With some sleep into our systems (but not nearly enough!), we started out early to go to our half-day walking tour of the Colosseum and Ancient Rome. We had scheduled this before leaving the US, and let me tell you, it was well worth the money.
We met our tour group right outside of the Colosseum. When we booked, we didn’t have a choice in tour companies, but we had nothing to fear. The Dark Rome tour group is organized, professional, and very well put together. We were added to the red dot group, given headset devices so we could hear the tour guide no matter where we were in the group, and then introduced to our guide. His name was Damiano, and he told us to follow the red umbrella through the crowds. He also told us the Romans were bastards. In short, he was fabulous.I, on the other hand, was not so fabulous. The day of our flight out of Boston, I felt an extreme cold coming on. Last year, this was the cold that led to a serious sinus infection that made my teeth hurt when I ran. While I pumped up on vitamin C and cold pills, I wasn’t in tip-top shape. In spite of the heat and the sun, I tried to pull it together and managed to only feel like I was going to pass out once.
Damiano started us off with a tour through the Colosseum. If you are ever in Rome, you must do a tour through it. Sure, you could tour it yourself, but the information that an expert like Damiano can give was priceless. There are no signs in the Colosseum that talk about what kinds of animals the Romans imported to fight, like tigers, bears, and, yes, hippos. Plus, they had a full system of trapped doors under the stage to bring up props. Didn’t know that, did you?We went inside and outside of all of the areas tourists are allowed to go in. It was great! The stairs were ultra steep, but the Romans weren’t known for handicap accessibility. The engineering it must have taken to build such a structure is just incredible.
Our next stop was Ancient Rome, or specifically, the ruins. There are a ton of them, and while each is worth its own picture (which I probably took), I won’t bore you with all of them. I’ll simply show the highlights.
Rome is basically on two giant hills with a valley in between. No matter where you go, you must climb at least five flights of stairs. At the top of our five flights of stairs was this palace and its garden.I had to make sure the rings looked good with it too. They did.We then kept walking through more of the ruins. Churches, Pagan churches, places to burn bodies like Ceasar’s, market places, there was everything. When you see bricks, you must think of it covered in marble. Marble was taken away from these places a while ago to be used elsewhere, but it was the covering for almost all important surfaces. They even use colored marble, like this:After our tour ended, we decided to walk and see where we ended up. Now, this probably sounds risky, but in the middle of the day in the middle of Rome, there’s nothing to it. It’s one of the best ways to spend your time and see what’s really going on. We ended up finding a building devoted to the establishment of Italy’s current government. The building was totally made out of marble and was very heavily guarded, but fun to go into.There was a museum inside that recounted Italy’s involvement in different wars throughout history. It was very interesting to read their take on how World War II went down…
After that, we went on a walking tour. We found a cat sanctuary (more on this later),the Tiber River,the Jewish Ghetto,the Circus Maximus (where they raced chariots, as Mr. Library is demonstrating),and finally, we made it to the Free Rome Tour that took off from the Spanish Steps. We had read about it online, and while I didn’t read enough (I was improperly dressed to go into the churches since both my shoulders and knees were showing), it was a good tour.This column on the bottom is actually the pictorial history of the battle that appears in the first scenes of the movie Gladiator.
After our tour was over (it was a two hour tour), we were hungry for dinner. The tour guide had pointed out a restaurant that was not far from the Trevi Fountain and had said it was a place locals loved (aka not touristy with high prices). We tried it and found the food to be really good. They had at least 40 different kinds of spaghetti on the menu! Sign me up!
Exhausted and stuffed, we wandered back to our hotel, checked out the Trevi at night, and then went to bed. Tomorrow held a journey of the higher powers: the Vatican!
Where have we been?