Alive in History
Today is History Day.
Where Naples was about the food and La Dolce Vita, Rome is othe place where we are going to connect to civilizations past.
After a pretty good rest in our little ground floor apartment, we get up, make some coffee, and get going, because we have a date with history!
First, we head toward the Colosseum. Yesterday, we bought the Rome Card, which gives us unlimited bus and metro rides along with free entry to two tourist sites and discounts on all the rest. It's only good for the first two sites you see, so it makes sense to use it on the most expensive. The ticket to the Colosseum includes the Forum and the Palatine Hill, so we start here. The other thing the Rome Card does is that it allows us to skip the ticket line and go straight to the entrance. This is a real benefit, because the line is long… without the Rome Card, you might have to wait an hour or so to get in. Since we're in Rome only today and tomorrow, we don't have time for that!
It's so weird to be riding down the street, turn a corner, and wow, there's the largest amphitheater of the Roman Empire (built 70AD – 80AD) right in front of you! We zipped past the line of people waiting to buy tickets and went inside. It was easier than I thought to imagine the roaring crowds, the growls of the animals kept under the floor, and the clash of swords against armor as the gladiators fought, even among the throngs of tourists. We circled the top level, then the next level, enjoying a new perspective every 10 steps or so. We find the gift shop and buy matching Roman-style twisted bracelets, mine gold, Susie's silver.
From the Colosseum we walk over to the Forum, the city center of Ancient Rome. It's all ruins now, of course, but it was inspiring to walk over the same stones that Julius Caesar walked, to note the temples to the Gods were more numerous, but one government building could be the size of six or seven temples. Did you know that the first basilica was not built as a church, but as a place for people to do their civic business like pay their taxes and settle property disputes? The ruins of the Palatine (palace) hill overlook the ancient grounds.
We find a nice lunch a few blocks behind the Colosseum. It's late, almost 3pm, and many restaurants will not serve lunch between 3pm and 7pm, but there are enough people in this place that we are still served our wine, fizzy water, pasta, and lamb.
After lunch, we walk around the Forum to see the other side of the Capitoline Hill that towers over it. We pass by the wedding-cake of the Victor Emmanuel monument, built in 1885 to honor the first king of a unified Italy, which is a perfect complement to the weddings that are being celebrated on the hill above.
A stroll down the Via Corso, the main shopping street, and a right turn brings us to the Trevi Fountain. We blend in with the Saturday night crowds and each toss a coin over our shoulder to ensure that we return to Rome. There are 3000 coins tossed into that fountain every day, and I'm happy to say they are used to help the needy.
Time to head homeward. A stop for gelati is a must, though, and one of Rome's best gelaterias is on our way. No matter how small and inexpensive the cone, you always get two flavors. Here, they top it with whip cream, the real stuff, not Rediwhip. First you pay at the cash register, then you bring the receipt to the ice cream guys. Since we had a big, rather late lunch, this will serve for dinner.
Last stop, Piazza Navona, lined with restaurants facing the Bernini fountains. It's just starting to get dark and the lights are coming on. This is the perfect place to stroll with someone you love, holding hands. By this time, though, we are extremely tired and drag ourselves back to our apartment, where the internet that wasn't working yesterday was supposed to be fixed. Instead of a working modem we get a plate of cookies from the bakery as an apology. Well, we're exhausted anyway and have more to see tomorrow, so we put in our earplugs (necessary on this increasingly noisy Saturday night) and fall asleep.