Rome, ruins and history
Trip Start Jun 01, 2010
158Trip End Mar 11, 2011
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We had our breakfast in the hotel as it was included in our package. And after we headed out to explore 2000 years of history. First we walked around the Roman Forum as the hotel was located on the back of it. The forum was the place where it all happened back in the days. It was the marketplace as well as the place of government. Every Roman that meant something in the city was here to do businesses. We did not go inside yet, but instead headed up to the Captoline hill and walked over the Piazza del Campidoglio and down the famous steps. The Piazza and the stairs were designed by Michelangelo in 1536. The stairs headed down to Piazza Venezia which is the center of Rome. It is basically a big traffic circle with a piece of grass in the middle. On the edge we found the monument of Victor Emanuel II monument. This is a huge white building in the shape of a type writer. On top of it, it has two chariots and with the God, Nike, standing on the chariots. You would think it is one of the roman remains, but it's not. It's the result of the ego of the first Italian king. At the monument we also found the grave of the unknown soldier. Out of respect for the grave you are not allowed to rest on the monument. A couple of police men whistle furiously when you try to sit down on the stairs. You must have done something horribly wrong as a police man, to be assigned to guard the stairs from foreign butts.
As we walked down to Piazza Novana we passed a great deal of historic landmarks. But we had our mind set on some food. In an issue of Budget travel we found a great little place somewhere behind the Piazza. Linda had marked the spot on her map and navigated us through the streets of Rome. We were lucky as we got the last table in this small crowded restaurant. It was more the experience than the food that made this place. The food was your typical pasta and pizzas. But it was all reasonably priced and there were not too many tourists around.
After lunch we walked down to the square. We both have worked up quite an addiction to espresso, so we stumbled into the first cafe we saw and indulged on a small black cup of tar. With out addiction fixed, we opened our eyes again to the beauty of the city. But I should have looked down instead of up, as I slightly twisted my ankle when walking out of the coffee shop. This forced us to sit down for a bit, so we sat at the square, and enjoyed the artworks of the street artists and of course the three fountains.
As we walked along the streets we were kind of overwhelmed with the roman history. We both had tired feet and it was warm. And we started to get a bit grumpy. On every corner there was something to see, but we realized it would be madness to try to see it all. So we gave up trying. Instead we entered into the first place with AC and enjoyed a fruit smoothy. We decided that the one thing we must visit was the Colosseum, and preferably late in the afternoon as the light for photos would be best.
To save our feet and our restored mood, we took a taxi up to the former 'Circus'. When we were about to join the 45 minute queue to get out tickets, a tour guide outside asked us to join her tour group. We took the chance and paid the 8 euros more. The big advantage was that we could skip all lines and have some one with us that could tell us about the Colloseum and it's history. It turned out to be a very good decision. Inside you will find no information what-so-ever. The only option to learn a bit would have been to rent an audio guide. Our guide was very informative and explained the history of the site to us with passion. If you want to know more about that, just look it up on Wikipedia I am not going to recite his words now. One thing that was quite interesting though and worth mentioning - the whole thing has been stripped to what it is now by the church. Why? To crush the marble and make cement, to build churches. Recycling, roman style.
After our tour we were offered to join another tour for free. The tour went out to see the [Palatio] hill and get some information of the Roman Forum. It was a great experience, and on the hill even more than in the Colosseum, you need a guide. Otherwise it would just be a pile of rocks that you walk by in 10 minutes. Our tour guide, David, was very entertaining. We had a great deal of sarcasm, which I can appreciate. He helped us imagine what it all looked like in the past. At the end of the tour David instructed us to literally conquer a small balcony that overlooked the Forum. From here he could explain to us what was down there. Our group was about 30 people big, so we used group intimidation techniques to scare other tourists of the balcony. It was hilarious and good fun. All under the motto, when in Rome, act like the romans, be as rude as you want to be.
After our tour of the Palatio hill the light was perfect for shots of the Colosseum so we snapped a few. We also signed up for another tour, that will show us around the Vatican tomorrow.
From the Colosseum we walked back to the Hotel where we researched a place to eat for the evening. We first asked the receptionist of the Hotel, but he was not very helpful as he was clearly in a hurry to do something else. So we relied on old faithful tripadvisor. We found a placed close to the trevi fountains that had good reviews, so we tried that one out.
The food was OK, lets leave it at that. It was very quiet in the restaurant. After dinner we walked to pick-pocket central, the trevi fountains. Guarding our belongings like hawks we enjoyed the fountains and found ourselves a spot in the corner where we sat for a while and enjoyed the moment. Here we were not invaded by sri-lankan guys trying to sell roses.
Back at the hotel we try to get an early night as tomorrows tour leaves quite early. We did not succeed at such, as it was well after midnight when we turned off the lights.