Rome Travel Blog› entry 91 of 128 › view all entries
Oh my goodness...Rome Italy! Stepping out of the train station leaves you with a big question mark over your head...it's a rather modern area, and not what I would expect from Rome! It then dawned on me that this is actually a modern area of the city, and I got excited about what Rome had to offer. I dropped off my things at the hostel and started my walk through the city. I had a map in my guide book, but I quickly got lost (in a good way, I just wanted to wander around)! The first amazing sight I found was the Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the major churches in Rome. I couldn't believe how many churches there are in Rome, each with their own unique design and each built to remember a saint, martyr, event, etc.
The Santa Maria Maggiore turned out to be near my hostel, so I would check it out often - but it never ceased to impress! I was excited that I was leaving behind the modern area of Rome and venturing into the city I had longed to see. I wandered some more and passed some buildings I wanted to check out later (if I could find them), but I had my heart set on finding the Colosseum. At this point in time, I wanted to see it more than anything else in the entire world. After giving up on using my guide book map, I just headed "southwest" toward where I thought the Colosseum should be. I made turn after turn until, all the sudden, I made a left turn and there it was.
Standing out against the rest of the background, it was impressive even from a distance. I headed toward it and suddenly I was in the heart of Rome! There were ancient arches everywhere, old stone streets and buildings still standing from long ago. I think it was the most amazing moment in my trip at that point. Although there was a ton to see and do in that area, I started my exploration at Palatine Hill, the ruins of the old Imperial Palace. While very little of the palace still stands, it's well worth the walk through. Not only that, but it offers some great views over various parts of Rome. From there you can see Circus Maximus, the Roman Forum, Colosseum, and other ancient wonders of Rome.
After leaving Palatine hill, I took a walk back to the Colosseum and went inside.
The actual platform where the gladiators faught has been destroyed over time. 2000 years ago, it was a wooden floor with built in elevators (yes, elevators 2000 years ago!) that would lift the gladiators into the fighting arena. They would then fight to their deaths with thousands watching. Below the arena are several rooms with curved walls.
Once I felt I had seen enough in the Colosseum (which ended up taking a few hours), I headed for the Roman Forum I had seen from Palatine Hill. After walking down cobblestone roads and under the ancient archways, I found the Forum with relative ease. I used my guide book here to help me identify which buildings were what, and where events happened in history.
I'll take this time to mention the subway system in Rome. While all other major cities have many lines, Rome has two. One which goes through the northern part of the city to the Vatican, and the other heads south. Why is this, you ask? The reason is quite simple: When they tried to put the subway system in, they kept running into ancient Roman ruins underneath the current city. Obviously, no one wanted to destroy all these great findings, and many of them are impossible to remove.
After wandering the city some more and taking pictures of all the cool things I could find, I came to Santa Maria in Cosmedin, a church where the Bocca della Verita, or Mouth of Truth, is located. Legend has it if someone sticks their hand into the mouth of truth and lies, the mouth will close on their hand, causing some serious damage! I put my hand in there, but I didn't dare lie!
I then took a long walk from the southeastern part of the city to the northwest to see the Trevi Fountain. The largest of it's kind, I knew I was getting close when I started hearing the flowing water. Sure enough, the sound got louder and after one final turn I had a full view of the fountain.
As it started to get dark, I made my way back to the hostel (this took about 45 minutes, Rome being as big as it is). On the way, I stopped at a church I had passed earlier - San Pietro in Vincoli. Inside this church sits a statue of Moses sculpted by Michelangelo himself. It was an amazing piece of work and well worth a look. My problem with the church was that it was very dark around the statue, and you had to put in a coin to turn on a light for photos. Kind of a cheap trick.
I got back and made myself some dinner. There happened to be a huge supermarket near the hostel, it was great! After that, I went back into Rome at night (as I do with every city) to see what happens at night. My camera has some trouble with night photos, but I tried for some of the Colosseum and some of the plazas. What an awesome day!