What else would we do on our first day.
Can you guess?
Yep, a hop on - hop off tour. There really was no other option being tired and not to sure what to do with the day (all big-ticket items already booked for other days).
We had a great walk to the bus stop, crossing the River Tiber and seeing some ruins that looked similar to the Colosseum (that is until we saw the real thing).
The bus ride was great, shady and once we got upstairs quite cool. We did have to wait a bit because it seemed everyone was on the same bus.
So here a few of the things we saw.
What is amazing about Rome is that amongst the 'normal' everyday things such as signs for McDonalds and shops and house there are these places that are thousands of years old. Take the picture above, that is the oldest structure in Rome that is still in one piece and it is 2000 plus years old. What!?!
On our journey, we decided that after lunch we would head to a church that looked beautiful but without lines. After some pasta and pizza, we headed to it.
It is called Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
It is very special because it is the first church to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the world. It also has a legend attached to it that involves the Virgin Mary appearing to a Bishop and a rich man on the same night, instructing them to build a church to her. Legend has it that she told them she would send a sign to show them where to build the church. On August the 5th it snowed on top of the Esquiline Hill and that is where they built the church. It sometimes is called the Lady of the Snow because of this and once a year, on the 5th of August the church as a festival where white flowers a dropped from the roof in the church.
It was a very beautiful church and we took a tour of a private area and saw beautiful mosaics that you could get right up too. We also saw a staircase designed by Bernini.
This was an original manuscript. Soooo old.
Time to head back to the apartment, so it was back on the bus.
We decided to walk through the ruins to get home. It was pretty and fascinating and really old. It was an old theatre. There are buildings attached to it and had people living in it. Kinda crazy to imagine living next to something so old.
This was part of an ancient temple to Apollo (I think).
Another ancient temple.
And it seems when in Rome and you can't find a car park just do this ...