I can hardly believe that my trip to Rome was four months ago. I wrote about the first day here and here, and I really have no excuse for not writing about day two sooner, but here goes. I can relive it, since everyone else seems to be going on holiday at the moment!
After our day spent mainly in the Vatican City, it was time to see the many monuments of Rome itself. Now, we started off well, buying a ticket for the Colosseum/Palatine Hill/the Forum at the Palatine Hill entrance on Via di San Gregorio. There was no queue at all (it had just opened) and we went straight in. We were aiming to visit the Colosseum first, before it got too busy. However, despite the combination ticket, the Colosseum is separate. We found ourselves at turnstiles and thought we were heading ‘through’ to the Colosseum, but as it transpired this was heading ‘out’. It wasn’t until we went back to the Forum that we discovered our five-minute walk through the ruins that morning was considered our visit. There’s no re-entry (but this must happen all the time), so I had to sweet-talk a guy at the desk in some terrible, Scottish-accented Italian to get our tickets validated again. So, while I recommend buying your ticket at an entrance other than the Colosseum, stay outside of the Forum/Palatine Hill and go there first!
As I say, the Colosseum had just opened, and it was incredibly busy – not half as busy as when we left, though. Visit early if you can! It was another beautiful morning when we visited and we got some good photographs. I found it near impossible to imagine the history of the place, but I enjoyed reading about it on the various information boards dotted around. Be careful, though – the stairs are very steep! After buying some awesomely tacky souvenirs in the gift shop, we went back to the Forum.
Some of the stonework was so detailed:
There were even traces of old designs and lettering on the walls and broken stone:
After we made our way back inside, we spent a while going around the ruins and taking photographs. Again, it was difficult to grasp just how ancient everything was, and to think about the people who lived and worked here centuries and centuries ago. It is brilliant that this has been conserved.
The day before, a bright white building with winged chariots on its roof kept catching my eye, and when we had explored the Forum and Palatine Hill we found it was close by. It turned out to be the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of united Italy. It was lovely and cool inside compared to the hot day, but we discovered there was a lift to the roof (€9 each) and we couldn’t resist getting more views of the city, so we headed up.
Now, we were seriously hungry, so we started towards the Spanish Steps via the Pantheon and decided we would stop at the first restaurant we liked the look of. We found a place called Ristorante Life, where we got mimosas and amazing lasagne.
We then went to the Spanish Steps. I’m not sure if there is a nice, quiet time to see these, but it wasn’t late afternoon on a Saturday! They are very pretty though.
I was pleased that my friend was happy to visit the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, because it was one of the more unusual places on the itinerary that I was really keen to visit. This was where John Keats spent the last months of his life, and the house has been turned into a museum for him, Shelley and Byron. The short tour begins with three videos, before you go upstairs to visit the rooms and see the books and other items gathered here.
There was another famous monument we hadn’t yet seen, of course: the Trevi Fountain. Unfortunately, the fountain is undergoing some serious maintenance, and there is no water in the body of it. There was a bridge set up so you can cross the fountain and see the statues at the centre, and a small pool into which you can toss a coin to see if you will be coming back to Rome one day. I need to go back so that I can see the fountain at its best!
If we had planned this further, we might have done things in a different order, as we then walked back to the Spanish Steps, which we climbed in order to climb another hill: the Pincian Hill. We thought we might watch the sunset from here, but it was too light too late and we got hungry, so we decided to find somewhere for dinner.
We walked about halfway back to the hotel and stopped in Campo de’ Fiori. It is famous for its market, which was mostly closed when we arrived, but all I was after was a giant plate of pasta and luckily you are never far from those in Italy! I managed to resist the temptation of the restaurant simply called La Carbonara (amazing) because Mercato Hostaria had outdoor tables plus large heaters, and I was starting to feel it a bit cool.
We ordered a bottle of Prosecco, I got another carbonara (better than that of the first day, but still not the best) and we spent hours just sitting chatting. The menu provided the excellent translation of ‘Torta della casa’ as ‘Cake house’, which was hilarious.
We might have only had one full day there, but it was obvious why Rome is one of the most famous cities in the world. It is beautiful and interesting, completely full of history, and, as much as we saw in the short time we had, I definitely want to go back.
P.S. The history never stopped! In the taxi on the way back to the airport, our taxi driver pointed out that the random pyramid we had walked past each morning was over 2000 years old. This was the only shot I got of the Pyramid of Cestius. A month later, the pyramid began to open to the public every second and fourth Sunday of the month.