Our visit to Rome today was a treat, since we were able to walk through the Colosseum and also explore the ruins of the Roman Forum. Best of all we were finally able to have legit non-touristy pasta, which was quite a nice change. Read on for the details!
We took the metro to the city center and already had a plan in mind: it would take us at least an hour to wait in line, and a lot of the exhibits/sites were poorly labeled so it would be hard to decipher among all the ruins. So we decided to shop around on site for a cheap guided tour, since we’d heard that a lot of tour groups camped outside and offered good deals.
The best deal was a 25 Euro skip-the-queue tour of the Colosseum with a bonus tour of Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum afterward. It was only 13 Euros more than getting a ticket itself, so we went for it and had no regrets, especially when we were walking past the long lines right into the magnificent structure.
And what a magnificent structure it was – I don’t think Gladiator does it justice, although visiting made me really want to re-watch the movie! The Colosseum was completed in the year 80 and housed over 50,000 spectators, hosting spectacular (and extremely bloody) gladiator battles, animal fights, and public executions. It’s still considered the largest amphitheater today and likely inspired much of the mega-sporting stadiums of modern times.
Staring at the surprisingly well-intact structure – including the different levels of seating and the system of tunnels beneath where the stage used to be – and listening to stories of animal fights and even naval battles, transported me to a stadium where 50,000 people gave thunderous applause and cheered for their favorite gladiators. Many of the gladiators must’ve been so pumped up and basking in their (final) glory. It was also hard to fathom the engineering feat behind this structure, which is still solid and standing after thousands of years.
The tour of Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum was equally impressive. Palatine Hill is one of the Seven Hills of Rome and is considered the spot where Romulus founded Rome. We saw the remains of ancient rooms of the Imperial Palace and found a good spot overlooking the ruins of the Roman Forum.
We got to walk among the ruins in the Forum, and it was a memorable experience. According to our guide, most of the ruins weren’t the result of natural forces – they were man-made when later empires stripped the buildings of precious materials such as marble. It wasn’t difficult to imagine a bustling center filled with politicians, the rich, and the poor in ancient Roman times.
The afternoon was really hot, but we managed to walk about a mile (with a quick stop to visit a museum housing the tomb of the unknown soldier) to Campo de’ Fiori, a famous marketplace, where we had an early dinner at an amazing pasta restaurant that made its own pasta. The owner was nice enough to take us through the menu and even shook our hands after the meal. The hand-rolled pasta was amazingly chewy and the sauce was great, too.
Fun and tiring day, and we’ve got the Vatican to visit tomorrow!
Stay tuned and read about my other adventures in London, Paris, Berlin, and Italy!
Steps taken: 18,722 | Miles walked: 6.20
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