After a shower and breakfast we left the hotel to see more of this incredible city. First stop: Ancient Rome â€˘ the Coliseum, Arch of Constantine, The Roman Forum, Palatine Hill..... Unfortunately the warm sunny weather we had yesterday has been replaced with light rain. I donâ€™t care â€˘ Iâ€™ll get wet, buy an umbrella or whatever, unless it really starts to pour the weather isnâ€™t going to change my plans. Getting to the Coliseum is easy: a quick Metro ride from the hotel and there we were. I was here a few years ago, but that first glimpse of the Coliseum when you exit the Metro Station still is very impressive.
We decided to spend a little more and go on a guided tour.
It was a good idea because we learned more about what we were seeing and, again, I didnâ€™t get the feeling that I was missing something. When we got to the Coliseum, the line there was something incredible. And this isnâ€™t even a very touristy time of the year! As I said, it was raining and even with that there were hundreds of people waiting. Amongst the tourists were numerous hawkers selling umbrellas. They start out asking ten Euros and end up at about three Euros. I didnâ€™t buy one â€˘ it was only sprinkling anyhow. At first we were in the individual ticket line, but as we stood there a few English people stopped to tell us that we should join a group to avoid the line and have a guided tour since there are no explanations to anything inside (which is true â€˘ I remembered that from last time, either you study up on this beforehand or you wonâ€™t realize the significance of a lot that you are seeing). So, we decided to go with the group. For 20 Euros we got the ticket to enter the Coliseum, Palatine Hill and Forum plus a guided tour of everything.
So, the guided tour bit adds about 8 Euros to the deal, but after all was said and done, I am very glad that I did so.
The grim reaper! S. Pietro in Vincoli - St Peter in Chains
The girl who showed us the Coliseum made the visit a lot more informative and enjoyable, but the tour guide at the Palantino / Forum was fantastic. This guy really knew his stuff and made the visit one of the highlights of the trip. For over 1 and a half hours he explained so much... So, donâ€™t be afraid of getting scammed â€˘ it looks like these people soliciting tour participants are legitimate.
Seeing all of this in light rain wasnâ€™t bad at all. If it had been any harder I would have bought an umbrella. On the other hand, you really have to watch out or you may get your eye poked out by umbrella wielding tourists! Also, theyâ€™re not too thoughtful about standing right in front of the group blocking everyone elseâ€™s view with their umbrella.
St. Peter's Chains.
Between the Coliseum visit and the Forum / Palatine visit we had about two hours, so we took advantage of the time to go see a church called St. Peter in Chains - S.Pietro in Vincoli. Donâ€™t miss this! Here you will see Michelangeloâ€™s â€śMosesâ€ť which is an impressive, beautiful sculpture. And, itâ€™s not far away behind bullet proof glass. The name of the church refers to the chains that bound St. Peter when he was a prisoner. They are on display as an icon under the main altar. There also is a statue of â€śthe grim reaperâ€ť which is interesting....
It started to rain a little harder as we left this church so we ducked into a little cafeteria for a snack to while away some of the time left before our next visit.
The Bar, called Bar Giorgio, was a little grungy but I had a good piece of pizza there.
The rain let up a little as we sat in Giorgioâ€™s bar so we decided to wander around a little more. We still had about 45 minutes before having to be back at the Coliseum to meet with the group for our tour of the Palatine hill and the Forum. As we approached the Coliseum it started to rain again, this time a little harder, so we ducked into the metro station. Since we still had plenty of time, I decided I wanted to quickly find a place that I had had the BEST cappuccino ever by Termini. Itâ€™s just a minute by Metro, we have the 3-day passes anyway, so we headed over there. I wasnâ€™t disappointed. Fantastic coffee... Too bad we were in a rush and I didnâ€™t write the name of the place down, itâ€™s right by the Termini Station, nothing fancy, just one of many typical bars around the station, but nice atmosphere and great coffee.
We stayed there about 15 minutes longer and then dashed back to the coliseum and our tour.
Palatino is the hill that Romulus founded Rome upon. His brother, Remus, wanted it to be on the Aventine hill (which you can see across the circus). Finally, Romulus killed his brother Remus and got things the way he wanted. This hill has some fantastic ruins on it. Evidently this was the â€śBeverly Hillsâ€ť of ancient Rome â€˘ where the most powerful and influential people lived in their spectacular Villas. The guide told us that by the third century all of the houses here had running water â€˘ something that Rome couldnâ€™t say again until the 1950s.
Mussolini had a palace built on the Palatine hill too.
The Arch of Constantine
The visit lasted nearly two hours and was great. It rained softly most of the time, but not so hard as to soak everyone.
Very close to the Forum is the Piazza Venezia and the enormous marble Vittoriano â€“ thereâ€™s enough white marble there for a whole country full of cemeteries! Itâ€™s immense. Actually, until I got up close I didnâ€™t realize just how enormous this place is. Itâ€™s dedicated to Italian Unification and Vittorio Emanuelle II who was unified Italyâ€™s first king. Thereâ€™s a museum which documents the history of Italian unification in the interior. We didnâ€™t visit the museum or enter the Vittoriano, but I hear that if you walk up it you are rewarded with an impressive view of Rome.
Again, more aimless wanderings... Even in the rain, this city is magical. We ended up having lunch at a place called Pastarito â€“ I wanted to go someplace a little more â€śauthenticâ€ť and bustling but this looked good and was open and available just as the rain got a little more intense. It was quiet inside, and we had a nice table by a window overlooking the street.
When we finished lunch and left the restaurant it was still sprinkling, but it was nice to wander along the street lined with ochre, rust and cream colored buildings. One, called Via della Pilotta drew our attention, so we wandered down it, avoiding puddles and walking through some arches over the street which was pretty. At Piazza della Pilotta we saw a University building and ducked inside there to get out of the rain.
Finally we got to an area with a lot of shops, not far from the Trevi Fountain as it turned out. One of the shops there is dedicated almost exclusively to Absinthe. We looked around a few shops and then at just about dusk we were back at the Trevi Fountain (amazing, thereâ€™s always a crowd there!). This city can really wear you out! I donâ€™t know how much we have walked in the past couple of days, but it has been a lot!
So, as it was starting to get late and we werenâ€™t hungry after a huge lunch at Pastarito, we decided to walk to the nearest metro station and head for the hotel. We have to get an early start tomorrow â€“ the flight back to Warsaw leaves at 10 a.m. The Metro Station is right by the Triton Fountain, so we took a look at that, had a little snack at Bar Tritone and then went to the hotel.