When we stepped out of the car along a roadside overlooking the Roman Forum and ruins, I could hardly believe my eyes. I’d seen pictures of these places in history books, and watched movies like Gladiator that showed these scenes, but nothing quite compared to the standing there and seeing it with my own eyes. I was in awe. I’m still in awe as I look at some of these pictures we snapped that day.

 

 

I stood there quietly for several minutes overlooking for the site and then began to recognize the enormity of the Forum as I noticed tiny people walking on the dirt streets below. It was truly amazing.

 

 

The Roman Forum, which for centuries was the center of Roman public life, is one of the most visited sites in the world today, attracting more than 4.5 million people annually. In a time before Christ, this was a place for processions and elections, a venue for public speeches, and the site where criminal trials were held.

 

The Forum was also the center for most commercial affairs. Statues and monuments commemorate the city’s great men and it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history.  What a privilege it was to stand there and admire such a site. The next day, we visited the Colosseum in the city center of Rome.

 

A view from inside the Colosseum.

The Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built and is considered one of the greatest works of architecture and engineering ever. Construction began on the amazing site in 72 AD and was completed in 80 AD. It is estimated it could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators.

I’m amazed to think that it took fewer than 10 years to build this huge structure of travertine on the outside and tufa and brick in the interior. The main pedestals were built of marble blocks.

 

 

The Colosseum was used for staging various events, including gladiator fights, wild animal displays, theatrical entertainment, executions, religious ceremonies, mock sea battles, and re-playing famous Roman victories. We paid 12 Euro to visit the inside of the Colosseum and see this historic place where Christians and criminals were executed as midday entertainment. It’s daunting to think that more than 700,000 people died over the years in this bloody arena in the name of entertainment.

[well]This blog post is part of a series about the “20 Things We’ll Remember Most About Our Summer Vacation.” Up next: The Joy of Sidewalk Cafes. [/well]

 

  • Perched high on a hill in Tuscany is the medieval village of Montepulciano. In the center of town is the piazza grande paved with bricks laid in a herringbone pattern in the 14th century. ⁣
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Standing in the piazza, looking at the bricks, we were filled with a sense of awe at the history these bricks have seen. They've been there for 700 years so have seen times of war and peace, celebration and sorrow. Generation after generation of townsfolk were born, lived and died, and all have walked on these bricks. ⁣
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This is one of the things we love most about traveling. It gives us an authentic feel for history, one we wouldn't have if we just stayed at home.
  • We were so tickled when @thechefandthedish reached out and asked us if we'd like to take a complimentary cooking class with them. They offer private cooking classes with chefs from all over the world that you can take right in your own kitchen. ⁣
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For this class, we Skyped with chef Paola who taught us to make strawberry risotto, traditional bruschetta, and a delicious poached pear dessert that blew our minds. ⁣
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Risotto always seemed like a difficult dish to make, but Chef Paola explained it so well that it wound up being pretty easy. We spent a great afternoon with friends, learned something new, and enjoyed a great meal after. A class with The Chef & The Dish is a great gift idea, as well. Follow the link in our bio, and you can read more about our class on our blog.
  • The world is a big place, and there's so much to discover. Go places, and see things. It doesn't matter if you don't have a detailed itinerary, either. Sometimes, it's more about the journey and what you see and experience along the way, than it is about the destination.
  • During our trip in Tuscany with @italyunfiltered, we stopped at a small family winery. After learning about the organic methods they use to produce high quality Chianti Clasico wines, we had a tasting. ⁣
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Wine tastings in Italy are nothing like those in the US. They are glorious affairs complete with delicious foods paired with the incredible wines. This particular winery brought us samples of homemade, organic jams made from fruits grown in the family's garden. We dabbed these on locally produced pecorino cheese. Yum!⁣
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We're so glad that we had a local driver and guide. Stopping here was a highlight of our Italian adventure, and we never would have found it on our own.
  • The village of Marsaxlokk, Malta, is famous for these brightly painted fishing boats. The design is rather ancient, possibly dating back to Phoenician times, though it's still used today because it is very strong and holds up well in rough weather. One feature of each boat's decorations, are eyes painted on the bow of the boat. These eyes are said to protect the people fishing while they are at sea.
  • The blue cobblestones of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, are actually part of a recycling project which started 500 years ago. Iron foundries in Spain produced huge piles of waste, called slag. Rather than throw these piles away, the slag was made into blocks which was placed into ships as ballast. The ballast was offloaded in Puerto Rico when they loaded products bound for Spain. The blocks were then used to pave the streets. ⁣
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Pretty good idea, and 500 years later, they are holding up well!
  • The Overseas Highway connects Key West and the Florida Keys to the mainland U.S. While the entire road is a marvel of engineering, the centerpiece is the Seven Mile Bridge, which runs over water for, well, seven miles.⁣
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The next time you're driving, reset your trip odometer and wait until it gets to seven miles. You'll see that's a pretty long distance. And then think about the fact that people built a bridge over water with no land to support them for that distance. Pretty incredible-especially since the first one was built in 1912.
  • We'd never heard of cannonball rocks before we drove past them at North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and asked each other, "did you see that?" We'd never seen anything quite like these natural "concretions" created when water leaked into pockets of minerals in the ground. Now, as a hill erodes, these formations are exposed.⁣
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Seeing these rocks was such a cool experience because it reminded us of why we travel. We never know when we'll find something new, something that we never knew existed. We got along fine not knowing about cannonball rocks, yet now that we've seen them, our lives are a little richer. ⁣
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The world is a pretty cool place. Check it out.⁣
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@ndlegendary

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