This is the second part of my Roman Adventure travel diary and as such it picks up right where we left off last time. If you haven’t had a chance to read the first one, you can do so here: Day 1. Go ahead, we’ll be here when you get back.
Sunday morning rolled around far too quickly for my liking and after getting ready we were down in the breakfast room, ready to fill our bellies and start our day: one of the busiest on the schedule. Before I go on I’d just like to take a moment to say that everyday of the trip, the breakfast buffet was absolutely delicious! Pastries, croissants, cereal, toast, coffee, tea, yoghurt, you had the whole lot to choose from and it was all fantastic. Getting back to the point, we made sure to swipe a few rolls and some prosciutto and cheese to make ourselves a quick lunch as we still hadn’t been able to find a shop that was open past 14:30 on a Saturday – that’s the trouble with visiting a Roman Catholic country!
After our breakfast crimes had been committed we were hopping onto the metro and heading off in the direction of the Colosseum, our first destination. On the way, we decided to try and find some form of shop as we had realised that we had no water for the day. Stumbling upon a small kiosk shop just opening up we were lucky enough to grab a few bottles to last us the day and headed back to the Colosseum to go and pick up our tickets.
In true Italian organisational form, you have to turn up an hour before your pre-booked tour in order to pick up your tickets in enough time. Luckily, this gave us a chance to wander around the Colosseum and take all the pictures that we wanted, removing the need to have to “Snap and Run” during the tour. My first thought, and one that continued throughout the whole day was “Oh my goodness this place is absolutely huge!”. It’s shocking to think that the Romans managed to build this before mechanisation, in an age before the smartphone and twitter, and blogging. Just look at what we could do if we got rid of all of our distracting technology!
There were also exhibits of sculptures and artefacts found in and around or relating to the history of the Colosseum on display on the upper floors. Again, it was absolutely astounding to see what a single civilization could achieve, albeit over a large period of time!
In time, our tour rolled around and we were treated to a lovely potted history of the Colosseum with some interesting facts being conveyed to us, such as the historically innaccurate repairs made to a section of the seating by Mussolini during the fascist regime. All in all, it was a breathtaking experience and if you’re ever in Rome, this has got to be on the top of your to do list! No exceptions!
After stopping for lunch, we headed to the Palatine, one of the Seven Hills of Rome and previously a key area of Roman culture. Adjoining the Palatine area, the Roman Forum looms tall, along with the Arch of Septimus Severus, emperor of Africa and the old Roman senate house. All of this is absolutely huge, and there’s plenty to see, including the grave of Julius Ceaser, just a short stroll away from the area that he was murdered and betrayed.
If all of the history in the forum area isn’t enough for you, you can do as my sister and I did and wander up into the Palatine area which includes the temple of Romulus, Augustus’ house and the House of the Vestal Virgins. You could easily spend all afternoon pottering about this place, admiring the stonework and the vision that went into creating such a civilisation. I know a lot of people rave about the ancient Egyptians but I think the Romans are definitely my favourite ancient civilisation!
Unfortunately, despite witnessing firsthand the splendours of Ancient Rome, today was the day that the trip started to take a turn for the worse, with my sister succumbing to intense pain in her tooth and gum, which began to swell up quite badly. This prompted our late afternoon to be spent walking to a 24/7 pharmacy in search of some strong painkillers and possibly some antibiotics. Again, unfortunately, my sister suffered so badly that she didn’t even want to face walking to the metro line and then to the pharmacy so after taking her back to the hotel and much convincing her, I set off alone into the centre of Rome armed only with a few translated phrases and a pocketful of “emergency euros” (Yes, we are THAT prepared).
For those of you that don’t know me, I’m not particularly adventurous. I was never a climber of trees and I’ve never felt the urge to travel to exotic and far flung reaches of the earth just to see what they’re like. I’m quite content to sit at home with a good meal and a good book and a nice cup of tea. In fact, the best way to sum this up is with this quote from The Hobbit:
…No use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”
Fast forward just under an hour and I strolled happily into the hotel with a bag containing some strong painkillers, and the recommendation that if it gets any worse we should go back and talk to the pharmacist again.
I felt a lot more confident in myself after this solo jaunt. I had successfully navigated a completely alien city and by the time I was hopping on the tram to come back to the hotel I was moving about the place like I’d been there for years, not just about a day! In that moment, Rome felt more like home to me than London ever has, I suddenly realised that I loved everything about the place and, even though I am a country boy at heart, I could quite happily start a life living in that city.
The rest of the night passed pretty quickly with us popping to the ristorante across the road and getting to indulge in my all time favourite pasta dish: lasagne. All I can say is phew! Do those Italians know how to cook or what!?
After a tiring and surprising day, it was time to flop back into bed, hoping that Ali’s tooth would feel better by morning and wondering what tomorrow would bring with our next action packed day trip looming!
But you’ll have to wait until next time for that, I’m afraid…