Welcome to Roma!

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Our destination for the next five days was ROME. I had never been to Europe so you can imagine my excitement as we flew into Italy…to me it looked exactly like an Olive Garden commercial! Vast pastures, trees, and vineyards as far as the eye could see! I made incredible memories in this ancient empire and am so happy to share some of them with you (i.e.: me trying to “fight” a gladiator in front of the Colosseum).

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The Colosseum, built in 72AD is the largest amphitheatre ever constructed by the Roman Empire. It could seat over 50,000 Romans and held many events including the famous gladiator fights, executions, animal hunts, and dramas. It can be found right smack dab in the center of ROME.

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Here is what fascinated me: You can go inside the Colosseum and see the arena floor which was once covered with wood and 8 inches of sand. With the wood and sand gone you can now see the underground tunnels, walkways, and elevator shafts that once transported wild animals like tigers, bears, and wolves up to the arena floor. Unfortunately thousands of animals were slaughtered during these times. There is a report that over 3,000 were killed during just ONE day of events.

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Being the Reptile Guy I had to find a local accredited zoo to visit. Luckily Rome is home to the 4th oldest zoo in Europe. I wouldn’t argue with that statement: The zoo is OLD. Surprisingly, the newest part of the zoo was the Reptile House! It also seemed to be the most popular! You can’t argue with that grin on the crocodile!

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The animals found at the zoo are similar to the ones you can find in American Zoos. Giraffes (pictured), monkeys, and elephants can all be found throughout the park. The most surprising animal I saw on display was a single trout in a tank! Who would have thought a fish native to Idaho would be on display in Rome?

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My favorite animal was the pygmy hippo! These hippos are found throughout the forested parts of Western Africa. They might look similar to their much bigger cousins, the common Hippo but pygmies are much different. They prefer to live alone and hate confrontation.

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Here is probably the most famous meeting point for us in Rome: the Spanish Steps. It doesn’t make sense to me now looking at the picture…I mean why would we designate the most congested area to be our meeting spot? It worked though…If one were to get lost from the group; meet at the steps!

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You might be wondering why I have a picture of a mound of dirt with flowers on it. Believe it or not you are taking a look at where Julius Caesar was burned after he was killed in 44bc. It amazes me that his grave site is still adorned with flowers. You can see this at the Roman Forum.

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Here I am in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. It is the largest Christian Church in the world (as long as two football fields). I was hoping to get a glimpse of the Pope but it turned out I was in no luck.

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They call Rome the city of Eternal Love…and for very good reason! Unfortunately, there is not much love in this picture. It’s actually just a picture of my friend Natasha and me in front of the famous Trevi Fountain. Natasha and I had just met and decided to throw a coin in the fountain…legend has it that one who throws a coin in the Trevi will return to Rome someday. I sure hope that’s true!