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Right, ready for a relaxing day rummaging random Roman ruins in Rome?

Rome Travel Blog

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heading to Piazza Venezia with the Roman forum on the left and Il Vittoriano in the distance
 

Boy was I hungover today. The home brewed beer had tasted great last night, yet somehow it didn't seem all that great the next morning...

But I forced myself to get out of my hotel room. Not only because I had to check out, but also because I had some serious sightseeing to do. After all, I'd been in Rome for three days and not even seen the bloody Colosseum yet!


So the theme for today's sightseeing was ancient Rome. I started over at Il Vittoriano, which is the biggest landmark in ancient Rome. It is a big, brash, white marble monument which is generally loathed by most locals, as it completely overshadows the old Roman ruins which are located right behind it. It was erected in 1885 to commemorate Italian reunification and resembles a giant typewriter more than anything else, with seemingly not much purpose other than just being there.

Il Vittoriano

On the other hand, the renaissance style architecture of the monument does suit the style of the city, even if it is a completely useless occupation of valuable land.


I climbed the heavily guarded stairs to the mid level of the monument. Heavily guarded, not so much for security, but rather to make sure no one sits down on these steps. Apparently Roman authorities have decided one Spanish Steps is enough.


The top of the monument boasts great views over the Roman forum which lies directly behind it.

I walked around the Vittoriano and ended up on the Piazza del Campidoglio. This little square was designed by Michelangelo and is considered to be Rome's most beautiful square.

Roman forum
It is also one of the lesser visited squares, which I guess adds to the enjoyment.

I had a nice little break sitting in the sun, before I continued down some little steps towards the Roman forum, only to find out the place I took for an entrance was only an exit and I had to walk all the way around (back to the Vittoriano) to enter the Roman forum.


The Foro Romano, or Roman Forum, is a large excavation of what was once the main market place in ancient Rome, the place where it all happened. Still happening I guess, though the market stalls and stores have made way for tourists by the thousands, trampling over what once was the most majestic square in the world. There isn’t a whole lot standing, really. In fact, the forum is a somewhat disappointing affair when you have the huge colosseum standing right next door.

Basilica di SS Cosma E Damiano atop the Tempio Romulo
The biggest building still somewhat intact is the towering Basilica di Massenzio, which still has four walls and part of the ceiling still intact.


Another interesting building is the Basilica di SS Cosma E Damiano, which was built smack on top of the older Tempio Romulo. This building illustrates the way several layers of the city were built on top of eachother.

The Forum Romana is about 15 metres lower than street level, so one can only wonder what more lies hidden under the modern city. It still occassionally happens that ancient ruins are discovered accidentally during construction works.


After spending a couple of hours strolling around the forum and next-door Palantino hill, it was time to brave the queues of the Colosseum.

Colosseum
With four million visitors a year there is a guaranteed block-long queue any time of the day. Or is there? I had picked up a Roma pass, which gave me three days unlimited public transportation as well as entrance to several of Rome’s prime attractions. And besides entrance fee, I also had priority entry! I could walk right past the huge queue, and go straight in - teehee!

Normally I am not a big fan of these type of museum passes, but in this case I have to say, being able to jump the queue was worth the price of the pass alone!


Although... if I'm completely honest, I am not sure the Colosseum itself warrants its ticket price. Don't get me wrong, it is a fantastic piece of engineering, a hugely impressive monument of days gone by - from the outside!

But once inside there isn't all that much left to tickle your imagination.

inside the Colosseum
A thousand odd years of neglect have taken its toll and there isn’t much left to remind of the grandeur of days gone by. I mean, I have seen other theatres (Bosra, Pompeii, Pula) which are far better preserved.


I'm glad to have seen it, this being one of the new wonders of the world and all, but if you're ever in Rome and unsure whether or not you should brave the massive queue to get in, I'd say don't. Instead, grab yourself a seat and admire this terrific structure from the outside.


I met up with the guys from Gazpacho in a bar near the Colosseum. I must say, there are worse places in the world to sit down for a beer than a terrace overlooking the Colosseum.

The band had been doing several interviews today, and were now enjoying a couple of hours off before they had to head back to the bus and leave for Germany tonight.

dinner at Da i 2 Ciccioni
I would be seeing them again in Stuttgart on Monday.


I went back to my hotel and picked up my bags, as I would be staying my last three nights in Rome with Alessandro.

Alessandro came to pick me up with his car, a beautiful old Citroen 2CV. Just the type of car someone like Alessandro would drive. We drove to Trastevere where he had made a reservation in a 'restaurant'. We were joined by Flaminia and a group of his friends in the tiny “Da i 2 Ciccioni”.


I say 'restaurant' in quotation marks because technically it is not a restaurant. The place doesn't have a license and is operating illegally. Basically what it is is a garage with a small kitchen and three tables that can seat up to 20 people at the time.

Our host starts to sing
Italian home cooking can't get much more homely that this.


The menu was basically a set menu, costing 25 euros per person, which included unlimited wine and soft drinks. Not sure where the wine came from, but the unmarked bottles indicated it was homegrown wine as well. Both food and wine were utterly delicious. We were served two different kinds of pasta, several types of meat, salad and other things. Nothing fancy, but all very very delicious.


As we were sitting and enjoying ourselves the conversation turned to differences between Dutch and Italians. One of Alessandro's friends is actually living in Amsterdam, so she was able to act as some kind of referee, having in depth knowledge about both.


I mentioned that Italy was probably the one nation in the world where people truly lived up to its stereotypes and cliches.

part of the gang in front of Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere
I gave an example of a cliché of Italians: All Italians are criminals. Here we were sitting drinking illegally produced wine in an illegal restaurant that exists solely through word of mouth. They agreed that most Italians indeed don't care too much about the law. Laws are more like a set of guidelines rather than a code of conduct.

Did I have more clichés? Sure, I could think of dozens of them. Italians are great cooks, well, the food on our table was testament to that. Italian ice cream is the best in the world - no arguing with that one either.

What's more? Let's see, Italian cliché #4: Italians wear sunglasses inside. And they do, it was 11 o'clock at night and of the 18 people inside the restaurant two were wearing sunglasses.

Italian cliché #5: all Italian males are womanisers. Once again, only three groups of people inside the restaurant, and there were 4 girls in our group.

Trastevere by night
This certainly resulted in plenty of attention from the guys sitting at the table next to ours.

Italian cliché #6: all Italians are great singers. When all food was served and everybody was eating the chef started belting out some Italian crooners, and before long three quarters of the customers joined in.


It was a fantastic night out. Great company, great place, great food, really great wine, great ambience, great everything.


Friday night is party night. That's no Italian cliché, it is like that pretty much everywhere in the world. And Trastevere is one of the best places to party, with lots of nice little pubs tucked in the little streets.


As the night progressed Alessandro's friends left one by one, until there were just four of us left.

Castello Sant'Angelo
Ale wanted to show me some more of Rome, so we headed back to his car and he drove us to Castel Sant'Angelo, which is beautifully lit at night. Standing on the Ponte Sant'Angelo in front of it, we had a wonderful view over the different lit bridges over the Tiber, and the dome of St Peter's in the distance.


Rome was built on seven hills, and Alessandro got the crazy idea that we should visit all seven of them. Even though it was getting close to 3 AM, we started to drive up to one of them. I can't remember the name of it, I think it was the largest of them, from which we had a stunning view over the city.


Ale realised we wouldn't be able to visit six more hills tonight, so we all decided to call it a day. As both Flaminia and Lisa had to be brought back home first we spent another hour or so cruising the streets of Rome before we finally ended at Alessandro's appartment in Tiburtino.

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heading to Piazza Venezia with the…
heading to Piazza Venezia with th…
Il Vittoriano
Il Vittoriano
Roman forum
Roman forum
Basilica di SS Cosma E Damiano ato…
Basilica di SS Cosma E Damiano at…
Colosseum
Colosseum
inside the Colosseum
inside the Colosseum
dinner at Da i 2 Ciccioni
dinner at Da i 2 Ciccioni
Our host starts to sing
Our host starts to sing
part of the gang in front of Basil…
part of the gang in front of Basi…
Trastevere by night
Trastevere by night
Castello SantAngelo
Castello Sant'Angelo
Some Roman dude
Some Roman dude
Il Vittoriano
Il Vittoriano
Piazza Venezia
Piazza Venezia
Colosseum seen from Il Vittoriano
Colosseum seen from Il Vittoriano
Piazza Campidoglio
Piazza Campidoglio
Piazza Campidoglio
Piazza Campidoglio
Roman forum
Roman forum
Roman forum
Roman forum
Basilica di Massenzio
Basilica di Massenzio
Palantino
Palantino
Palantino
Palantino
Palantino
Palantino
inside the Colosseum
inside the Colosseum
inside the Colosseum
inside the Colosseum
inside the Colosseum
inside the Colosseum
inside the Colosseum
inside the Colosseum
Trastevere by night
Trastevere by night
St Peters basilica seen from Punt…
St Peter's basilica seen from Pun…
Rome by night
Rome by night
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photo by: vulindlela