Day five started like any other Wednesday. We got up early. We toured the Coliseum. Wait…
The Roman Coliseum
To be able to enter the Coliseum before all the crowds, we had to leave our hotel around 0800. The weather threatened rain but remained dry. The dark clouds made for some really cool pictures though! We skipped the line (woo!) with our tour guide, Linda, who was outstanding and headed inside. We ascended the grand staircase and were able to find an empty spot on the railing so we could overlook the massive amphitheater while hearing about its history.
A few facts:
- Gladiators were considered slaves but had the potential to win their freedom if they could survive long enough. Gladiators tended to be short and centrally obese to withstand blows from the trident. They were expensive to house and train, so it was beneficial to keep them alive.
- There was more happening in the arena than human to human combat. Large animals were brought from all over the world and were used in fights as well. They fought against other animals and humans, as well.
- There is a thought that the Coliseum was once flooded and used for naval battles; however, archeologists have recently decided this was a myth.
- Only 3,000 people are allowed inside the Coliseum at once
- The Coliseum was damaged by weather and natural disasters. During the 18th Century, much of the stone used to build the Coliseum was recycled by the Romans and used to create other building projects throughout Rome, including St. Peter’s Basilica. Read more about our trip to Vatican City here. During the 18th Century, various popes tried to save the arena, calling it a sacred religious site. However, restoration efforts didn’t begin until the 1990s.
The Forum and Palatine Hill
After soaking up the intense atmosphere of the Coliseum, we made our way through the Arch of Titus over to the Forum and the Palatine Hill. The Forum was the area in Ancient Rome where much of politics and socialization happened. It is now an area filled with ruins of shrines, temples, and triumphant arches. You can also find The House of the Vestal Virgins and the Temples of Caesar, and Vespasian and Titus on the Forum grounds. Overlooking the Forum is the Palatine Hill, the home of the aristocrats and emperors of ancient Rome and the site of the Palace of Domitian, the last member of the Flavian Dynasty.
Here is a cool walking tour video of the Forum:
Following the Coliseum and Forum tour, we had two options; a pasta-making class in Campo di Fiori or free time. Amanda and I decided to skip the pasta making class. If you’re interested in signing up for this class you can do so here. Instead, we took the free time as an opportunity to chill out at the hotel and get a nap in, since we were starting to look like zombies.
We decided to forgo the taxi and make a second go at the Roman public bus system. You can read about our first and third times in these posts. We, again, waited about an hour at the bus stop and were just about to give up (some of the other buses went by like five times!) when the bus FINALLY showed up. Apparently, the 63 bus goes to all of the major tourist attractions and takes forever to make its route. Travel tip** The buses don’t announce their stops or stop unless somebody pushes the stop buttons to alert the driver. Thanks to offline google maps (again, lifesaver) we were able to follow the bus on the map until we got near our hotel. We got off at the wrong stop but were at least within walking distance. Has anybody else had any interesting experiences with the bus system?
We spent the afternoon figuring out plans for our free time the next day (should we try to make it to Pompeii?), napping, and getting ready for another opportunity we had that evening to attend a Roman Opera.
The Roman Opera
The Roman opera aria was held at Tanagra Caffe Concerto and included the show, dinner (salad, risotto, two types of pasta, meat and potatoes, and tiramisu…holy), and wine. It was much less “stuffy” than larger-scale opera. It included a comedy aspect, as the singers interacted with the crowd and some of the more well-known opera songs. We broke up into groups and hopped into taxis to get to the show. Our group was last, and the driver had no idea where to go. We drove around the neighborhood several times while he kept repeating, “I don’t know.” He also wouldn’t let us use his phone to call Jason, finally, after stopping in the middle of the street, we spotted Jason, and we were able to make it to the show, 15 minutes late. The show was great, and one of the members of our group got called up on the stage to be a part of the last act.
We taxied back to the hotel and spent the night drinking wine. We also had to drink the leftover limoncello because we couldn’t take it with us since didn’t have any extra room in our suitcases. Considering how early we had to get up, we drank until way too late! Oh well . . . when in Rome, eh?
Big day tomorrow!