Monday, May 28, 2007

Day Two - Ancient Rome

Well, this isn't exactly in order, but here is Day Two. I didn't have a chance to write it until now.

First, let me explain that everything in Rome is crowded. This has to be the most visited city in the world. Now, I’m sure I’ll feel the same way about the rest of the cities we visit, but for now, lets just say that Rome is the most visited city in the world, and that all of the people who visit visit in May. There are lines and massive amounts of people EVERYWHERE.

Thanks to some research before hand, I knew that you don’t buy tickets to the Coliseum at the Coliseum…you buy them at Palatine!! So, we purchased tickets at Palatine Hill, for both Palatine and the Coliseum. We booked tours and were good to go for the day! We went to the Coliseum first. It was a good thing we didn’t try to buy tickets there, because there was a 2 hour ticket line. We walked straight to the front, and entered right in time for the 9;15 tour. The tour was pretty good. There is so much history in the building that you really have to go on a tour to understand what you are looking at. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on your view) I don’t remember all of the history we learned, so I cannot repeat it here.

We wandered the Coliseum and then went to Palatine Hill. That was amazing. These ruins are thousands of years old. Most of the remaining ruins belonged to a Roman Emperor, I think named Dionysian or something like that. The ruins are of his palace. The buildings were impressively large. They were impressive to us, and we are used to big buildings. I cannot imagine how impressive they were to people visiting Rome in the first century AD (or earlier, in the case of some buildings.)

After the tour of Palatine Hill, we took a tour of the Roman Forum. We walked down Via Sacra, which was the main road in Rome for a while about 2000 years ago. Most of the stones are still the originals. It is pretty humbling to realize that you are standing on stones that have been there for 2000 years, and have been walked on by who knows how many people throughout history. That is why I titled my post the other day “I feel young.” If any of you out there feel old…just spend a day at the Forum.

I cannot even begin to tell you what was there. There were several temples and basilicas from the earliest centuries AD. The guide did a great job describing what the buildings where like originally. Now, of course, they are ruins, so you only get an idea of the size by looking at them. I’ll post a few Forum pictures for you to see.

I do have one complaint about Rome. There are no signs on any tourist attraction!! It was a good thing that we had a tour of the Forum and Palatine, because otherwise, we would have absolutely no idea what we were seeing. They don’t even have maps available. I have no idea why they can’t put up a few signs to tell you what things are. Even in the museums, there are no signs next to paintings and sculptures. You just have to guess. It is just slightly frustrating.

Anyway, we were amazed by the ruins and spent the entire day in them. In addition to everything above, we went to the Caracala Baths. It was basically a huge bathing area, that catered to 3000 people daily. It was gigantic. The pools were filled by the aqueduct system.

That night, we ate at Rosa Rosa restaurant, which I think Rose already mentioned. After dinner, we were exhausted and looking forward to an early night to bed. Much to our ( and our legs’ ) dismay, it didn’t happen. We walked several blocks west toward the nearest metro station (which wasn’t so near) and found it closed!! It was only 9 at night! We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t want to pay for a taxi, and we didn’t know how the busses worked, so we decided to walk. Our walk took as back toward where we ate, across most of Rome, across the Tiber, through the Vatican, until finnaly we arrived. It was a long walk. I think it was at least 4 miles…at night…in the dark…with crazy people everywhere. Ok, maybe they weren’t exactly crazy. The good thing, is that we crossed the Tiber at night, which was very pretty. We also stopped for gelato…again… Mmmmmm. It was so good. I think it was worth the four mile walk.

We were so happy to take a shower and go to bed that night. Then…up for St. Peter’s!

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