We made a spontaneous 7 day trip to Italy this April because of a great airfare deal ($461 roundtrip from SLC). It wasn’t a direct flight and we had a layover in LAX each direction, so the total travel time was around 24 hours.
When we arrived at Milan, we took a train to Rome. Had we planned this better, we would have seen if there were any flights from Milan to Rome, but the trains are fairly comfortable and fast.
The morning of the first day we visited the Roman Colosseum. It was within walking distance of our Airbnb. We happened to be there on the free day so we arrived one hour before opening time and waited in a line that became very long by opening time. The free ticket doesn’t allow you to go into the underground which we had wanted to do. The Colosseum was awesome (but about what we expected), but the Roman Forum was completely unexpected and much more than I expected (the ticket includes both areas).
The Pantheon was a Roman temple, built around 126 AD, and was and still is the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. It has been in continuous use throughout history and thus very well preserved. In 609 AD the emperor gave the Pantheon to the church. The church removed all pagan imagery. The holes you see in the triangular facade are the remnant of decorative bronze adornments that used to exist.
The Dome is extremely impressive and was an inspiration to many other architects who tried to replicate the impressive feat.
Italians are very proud of their Gelato and they have a reason to be. It is generally creamier, smoother, silkier, and better tasting than American Ice cream. The reasons include less air (more dense), more milk, less butterfat (allows true flavor to emerge), and it’s served at a warmer temperature (mouth is less numb).
Vatican City was established in 1929. With only 110 acres, a population of around 1,000 it is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population. It is ruled by the Pope, has a single post office (so we had to send a postcard from here – it arrived home almost two weeks after we did), and is . The most striking building is St. Peter’s basilica which has a huge dome architected by Michelangelo. This dome was used as a model for United States Capitol Building. In total there are approximately 551 steps, but we paid to take the elevator part way up. I highly recommend going to the top and seeing the city from a new angle.
The Church of Jesus Christ recently dedicated this beautiful temple (March 2019). Unfortunately for us, it was already closed for cleaning the week we were in Italy. We were still able to walk the temple grounds, explore the visitor center, and start watching general conference with a few of the other members and missionaries. We saw many wonderful things in Rome, but the spirit and beauty of the temple was unmatched.