how to get it fast.
We never intended on staying in Reggio Emilia as we intended on staying in Bologna. However, a Couchsurfer reached out to host us and it ended up being the best Italian cultural experience for us. Mama mia! During our travels, we have seen so much generosity, but in this case, it was above and beyond anything we had seen before. Our host was incredible! We were so fortunate to start time in Italy with this amazing person.
What religious building have you visited that was the most interesting?
The Milan Cathedral was the highlight of the city and is the largest church in Italy. The cathedral took nearly six centuries to build as construction started in 1386 and finished in 1965. The ornate details on the building are incredible. It is no wonder it took so long to build. We enjoyed walking in the main square and seeing all the pigeons flying around. There were so many people there taking pictures, including us.
What is the most unique modern building you have visited?
Milan is an interesting city that is very modern with a taste of the old. It is the financial powerhouse of Italy and has swiss influence do to its proximity to Switzerland. We found the architecture there to be unique and unlike other European cities we have visited. It has a charm that more touristy cities like Rome do not have.
Modena is the place where many of the Italian fast cars come from. Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati are a few of the most well known. In fact, there is even a Ferrari Museum in this town for all the car enthusiasts. Modena also has much more with its beautiful parks, cathedrals, museums, and a palace. It also has live musicians playing in the streets and local festivals throughout the year. We stumbled on the Chocolate Festival, which we could not refuse.