Vicenza, Italy – away from the big Italian cities

I flew into Marco Polo Airport located in Venice, the famous city that requires a boat or a gondola to travel within the city, but I had no interest in going into some polluted, over-crowded city full of tourists there. Well, actually, the airport is west of the famed canal city as modernization took over the surrounding areas to build it up to accommodate the advances in technology such as roadways, airports, trains, etc. So instead of going east into actual Venice itself from the airport, I headed west, kind of like United States’s westward expansion all the way to the Pacific coast. Except, this one trip involved more a traveler’s mindset with no intent to settle it for permanent reasons. Nah, better to leave it as I found it and at least eat some Italian cuisine during my time there in Northern Italy and avoid the tourist blobs of Venice.

mountain view from top vicenza

A view of the city of Vicenza.

downtown innercity of Vicenza Italian tourism city

Like most European cities, many have pedestrian walkways to where they were designed for walking, not for automobiles. This is one of the reasons why Italians are skinnier than most as they are used to walking, whether it’s hot or cold so they are burning calories.

Italian church downtown old town religion religious ordrs walkways sidewalks

Religion is a big thing down there or at least, the legacy is still there since Rome and the Vatican are not too far away compared to other European cities which is why the presence of churches and cathedrals are prevalent in Italy.

brick slim tower

I thought that this was interesting – a brick clock tower. It almost looked like an obelisk at first but nope. A brick tower with decorations and a clock at the top.

Unlike some of the cities in Germany that were heavily bombed such as Dortmund, Frankfurt, Leipzig, etc., the country of Italy didn’t get blasted to hell. Sure, Italy did see its fair share of fighting and bombing during World War II, but for some reason the Italian cities were not as war ravaged and some of the citizens living there viewed the Allies as liberators because their viewpoint of Benito Mussolini, Italian’s Prime Minister (or also regarded dictator at that time) was not of good fortune nor reputation. Instead, the Italian citizens viewed the dictator in disgust due to all the damage and destruction that he brought the country to by getting involved in such nasty politics and eventual participation into war. Some might even say that Mussolini had too much influence on the King of Italy to help direct the country towards war which later led to the Italian monarchy to be abolished. Just imagine if there were still a king and queen in Italy! However, I think by the end of World War II, most citizens were just tired of monarchies and royalty unless you’re in the UK.

church on top of hill Italian Italy countryside

This an arch leading to Monte Berico which is a church on top of a hill overseeing all of Vicenza and the surrounding areas.

Monte Berico Catholic Church on the hill

The picture doesn’t do it justice as you really need the 360 panographic photo to show you what it really looks like from the church to the outside view of the countryside.

Due to unrest throughout Italy during the later years of World War II, Mussolini’s closeness to Hitler and the Nazis, country-wide shortage of food, the war not going well as the fighting was right on their doorstep and even in their homes – all of these things made it easier for the Italian residents to simply wave the white flag and welcome the Allied Forces. This helped limit the destruction to a minimum and propped the Northern Italian region for more immediate economic revival and success upon after the war. I think the Americans coming in actually helped the Italian economy as Americans likely interchanged with the locals on many different things especially on the food scene. That’s probably another reason why Italian food is regarded as one of the best in the world. And Italian food is so much better in Italy, but you must be outside of the tourist zone to get it!

Tip: Make sure you eat the gelato! It’s basically ice cream, but Italian-style ice cream. It’s quite good actually and some gelato is really clean meaning no chemicals can be tasted.

ice cream italian style dessert food

3 different flavors on one cone! Gotta love this stuff!

Tip: Driving around in this part of Italy requires having a car so likely you will have to rent one. Just note that the driving rules are very different over here – not only are there speed cameras and toll booths but there are certain areas in Italy where only the locals are allowed to drive there. Not tourists. Saying that you are a tourist will not get you out of any possible fines. One person told me that he accidentally went into part of old town and got 7 tickets in return. So make sure you know where you are going!

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Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, famous for the volcano eruption that caused an entire city to die off

Another famous site and somewhat of a landmark (or whatever is left of it) is the ancient Roman city of Pompeii where its residents were the unfortunate victims of death by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Numerous Roman scholars and poets wrote about the events that occurred there despite almost all of them having never been there at the moment of eruption and some of the reports were written many years after the actual event. Hell, even in modern times people have made a movie out of it even though the Vesuvius erupted over a millennia ago. But due to its well-preservation of the site, I think both the volcano and city have become famous over time especially after its re-discovery in recent times. People in modern times have a literally an experience to go back in time and see how life would have been back in the ancient times of the Roman Empire. Much has been written about the Roman Empire but very few physical legacies have been left to the progeny to look after and study.

pompeii vegetation horses marketplace

My first view of Pompeii as I walked in – a big grassy field surrounded by ruins. This area must have housed something but was not made of wood though.

theater drama war stories roman ruins

As with all Greek and Roman cities, an amphitheater is a must as that was the best way to tell stories in a half-oval theater.

pompeii street full of tourists people reimagination reimagine

On the streets of Pompeii are quite interesting as there are sidewalks but the road was meant for horses as well as sewage to go downhill. It’s possible that there might have been flowing water to clean the streets of garbage, trash, and filth. Despite the heavy amounts of people, it can actually enhance the experience so you can imagine the citizens of Pompeii as they walked about doing their own daily lives.

main central plaza pompeii old roman ruins romans empire colony

Here is the main plaza with a statue in the middle. I can visualize that this was where the main city activity occurred along with the local government buildings being here.

burial site for ruins mass death disaster volcano eruption

Scientists and historians believe that most people died from lack of oxygen due to all the ash engulfing people’s lungs. So it’s likely that many people ran to this main plaza to beg the Roman Gods for mercy.

Pompeii for some reason reminded me of Delphi, Greece with its statues and the style of buildings. I guess it’s no coincidence that the success of the Greeks would eventually be passed onto the Romans who later conquered and ruled over Greece.

pompeii statue to the sea protector of the city town

There was a statue facing the sea. It definitely gave off a Roman/Greek feel to the place.

vegetation around pompeii healing growth plants damage

Many centuries after the eruption can hide its aftermath effects due to the healing process of nature taking over once again.

The hike up Mount Vesuvius can be challenging one if you are not in shape and it’s a hot day – not all tourists who make the trip to the mountain don’t even try to hike. They just give up and go to the nearby cafe to sit down and coffee it away. Well, good thing I was in shape but the bad part was that it was a hot, sunny day. At least the bus did most of the work – I just to have to finish it by going to the top of the volcano. It kind of reminds me of Hitler’s Eagle Nest where the bus did all the work and all I had to do is take the elevator up and walk around on the top of the mountain. At least it was not the Inca Trail going up towards Machu Picchu. However, once on top of the volcano of Vesuvius, it can give some stunning views of the nearby areas unless of course, the weather is terrible blocking your views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea.

volcano walks hiking nature italian italy italia

Me ton top of the volcano, Vesuvius. It’s not an active volcano at the moment. For the moment so it could technically erupt again.

crater volcano active volcan bottom empty pit

You can take a look inside the crater and see… nothing but a bunch of rocks. It hasn’t erupted in centuries but you never know what could happen in the future.

napoli naples city aerial mountain view vista de la montana cima volcano

To the north is a view of Naples (or Napoli in Italian).

southern view from Vesuvius

And to the south is a view of Torre Annunziata.

This is definitely one of the better sites to go see any kind of Roman ruins to because of the preservation that the city of Pompeii went through. Some of the walls even had political graffiti on them that historians and those who study Latin can see how colloquial Latin looked like. There have even been bread that was preserved in one Pompeii home as the people baked bread in their stove as the volcano erupted and even after many years, it did not disintegrate due to being protected from the elements.

Tip: I recommend taking a tour to do this tour because the guide can explain certain aspects of Pompeii that regular people would have missed as well as you don’t have to drive because driving conditions in Italy can be challenging. Another idea to get the most out of this visit is to think and imagine being a local Roman living there so you understand how life was like before the volcano eruption. I took the tour from Rome which made things easy for me instead of trying to workout the transportation and logistics. It was similar to my trip out to Stonehenge where someone else took care of the driving since these places are notorious for speed cameras in order to generate tax money out of unsuspecting foreigners.

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Vatican City, the smallest country in the world and all within Rome

One of the weirdest things when it comes to traveling to foreign countries has to be visiting the super micro-state nation of Vatican City which is actually within the city limits of Rome itself. Yes, the Vatican is within the city of Rome! And yes, the Vatican is considered to be its own country. It’s even smaller than the small countries of Luxembourg, Andorra, and Monaco that I’ve visited! Even the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar is bigger and it’s not that big either!

In the past, the Vatican was not just the Vatican but rather it was the epicenter of the Papal States, a country on its own which basically consisted of a mix of northern and central Italy. These territories were actually ruled and given administration from the Pope and his officials. However, due to the constant wars that Europe was enduring, the Papal States became smaller and smaller until Italy (which became a Kingdom at the time of the Italian reunification) started to annex the Pope’s lands due to the extreme fervor of the country’s desire to be whole again. In later years, negotiations came to a proper agreement and compensation to where the Pope and the Holy See would be established as an independent, sovereign nation, apart from Italy even though it would confined within the city limits of Rome. There’s a lot of history within the Vatican due to all the things that have gone on over the years starting from the 1st century AD when Christianity was finally established within the Roman Empire by setting up in Rome, the capital, to today after all the wars and developments that happened to the Papal States, most especially the Vatican. So again, the Roman Empire helped spread Christianity throughout Europe and eventually to the rest of the world. The legacy is obvious by seeing some of the churches, cathedrals, and memorials out there such as the Cologne Cathedral, Christ the Redeemer, Seville Cathedral, Sagrada Familia, Hill of Crosses, and many more sites out in there, particularly in Latin America.

skip the line Vatican City entrance walls Rome

That right there is the line just to get through Vatican City security. So once you walk in, there’s another line and then another line…. best to get a tour guide with skip-the-line privileges.

lawn cesped vatican papal country religious religion symbol

Once you go through the maze of it all, finally, you can see some daylight and green grass for once.

Just note that even getting into the Vatican is quite a long process due to all the long lines and protocol. You have to understand that visiting the Vatican is not just a stroll in the park. Instead, you are visiting another country. It almost feels like going through airport security as you look up at the tall walls, metal detectors, security guards, etc. So, don’t forget that despite the Vatican being really small and its borders within the city limits of Rome – it’s technically another country. Yes, even though it’s that tiny compared to the most countries out there in the world.

vatican city museo museum vault of treasures tesoros

This is the Vatican Museum building filled with works of art and tons of other treasures that fill the Vatican’s vaults. Of course, like any other museum, the curators change the items on display.

hallway passage ways with art obra

Be sure to walk and look around because even the hallways are decorated with art.

white statue marble old very antique expensive

Even a statue will be standing out by itself. Unfortunately (or fortunately to prevent stupid tourists from possibly damaging it), you can’t go up and inspect the works of art up-close to see when it was made. Hundreds of years of ago???

power man weighlifter bodybuilder statue

Some statues were well carved and obviously made for the Pope/Vatican.

pricey statues of art old white religious artwork

And the further you go into the Vatican, it seems like the works of art get more exquisite and look heavier and more expensive.

Be sure to walk around as some of the halls are just well-made and well-decorated. It almost reminds me of Versailles Palace where the hallways are decorated completely from top to bottom.

painted ceiling vatican power christian faith center epicenter

Even the ceiling is painted/decorated!

paintings on the ceiling painters sculptors artists for the Papal Regency

Who painted these on the ceiling? Just note that the Vatican also houses the Sistine Chapel which was where Michelangelo painted the famous The Last Judgment on the ceiling. DO NOT TAKE pictures as the Swiss Guards are watching.

Inside Vatican church

A different angle.

details chisled worked on hand made

The grandeur of Vatican Church really shows – even the smallest details were well-crafted and thought of.

Inside Vatican church

A different angle.

marble statue religion power of christianity pope holy see

Another statue with a marble background. You have to understand that the Vatican had a lot of power and money that it used its funds to commission many artists, sculptors, painters, craftsmen, etc. so as to portray that this religion has blessed them with such wealth. It wasn’t a bad idea particularly when having to meet other monarchs to get them in line with the church’s desires.

And in this small, pint-sized country, it’s jam-packed with a lot to see because of the high status that it holds upon Christianity, most specifically with Catholics as it is the holy seat of power due to the power of the church and the Pope. Also, many of the Papal’s treasures obtained over a long period of time are on display as the Vatican understands the necessity to be open to the tourist in advertising its power, reputation, force, money, riches, etc. That’s how it retains its followers and might even gain followers as well. But to me, I think opening up this tiny country is a way to generate some easy income thanks to its embrace of tourism. I mean, why have those great treasures and works of art just sit in some warehouse collecting dust when they can instead be showcased to the open public and earn some coin that way?

Piazza San Pietro

This is Saint Peter’s Square which is a completely open plaza. This is where most people congregate in order to see the Pope give his blessings.

St. Peter's Basilica seats concert mass grand people

A more up-close picture of St. Peter’s Basilica where the Pope would make his appearances.

obelisk at st peter's square vatican Basilica holy see tourism

I don’t know why people are so anti-social with their selfie sticks but can’t you ask another person to take your picture? That’s what I did!

Tip: Don’t mess with the Swiss Guards. They’re the ones wearing the tri-color (red, blue, yellow) uniforms that look goofy and out of place. They are real soldiers who act as the Pope’s bodyguard who can and will harm you if they are threatened in any way. It’s the same thing with the Queens Guard in the UK – they will beat you and then have the police arrest and haul you away to jail. The uniforms are not just for show unless of course, they are wearing modernized and/or upgraded clothing. I’ve heard that even some of the Swiss Guards will go undercover so don’t do anything funky there in the Vatican. Another good idea is NOT to take photographs of these guys because they just confiscate your camera!

Tip: Pay for a tour guide to take you to the Vatican. Tour guides generally have special passes that allow you to avoid the huge, long crowds waiting to buy a ticket and then wait some more just to get into the Vatican. To me, it’s far worth it to pay a bit extra in order to avoid waiting and do some more waiting.

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Another world wonder: Colosseum

Due to the massive amount of things to see and places to go to in Rome, I intentionally left this site out because it requires to be on its own: Colosseum, another world wonder! Like the others, this massive stone stadium was built back in the BC era and was basically the original grand stadium for all the biggest competitions and fights and struggle for victory or death that would later pave the way for modernized sporting events that we have today. The Romans had some great architects, engineers, designers, planners, and constructors for this massive stadium particularly during a time where they didn’t have machinery, computers, electricity, etc. The Colosseum was fully constructed by human hands, manpower, and probably some pack animals. But to do during the ancient times makes the Colosseum a marvel to look at especially considering all the events that have occurred there giving rise and fall of gladiators, heroes, fighters, lords, winners, losers, and the death.

street view la vista de la calle colosseum stadium rome

As you walk to it, you can easily see from the distance… the Colosseum!

street view level of colosseum italian world wonder

I made it! This was probably one of the easier world wonders to go visit!

inside the colosseum world wonder

Inside the Colosseum! Now time for some exploring and thinking what a gladiator was going through in his mind and body.

roman fighters thieves animals show big fights killing dying

After years of neglect and even treated as a rock quarry, people finally decided to protect the Colosseum as it would later become a symbol of the ancient Roman Empire. Here you can see what would be a skeleton shape of the Colosseum floor as the Romans made a lot of upgrades so fighters/gladiators and/or animals could be introduced more quickly.

arena area fighting killing destroying each other

You have to utilize your imagination as if the Colosseum was completely new and jam-packed with people screaming at the fighters inside the arena area.

ground level fighting stage arena

Here’s a ground level of the Colosseum. Now just imagine that you were a poor slave being thrown into this mess… or a grandmaster of a gladiator ready to gain fame, honor, glory, and tons of money.

bloodbath ancient times party overindulgence

This is one of the many tunnels in the Colosseum. You could either be a spectator, a big fan ready to get inside to see the biggest fights of your life! OR you could be one of the fighters trying to fight for your life – either fighting against blood-hungry gladiators or barbarians or maybe even worse – tigers, rhinos, elephants, etc.

I look at the Roman Colosseum as being the model footprint for all the modern stadiums in the world that got its foundation from. So for all those famous stadiums that I went to such as Camp Nou, Santiago Bernabeu, Allianz Arena, Signal-Iduna Park, Wembley Stadium, Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford, etc. which some of those stadiums themselves have years and years of history. However, the Colosseum was the very first of its kind for amazing sports events during that period of time which many are lost to history but I’m sure there were a lot of amazing gladiators, fighters, swordsmen, etc. that were popular heroes of their time. And they all made their names immortalized among the Roman crowds due to their exploits in the Colosseum. You have to remember that most of the ancient arenas back then were built to accommodate maybe a few hundred people in a circular form and if you weren’t in the front row, it was hard to see anything. However, the Colosseum was probably the biggest, the most grandest stage of all for a warrior to make a name for himself or perhaps even herself. The Colosseum, no doubt, set up modernized professional sports for success by having elevated seats with rows and rows of them so that thousands of people could see what was happening and make great memories made by those who are considered to be sports heroes by the fans.

360 arena stadium colosseum roman times architecture

Make sure you walk around and absorb the experiences that both the crowd and participants were probably going through in the Colosseum. Also imagine the bloodlust that the crowd was going through since this was one of the few ways that the Roman Emperor could placate his subjects by making these spectacles so grand with so much blood and killing that the attendees would agree (vote of confidence) with the Emperor’s rule. So the more blood and amazement (costing a lot of money), the better the chance that the crowd would agree and not rebel.

walls rock imagination stadium

Some imagination is required when walking through the walkways because undoubtedly there was wood or rock supports where the seats would be.

arch outside of the colosseum roman architecture arch building

And right outside the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine which is a commemoration of Roman Emperor Constantine victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.

protest manifestacion en roma protesting marching march angry locals

As I wandered inside the walls and windows of the Colosseum, I noticed that there was a parade going on and then I realized that it was a protest. Huh… now that’s something you don’t see everyday especially around a world wonder like this one. It made me wonder if the locals were protesting tourists who are probably overrunning and ruling the city.

And with the Colosseum visit, I have overall 6 world wonders visited:
Christ the Redeemer in Brazil
Chichen Itza in Mexico
Machu Picchu in Peru
Petra in Jordan
Giza Pyramid in Egypt
Colosseum in Italy

I just need 2 more and both of them are in Eastern Asia:
Great Wall in China
Taj Mahal in India

Yes, there are 7 world wonders but in actuality, there are 8 as the Egyptian Pyramids were omitted because people thought that they belonged in the original, ancient world 7 wonders. But to me, it doesn’t matter. Just go travel and see these places no matter what.

My travel gun sights will now be slowly moving and deploying towards that eastern direction of Asia in order to complete that quest and cross the bucket list section into full achievement zone and that quest will be complete! Commence the travel plans immediately!

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Rome, Italy – the one time capital of the known world

Unlike the modern European capitals that I’ve visited in the past such as Copenhagen, Berlin, Kiev, Riga, etc., I like to think of Rome as being the first capital of the world. During the ancient times, the Roman Empire stretched wide and far encompassing the Mediterranean Sea as its very own inland salt water lake while dominating the majority of Europe which even at that time, people thought that the Romans had conquered the known world. The Romans, in the absence of modern technology such as the computer, automobile, phone lines, internet, etc., have impressively been able to expand that far and wide which put today’s world onto its current status as of now due to its historical legacies which are still seen today with the code of laws, philosophy, culture, and of course, language that still have some Roman-ness to them.

roma plaza placa

There are soooo many amazing buildings to see in Rome as you just walk along…

The biggest of all has to be the language that the Romans gave to the world, Vulgar Latin. The vast majority of all European languages utilize the Latin script and alphabets which later evolved into languages such as English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, etc. With the world slowly turning more and more into English as the global lingua franca, it’s apparent that the Romans have produced such legacy language gifts to its descendants. Thus the saying that “All roads lead to Rome” was very much true in those days as all the best leaders, soldiers, traders, business people, sailors, citizens, etc. formed this grand empire with Rome in the middle of it. To me, in today’s world, London is the only other city that comes close to being a world capital since the British Empire stretched across the globe and the fact that it’s such a modern economical and political city at the world stage.

However, Rome, due to being the first major empire to emerge out of the ancient world and with all of its glory, the city gets the nod as being the first capital of the world since some of the European capitals of today that I’ve visited fell under the rule of the Roman Empire: Madrid, Lisbon, Paris, Athens, Brussels, and more. Even the places that I visited that were outside of Europe: Morocco, Egypt, and Jordan were all under Roman rule at one point as well. Hell, even London (which I consider as another former world capital) was under Roman rule at one point which shows what kind of legacy the Roman Empire had on Europe and the rest of the world.

There is so much stuff to see in Rome that it’s very difficult to cover it all within one day or even two days, three days. You almost need a week or so to see it all because of the large amounts of history that flowed through this grand city that used to house an empire’s capital which oversaw the entire Mediterranean Sea basin being dominated by Romans at one point. The Romans are still the only empire or country that controlled all of the Mediterranean throughout history. There are many attractions in Rome which are the must-sees since they date back to the old Roman Empire days.

Forum Romanum Foro Romano

What was called the Roman Forum was the center of Rome which acted as a marketplace and central area for Roman government buildings. Obviously, the glory days are long gone but one can think how busy this place might have been and how awesome built up would have looked.

ancient empire grandeur top of civilization legions grand empire

Here’s another angle of the Roman Forum.

roman forum arch republic severus military victory monument

This is the Septimius Severus Arch which is part of the Roman Forum to commemorate the victory in the Roman-Parthian Wars. The Parthians were an empire in what would be modern-day Iran. The Romans decided not to exceed the Euphrates River as the eastern-most border so the Romans would not be so over-extended.

ruins archaelogists dream dig sites 1000 2000 500 bc

You can often spot ruins / archaeology sites throughout the city of Rome. Some of which were very influential back in its era.

military fort fortress wall brick stone defense

Sometimes there are sites that just stick out at you like this Roman Fort.

However, I think it’s best to get a physical map of Rome and then plan out your visit of the city. Another idea is to get a tour guide to show you around the city. But there are a lot of hidden treasures in Rome particularly those that were in relation to the Pope or Papal States or to the Christian faith having been a presence in the Rome for many, many years.

Italian symmetry religious keyhole to vatican sight line fun hidden tourism trick

It’s just a regular green door on an elegant frame. But I had no idea that the keyhole known best as the Aventine Keyhole was famous for having its keyhole line up perfectly to a view of the Vatican. Whether this was intended or by surprise, no one knows for sure. But I would have never known unless I was taken there.

corridor keyhole passage to holy holiness religion religious christianity capital roman

My cameras doesn’t do the justice but you can see the Aventine Keyhole opens up to a long corridor to provide any visitor a eyeful of treasure towards the Vatican.

inside basilica roman rome church catholics treasures dome

Next to the Aventine Keyhole is a cathedral called the Basilica dei Santi Bonifacio e Alessio. From the outside, it looked like another dull building but inside are the treasures waiting to be seen by human eyes.

decorative shrine inside church in rome

Towards the end is an elaborate decorations of a shrine which appears dedicated to the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.

decorated roof dome top ceiling for religion expensive

Make sure you look up as you can even see that the dome ceiling was decorated.

And even outside of the Roman and religious sites, there are others that go along with the grandeur of things to make the city exciting to go see and experience.

pantheon temple church roman times

What was originally a temple to the Roman Gods later became a church. But its true secret is the beauty indoors.

pantheon treasure italian italy religion roman greek gods

Pictures do not provide proper justice as the Romans have really designed and made this building amazing. The dome has a hole in the top which provides light into the building.

fountain rome tourists crowding lots of people fight tourism

Probably one of the more famous and crowded tourist attractions is the famous Trevi Fountain. Just note that there are a lot of tourists going to this site that you are shoulder-to-shoulder. Sometimes it’s resulted in fights between tourists for shoulder and elbow space.

Altar of the Fatherland Altare della Patria

This is the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument also known as the “Wedding Cake” to the locals because it looks like a big white wedding cake. It was constructed to celebrate various things such as the King of Italy (when they had one), Italian reunification, and the Italian Armed Forces.

tomb of unknown soldier italian flag

The view from the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument. This site is pretty visible even from far away because of its white marble as well as its unique boxy shape.

Tip: Knowing Spanish and French can assist in communicating with the Italians but don’t ever think that you can completely rely on just those two languages because it’s not like what it was during the old Roman times when Vulgar Latin, the lingua franca back then, was spoken everywhere within the Roman Empire. All the Romance Languages have evolved so far from each other over time that the languages are not completely interchangeable despite a lot of words and verbs being the same or quite similar to each other. Still, I’ve found out that knowing Spanish and French does help when the locals don’t speak English – that alone can help bridge the communication gaps.

Tip: If you visit during the summer, get prepared to combat the onslaught of your fellow tourist hordes. Summer and the Christmas-Winter Break are the high seasons meaning that it could get shoulder-to-shoulder with people so be prepared. In addition, it’s going to be hot, sweaty and humid so know what you are getting yourself into.

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