In this post, I'm doing something different. I'm sharing with you a trip that is inspired by partially-released The Aeneid Collection. This trip takes place in Italy, specifically Rome and Naples, and could be done in 10 days, two weeks, or if you're really wanting to get into the nitty gritty, even three weeks. You can view all the places I've saved on my Google Maps by clicking here. This link is a map that shows you exactly where to go and includes the listing so you'll never get lost and you'll have access to each location's website.
My first stop would be Rome. I've saved some Roman ruins, museums, cathedrals, and famous roads. This is a collection of my favorite places to visit in Rome. I've left out the Roman Forum and Colosseum since those are such heavy hitters and many travelers will go there anyway it felt redundant to add it to the list. If you've been to Rome multiple times, then this saved list is also for those who'd rather skip those sites and see some other places. Keep in mind that if you are going to the Forum, Colosseum, or Vatican Museums, you'll need to book your tickets online in advance otherwise you won't be able to enter at all. Otherwise, as of writing this post, most of the other museums and monuments are relatively easy to navigate. It's best to check with their websites to see what is suggested.
For the Rome section of this trip, I've also included several day trips. Sometimes you need a break from the city and I've included three places that are more calm but still very fun. The easiest place to get to is Orvieto, which is only about an hour outside of Rome by train, has a beautiful cathedral and an Etruscan necropolis at the base of the hill. Hadrian's Villa is another lovely location albeit a little trickier to get to. Once you arrive though, you won't be disappointed by the nimble arches, mosaics, and famous pond surrounded with Roman statues. And finally I added the Gardens of Bomarza which is place I've never been to but am dying to see. After doing a quick Googles search it seems like you can arrive there by train and then catch a taxi. These Gardens have oversized sculptures and the thought of being surrounded by mythical garden giants feels very much like you'd be stepping into Virgil territory.
Orvieto, Hadrians Villa, Gardens of Bomarzo. Photos not my own.
After some days in Rome, I'd head down south to Naples and spend a few days there to visit the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum (Ercolano in Italian). I'd book a tour to see the underground tunnels of Naples that were first dug out by the Romans and used as recently as WWII for bomb shelter. Just outside of Naples and a little north, you can visit the entrance of the Ancient Roman underworld by going to visit the Cumae Archaeological Site. The cumae were seers and this location was where Romans would actually pilgrimage to if they needed answers to their life's problems. But of course if you're feeling fancy, you can skip the Cumae site and go south to the Amalfi Coast and see some beautiful scenery there instead.
Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples underground. Photos not my own.
Background to The Aeneid
The Aeneid is an epic poem written by Virgil around 19BC. It often gets lumped with the Homeric epics (The Iliad and The Odyssey) as being the 'third part' of the poem collection, but this book is entirely different. It plays off the Homeric epics throughout the story, but the narrative is ultimately about the foundation of Rome.
Virgil was prompted by Caesar Augustus to write this poem. Augustus, who was the nephew of Julius Caesar, came into power after a civil war and after the whole fiasco between Mark Anthony and Cleopatra happened. The new Emperor wanted to revive the Roman spirit and decided that his people needed an epic poem to give them a sense of identity after so much unrest within the government. Before the story was even published, the Romans were already talking about this new foundation myth story.
The story had a major impact on Italian identity, arts and culture for hundreds of years, but some reason has fallen off the radar and I've noticed that now when I bring it up, hardly anyone knows exactly what The Aeneid is all about. Many are familiar with the myth of the twin brothers Romulus and Remus who were left at the banks of the Tiber River and were later found and nurtured by a she-wolf. When they became of age, they sought out their cruel grandfather king who ordered their death as babies and defeated him. Upon deciding which twin would become the next ruler of Rome, Remus met his death at the hands of his brother and Rome therefore took the name after Romulus.
But The Aeneid is supposed to predate this story by almost 800 years and link ties with the Homeric epics. According to Virgil, it was the Trojans who were the forefathers of Rome. This was done mostly to set the Romans apart from the Greeks. They loved and shared many cultural aspects with the Greeks, but ultimately the Romans wanted to be set apart so they chose to align themselves with the Trojans.
That's all for now and thanks so much for reading this post. Do you have any places in Rome or Naples you feel should be added to this list? Comment below and I'll add them to my Google Maps link.
Mil abrazos (many hugs),