My first full day in Rome involved loads of walking, I suspect this final full day will as well. Day 3’s breakfast made use of the half price voucher provided by my B&B, bringing the meal of a ham and cheese omelette, salad, toast, jam, and orange juice to €7 (down from €14). It was not worth €7 (a little over US$9), and a definite rip-off if full price was €14. While the outrageous price might be attributed to its location in a tourist area, I wonder if they would charge friends or other locals the full, or even half price. I did like the sign for a nearby ethnic restaurant and its attempt at phonetic spelling.
The trip to the Colosseum was recounted in the last post. Check it out, then come back here for the rest of Rome.
Part of what makes Rome interesting is the mixture of ancient and modern. You have structures thousands of years old and a parking lot across the street. Major roads take you right past wonders of antiquity. I studied Latin all four years of high school (and passed the AP test). It hasn’t been as useful as many people expect. There may be the occasional recognizable root word in the sciences, but it didn’t help me at all with Italian. We read and translated texts, never spoke it, so conversations would be impossible.
The day’s two tours are with Dark Rome Tours again: morning at the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill, afternoon with the Best of Rome walking tour. I feel like I’ve been talking too much in these posts and only linking to photos (you have been clicking the links?), so this time I’m going to post photos with captions. Click on the photos to be taken to the Flickr page where you can see them full size. If you prefer the other style with more text narration, let me know. I’m also including lots of Wikipedia links. I would prefer a more official-looking webpage, but oftentimes, the Wikipedia entry has more information and detail.
Inside the Colosseum
You can pay more to gain access to the lower levels, and even take an underground tour (where the gladiators would await their fate).
The Forum was one of the most active and important public venues of ancient Rome.
Palatine Hill (this is also what I call my bed)
This was my third walking tour in Rome, and all three have had at least one Australian couple, and I was able to chat with them all during the tours. After this tour, I ended up having lunch with an older Australian couple several blocks away from the Colosseum. We stopped at a bar, where we noticed the menu mentioned that the pasta is made from frozen stores. The server told us that this is common at bars and cafes, because they are not full restaurants and don’t make their own pasta. Perhaps Italians are much more judgmental about their pasta, which makes sense, that requires such a disclaimer. If I hadn’t been told, I would never have known my lasagna was originally frozen, which probably meant the ingredients were frozen before reheating/cooking and assembly before serving.
By now you know what happened on the Metro in the morning. It certainly affected the way I approached crowded areas for the rest of my time in Italy. Heading in the direction of my B&B, but not all the way, was the meeting point for the Best of Rome afternoon tour. Piazza del Popolo, or People’s Square, is right next to the Flaminio Metro stop. This walking tour would take our group to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain (both of which also have their own Metro stops), the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona. Guess what? This tour included TWO Australian couples.
Spanish Steps and the fountain, second photo is the view when walking down said Steps
Trevi Fountain (from which I took a water sample)
The Oculus in the roof, and some info about Raphael’s grave
This tour left us in Piazza Navona, which I was told was too far to walk to a Metro station. Instead, it was recommended I take a bus to Roma Termini, then the A line as usual back to the B&B. I don’t mind walking far, as I was wary of all crowds, especially seeing how packed buses can get. I did it anyway, after skipping the first four buses because they got too full, but was extra cautious by keeping one hand in my phone pocket and the other hand dangling close to my wallet in the side pocket, without advertising that I was protecting something.
Tomorrow is my final day in Rome, and I have one tour left, a morning food tour. I thought about just showing up at the station to take the high speed train to Florence, but then read that I should probably reserve a ticket. The problem was that I couldn’t predict what time to schedule my ticket. I had considered just bailing on the food tour to get out of Rome as soon as possible, first thing in the morning, which would also give me more time in Florence, since I only had one full day there (shoulder days mean I don’t spend the full midnight-midnight period in the city). I would have to check out of my room and leave my luggage with them. The problem was their “office” was simply the kitchen, which was accessible to all guests, and their version of “stored luggage” was to hide it behind a curtain. Then they also leave the building during the day, only being present in the morning to clean rooms, and the afternoon to check in a scheduled guest upon arrival. That sounded very insecure, and the best solution we could come up with was to store my luggage in their office bathroom, which was locked and only accessible to the administrators with a key, which I could borrow until I returned from my tour. Lastly, I estimated what time I might arrive after the tour, since I would be far away, even on the Metro (required line transfers at Termini), and added an hour in case something went wrong. The B&B allowed me to print out my ticket in case the email receipt on the phone wasn’t enough or readable. I prefer to get to places early, and this means I can be waiting at the airport gate for a full 2 hours before departure. I suppose I could start heading to the airport later and leaving less time between arrival at the airport and departure so that I’m not just wasting time sitting around. Fortunately, I don’t mind waiting in airports, or now in train stations, as long as I can have a place to sit or do some people watching.