I started telling my story of Italy in non-chronological order. We actually started our trip in February, in Rome.
I don't know if I was tired, or stressed, or intimidated by my meager language skills, but I didn't love Rome. I still have some good memories of it, like Sant Eustachio coffee , supposedly the best coffee in Rome and I have no reason to argue with that, since it was delicious.
And the Pantheon; absolutely spectacular. Completed in 126 C.E., it was originally a temple to all the gods, and is now a Christian church--probably why it wasn't destroyed during the Middle Ages. This photo is a view of the oculus (opening) in the top of the domed cieling.
It was an amazing space because it is spherical inside: the height from the floor to the oculus is a tall as the diameter of the dome and the effect makes the ceiling feel like it's simultaneously very light and open, and closing in on you. Awesome.
I also really enjoyed the Roman Forum and Coliseum. Crowded with tourists, yes, but truly impressive.
The English literature professor with the program read some poems by Lord Byron when we visited and this was my favorite section:
CXXXIX-- from Lord Byron's "The Coliseum"
And here the buzz of eager nations ran,
In murmur'd pity, or loud-roar'd applause,
As man was slaughter'd by his fellow-man.
And wherefore slaughter'd? wherefore, but because
Such were the bloody Circus' genial laws,
And the imperial pleasure. -- Wherefore not?
What matters where we fall to fill the maws
Of worms -- on battle-plains or listed spot?
Both are but theatres -- where the chief actors rot.