Nutella doughnuts for breakfast
I awoke with the cold this morning. The curtains dancing in the wind. I got up to close the window and grabbed the computer on the way back. It was 0630 but I was awake. I was checking and rechecking the flights and bookings we have when I noticed I made a mistake with the days I had booked here in Rome and in Athens. We were booked here a night we would be in Athens and were missing a night in Athens. I panicked a little wondering what Shane would think of his absent minded wife. I guess I was bound to make that mistake because we have been booking so fast that the numbers all run together. I sent off an email to our Athens hostel right away hoping they could accommodate us an extra night and then woke Shane up begging for forgiveness.
First glimpse of the Colosseum
We sorted through a few emails and sent one to Barbara asking if she could PLEASE not charge us for the night we wouldn’t be here. We then left for breakfast. Breakfast is included in our stay here at the cafe beside the building. A cappuccino and a pastry. I don’t understand how Italians eat so little in the morning. Maybe that explains their crankiness...or maybe they are still full from all the pasta the night before! We ate our breakfast while a gentleman played the slot machines beside us at 0830.
ALL OF THE FOLLOWING PICTURES ARE OF THE ROMAN FORUM OR PALATINE HILL
We decided on walking to Palatine hill and the Roman Forum to get a sense of direction in this city. Our first sighting of the colosseum, only a 10 minute walk from our front door, took our breath away. We were giddy with excitement. We bought out joint tickets (Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and the Colosseum for 12 euros each) and an audio guide to share. We spent 3.5 hours trying to understand and navigate our way around the Roman Forum and the Hill. It was very interesting, but kept us wondering what things actually were. If ever you visit the Forum or the Hill I highly recommend you skip the audio guide because it is not very informative and instead download a free (or paid) podcast for your ipod and take it around, I’m sure it would be much more useful than the guide we had.
We were getting very hungary around 1230, so we left the park. We walked to a pizzeria we had high hopes for, that was about a 20 minute walk away from where we were. When we made it there we saw that it was closed. Bummer!!! We walked over the bridge into the Trastevere neighborhood, which is a lovely place to be. It’s awfully historical with twisted streets and an old church in every piazza. We ate lunch at a restaurant we chose on a whim (always sketchy.) We chose it because we saw the forno (wood burning oven) through it’s windows. We each had a pizza, of course, which turned out to be a very good decision. It was delicious!
We kept on walking towards a place we had in mind, Biscotti Artigiano Innocenti. We had heard reviews of gruff service and were feeling rather unpleasant about it. The experience turned out to be a very good one and we left with a little bag full of cookies for 2.40 euros. What a steal, we plan to return.
when "when in rome" does not apply
the circus maximus used to be here
Our sightseeing for the day was far from over, so on our way back we walked by the Circus Maximus, where they used to hold chariot races, it’s little else but a valley now, nothing of the grand stadium which held 350 000 people, that it used to be. We walked until we reached the Colosseum, which after lunch was full with mobs of tourists. Thankfully however the cruise ship tours had left, those are the worst kind of tour groups. We skipped all the lines because we had tickets already and walked right inside. It was a sight to behold. My words will never come close to describing what you see. It was far bigger than it looked from the outside. To imagine what it looked like 2000 years ago was incredible. Where rough staircases are you can imagine 5 levels of seating above. Where the floor is open to the basement you can imagine an elaborate set above and 100s or 1000s of wild (or tame) animals below. Where there is only words to describe you can imagine the torture and pain inflicted on the unfortunate.
is this really worth keeping?
We spent well over an hour combing through the many piece of information before our eyes. We decided we were getting tired so we took the metro a few stops, until we got to the Spanish steps. We found a place to get some coffee, it was 1630. The place we walked into was overwhelmingly busy. We stood right in the center by a wall reading the menu. In two columns there are two prices (which we are used to). One for the bar and one for a table. We were VERY glad we read it before we sat down and ordered our standard two espressos. At the bar we would pay .80 a shot, at the table...2.50 per espresso!!! The two iced cappuccinos we ordered at the bar for 3.60 (for both) were at the table, double in price. Needless to say we enjoyed our refreshments standing.
We sat people watching for 45 minutes until 1730 when we started along with a huge group of people for a free walking tour of Rome. The tour was amazing. Super amazing! Andrea was our guide and he was super funny and informative. We were a little leery of going on a free tour, as you might be, but it was well worth the 10 euro tip we gave him. He took us in two churches we would otherwise not have seen. One, our favourite, was called the Sant’Ignazio. It had the most beautiful frescos we’ve ever seen. When you stand underneath the ceiling in the center looking up, the painting creates an optical illusion that the roof opens right up into the heavens. Our guide told us it was painted by Andrea Pozzo a Italian Jesuit brother and mathematician in the 1650s. We hope we get to see more of his work.
our favourite ceiling ever
The highlight of our trip was the Pantheon. We had been only following the tour, having no understanding of where we were exactly and suddenly we were inside. It’s unmistakable with the paneled roof and large gaping hole in the center. Andrea told us that the Romans used arches in much of their building including this one, which was built in 8 years, 126 years after Christ’s death. How could you not be in awe of that? Such a large building, built in the shape of a sphere in only 8 years without the use of modern technology. The Romans were brilliant.
When the tour finished we took our guide’s suggestion and had dinner at a spaghetteria close to the Tervi fountain. The service we had was atrocious, only scowls all of dinner, in fact our server did not say one word to us the entire time, only grunts! But the food was fantastic value. We had a 1/2 bottle of house wine, bruschetta to start, lemon veal and an amazing plate of spaghetti for 30 euros. Awesome! We found the gelato place Andrea recommended for dessert and polished our ice cream off quickly because we had a metro to catch and it was due to close at 2230.
at the Trevi fountian
When we got to the station at 2215 we found that the metro closed at 2100 for most of the stops on the line we needed due to construction. We were forced to take the most dangerous bus I’ve ever been rattled to death in, which tossed us around as it sped around corners and slammed on brakes, thankfully it dropped us off in front of our door.
All in all we spent our day doing the most touristy activities possible, but loved every second of it. There is a reason so many people come to Rome, and it isn’t the service, it’s because of the surprise and history hidden around every corner!