Rome was the last leg of our Italian adventure and we spent three days there. I underestimated the size of Rome. I assumed that Rome city blocks were tiny like London and Prague city blocks. I was very wrong. The city blocks in Rome are more like city blocks in the States. Rome is far too large to get around easily on foot. Additionally, the tourist sites are very spread out and every restaurant we chose to dine at was not accessible by Metro, so we ended up taking taxis often.
The weather on our first day in Rome was perfect was a godsend because that was the day we toured the Colosseum and Roman Forum. We opted for a guided tour with Urban Adventures (no longer offered) and I’m so happy that we did because the experience would have been completely different without our guide, who shall remain nameless because we don’t remember her name.
As luck would have it, there were only two other people in our tour group, so we were able to easily move along through the sites without having to wait for group members to take photos, etc.
The Colosseum was truly amazing. I could have spent all day walking around and exploring it. Our guide told us that it was built in roughly 10 years. This was mind blowing. I can’t imagine the engineering that existed back then to allow such a massive project to be completed in such a short period of time. She stated that during that time, building materials (marble and stone) were often stolen from older buildings and structures for use in new buildings/structures and that was the case with the construction of the Colosseum.
The man in our tour group, “Bob,” asked why the exterior appeared to be “pitted” and our guide explained that when the Colosseum was built, the individual stones were held together by iron ties and while stone and marble were plentiful in the region, iron was not and the iron ties were later dug out of the exterior to be used in other projects.
When asked why one-half of the Colosseum was shorter than the other half, our guide explained that people had started to remove the stones from the Colosseum for use with other buildings/structures. It was only after the Colosseum was deemed a holy place that people were no longer allowed to alter it (steal from it). Deeming the Colosseum a holy place essentially preserved it.
After our tour of the Colosseum, we crossed the road and visited the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum is an area of land containing Roman ruins. Archaeology work is still actively carried out in the Roman Forum.
One of the most interesting sites on the grounds of the Roman Forum were the ruins of a Roman bath. Water from a river or stream would flow into the bath and then the water was heated with burning logs. The steam from the hot water was used to heat the stone around the bath (imagine a pool with heated decking). I was amazed at how sophisticated it was!
Our tour concluded with a glass of wine at a nearby cafe. Our tour guide walked us to the cafe and then literally ran off into the sunset, leaving us with the two other tour mates. It was as awkward and uncomfortable as it sounds.
The following day was a waste of a day, really. It was cold and rainy and simply just miserable outside. Peter and I decided to buy tickets for a hop on, hop off bus tour and wow, that turned out to be a huge mistake and waste of money. This is one of the downsides to not being “museum people” is that when the weather is shit, we find ourselves with nothing to do.
Due to the shitty weather, traffic was backed up, so buses were running extremely late and once we boarded the bus, we basically just sat in traffic. Tired of sitting in traffic for 30 minutes, we hopped off at a stop near the Trastevere area of Rome and ate lunch. The rest of a day is a blur – the only thing I remember is being completely miserable in my cold, soaking wet socks and shoes.
On our final full day in Rome, we visited Trevi fountain and the Pantheon. Trevi fountain was more intriguing than I thought it would be and now I understand why it is one of the most famous fountains in the world. I thought it was going to be a giant fountain in the middle of a piazza or something like that. Well, it is a giant fountain in the middle of a piazza but it was not freestanding – it is built into the side of a building.
The Pantheon was nothing what I imagined and it was a bit disappointing. I wonder if I will regret blazing through some of these sites in the future.
After our trip to the Pantheon, we treated ourselves to gelato from Il Gelato di San Crispino which is the gelato shop featured in the movie, Eat, Pray, Love. The gelato was great but the portion size was very stingy. Boo!
Overall, Rome was OK. The crappy weather really played a factor as we were limited in what we were able to see and do. If we were to go back to Rome, we’d go during a more pleasant time of year and spend most of our time in the Trastevere area. Trastevere is where all the great little restaurants, cafes, and shops are located.
Will we go back to Italy? Yes, if time permits, however, we would visit different regions, specifically southern Italy.
What did we learn from being in Italy for 11 days? We learned that trips of this length are really not our cuppa tea and that it’s maybe better to do multiple trips for shorter durations.