Published on April 8th, 2014 | by Emma Hackwood0
Preservation of the Past: Ancient Rome in Modern Day Italy
Have you always wanted to explore Italy? Flight Centre’s Stephanie recently travelled there to explore historical cities and ancient ruins. She shares the highlights of her trip with Cosmos Tours:
Known as the Eternal City, Rome is a city filled with ancient history and modern accents. With so much to do and see, it is no wonder that tourists from all over the world flock to this city to take in its many historical sights and attractions. Recently, I was lucky enough to be on a tour of Italy with Cosmos tours called “Rome, Sorrento & Capri” that followed the ancient trail from Rome down to Pompeii, Naples to Capri, the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento and back to Rome. It was a wonderful tour that saw us visit some of the most amazing historical areas and bring to life a history I had only known through study.
Our journey began in Rome, where in the last few years, much has been done to restore and promote its ancient Roman history. Our first full day in Rome had us at the Coliseum and the Roman Forum for half the day. The Coliseum is a well-known structure and getting a full tour of its history was so enriching. Imagining the elaborate spectacles that used to take place there was easily done considering the magnitude of the structure. From there we walked to the Roman Forum which was the original centre of the Roman city and world. It was quite revealing to go through the decrepit buildings and hear the meaning behind their significance. One such building was that of the Vestal Virgins – these were young girls and women that were from high ranking families and were kept in a convent-like building right in the centre. They were responsible for keeping the sacred fire alight at all times and were integral to the livelihood of the Roman Empire with their ties to religion and the Roman state. Having this history reveal itself before us was just incredible.
On the next day, we made our way to the glorious ancient city of Pompeii. Well know for its preservation, Pompeii is an ancient city that comes to life before you. Covered in volcanic ash in 79AD, this city was frozen in time until its discovery in 1749. From its cobblestone streets, bathhouses and water systems to its muralled walls, it is easy to see the day to day life of a Roman in its streets. And since the eruption happened so quickly, those that lost their lives have been preserved as well. I really enjoyed this tour and suggest that anyone heading to Pompeii get a proper tour guide so that you can get the full story of this ancient city.
From here, we took the hydrofoil to Capri and stayed two nights on this idyllic island. While there, we did a half day tour of Anacapri (the upper part of the island). The main highlight there is the 20th century house of a Swedish doctor who built his home upon the ruins of Emperor Tiberius’ villa. Much was revealed by going through his house, including seeing the famous “Cave Canem” (Beware of the Dog) tilework upon the entrance and skeleton set upon the floor of the dining room reminding us to enjoy life and live in the present, as we do not know the future. The gardens surrounding the house were elaborate with ancient sculptures and had amazing views of the island.
After our days in Capri, we went on to Sorrento with a day tour of the Amalfi coast. Seeing these areas were so picturesque and scenic and the towns were quaint. We left Sorrento and headed back to Rome along the highway route. It was along this route that out of the distance you see a line of tall Cyprus trees in a clearing. It was mentioned that this was the original Roman road – a trusted route in ancient times that was used to transport goods and people. It was a vivid reminder of the saying, “All roads lead to Rome” and the empire that was built upon the notion that Rome is the centre of the Universe.
Before we left this wonderful country for Canada, we were able to get one last glimpse of ancient civilization by visiting the Catacombs of San Castillo, the most famous of the ancient burial grounds in Rome. We were ushered below by a priest who gave us a detailed tour of the underground world. These Catacombs were created during the early Christian times as memorial grounds for the new Christian religion in secret and to provide an alternative to the Roman method of burial – cremation. It is said that many early Christian martyrs were buried here. The tour went through the significance of the different types of catacombs, such as how high ranking families would bury the father in a half moon shape to show his importance. It also made you realize that people from this time period were quite short and did not live long lives like we experience now. I really enjoyed visiting this underground world and suggest it to anyone interested in these ancient customs.
This tour was a great way to get first hand experience of Roman culture and ancient times through a variety of locations and sites. I was really impressed with the guides that were used by Cosmos as they were local, friendly, passionate and well-versed in the history of the site we were visiting. I strongly suggest anyone looking to explore any of these locations to use a tour with line bypass as it will decrease the time spent waiting in line and give you much more enriching experience overall. I also suggest this tour for anyone that has not done a bus tour before as the driving was minimal and the inclusions and cities visited were amazing.
Looking for more information on travelling to Italy for historical adventure? Contact a Flight Centre Travel Consultant at 1-877-967-5302 or browse our Europe deals online.