We awoke refreshed to a beautiful morning in Rome and enjoyed the breakfast provided by the host at our bed and breakfast. Once we got ready, we left for our own walking tour of ancient Rome.
We started by again visiting the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, which was holding an Easter mass. We continued on to the Colosseum, which was incredibly crowded. We had downloaded several relevant Wikipedia articles onto Janelle's Kindle so that we could read about the various monuments we planned to visit. We learned more about the Colosseum's varied history, such as how it has been used as a gladiatorial arena, a Christian shrine, housing, workshops, and as an artificial quarry (i.e. people took pieces of stone that made up the building up through the mid-1700s).
Continuing on from the Colosseum, we viewed the various Roman fora, which were expansive meeting places and governmental plazas built over several centuries. Most of the buildings are in ruins and are very deteriorated, but some are surprisingly preserved. We found it very interesting how ancient and modern buildings are built so close together.
At the north end of the Forum is a recent monument to Vittorio Emmanuel II, who, in 1861, became the first king of Italy since the 6th century. The monument, already almost 100 years old, is a massive building in the same style as ancient Roman buildings. We were able to climb up several sets of steps and get some great views of Rome.
We walked south, getting more views of the Forum and heading towards the Circus Maximus, an ancient chariot-racing stadium. By now, it was time to find lunch, so we walked along the Tiber River looking for a place to eat, eventually stopping at a couple of small shops. We've found that there are a lot of immigrant-run combination pizza-and-kebab shops which tend to be inexpensive yet delicious.
After lunch, we continued north into Piazza Navona, a crowded pedestrian plaza. Like many of the other piazze, it was inundated with large groups, street artists, merchants, and overpriced restaurants. But it was still a nice break. Unfortunately, around this time, it started to get a bit rainy.
We continued on to the Pantheon, which was probably our favorite monument that we saw today. It's a geometrically-perfect building constructed in 126 AD as a temple to the ancient Roman gods and is remarkably preserved, spared from abandonment and destruction after having been later declared a Christian church. The dome is still the world's largest concrete dome and has a circular hole in the center of the roof to let in both sunlight and rain. Despite its age, the building (especially its interior) is in great condition, especially when compared to the buildings of the Forum.
After the Pantheon, we continued to the Trevi Fountain, Rome's famous Baroque fountain. It was raining and very windy, so we only spent a little while there, but managed to grab a few pictures.
We eventually found a great pizza place where we split two pizzas for dinner. Our bill was accompanied with two small complimentary glasses of limoncello, which was a nice surprise to end our delicious dinner. After dinner, we headed to our room and spent time planning more of our trip.