Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rome, Italy - Day 3 (Ancient Rome)

hile Todd and Amy were still on a mission to find Amy's luggage, Josh and I did a tour of Ancient Rome.  We started off the day walking towards the Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II. 

Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II - view both at day and at night.  We heard that this is also called the "wedding cake".

Close up view of the Monument

From there we picked up a tourist bus - yes a tourist bus... but how else could we see what we wanted to stop at later on the day?  When time is of the essence don't discount these buses - you totally get a quick view of what there is to see and then you can determine what it is that you want to spend your time going back to or not. 

View of the Vatican from the tour bus.

More views of the Vatican from the tour bus.  Look at these crowds??

We actually got off the bus in Piazza Navona and did some more walking.  Our goal for our walk?  Not to see an ancient Roman ruin... but to get Gelato!!  Actually first we needed to get some lunch but we wanted to be in close proximity to the famous Giolitti's for gelato! 

Lunch was our best meal in Rome to date - I wish I had the name of the place to refer it to others but later in the day after Todd and Amy found the missing luggage I gave Todd the business card with the name so they could go there.  But it was melt in your mouth delicious.  A fantastic caprese salad for me along with homemade gnocci.  And Josh had Maine lobster (it was definitely not a Mediterranean lobster because those are more spikey) with fresh homemade pasta.... mmmmmmm.... I would go back there in a heartbeat!

But leaving room we were off to Giolitti's!  We read about this place in our tourist book and had done a walk by the night before (but it was way too packed to go in).  When you look at the picture, it reminds me of Michael's Pastries in the North End of Boston.  The lines are ridiculous here but they carry around 100 flavors of gelato and unlike when you go to places here in Spain (from what I've found so far) and in the US - you pick the size cone or cup you want, and then you can pile on as many flavors as you want until they tell you it's enough.  So worth the extra calories!  And considering Josh and I walked from 10AM - 4:30PM that day (and then again later on in the evening), I'd say we walked it all off!

After Giolitti's we were supposed to meet Todd & Amy at the Colosseum but they were still on luggage search so we went over by ourselves.  It was not far from where we had started our day at the Vittorio Monument - you could actually see it peaking from behind the monument!  However on our way to the Colosseum we also walked by the Roman Forum. 
This was on our way to the Forum and Colosseum - not sure if you can see it but there is grass growing out of the top of the rotunda.  Very sad if you ask me... and very reminisent of our next door neighbors on the cape!

 Walking towards the Forum and some of the pictures you can catch a glimpse of the Colosseum in the background.

The Roman Forum has remains from 2000 years ago which includes temples, courts and monuments.  The remains are skeletal in most areas but given it's an archaeological site, we didn't expect it to be in perfect condition. 

Above are all pictures of the Roman Forum and the surrounding area - amazing to think that most of these ruins are around 2000 years old!

More Roman Forum with the "Wedding Cake" in the background

More of the Forum area

Wall of maps - these are stone maps that are engraved.  Each ones shows a progression in map-making capabilities over the years.  I don't even understand how map makers do it now much less how they were able to do them in these days without using of sonar or aerial capabilities.

Colosseum outside view.  It is absolutely enormous in person!  Built in 80 A.D.!

Palatine Hill - sadly this is all we saw of it.  After walking all day we just didn't have the energy to see this too and the Colosseum was higher on our priority list.

 Arch of Septimius Severus - built in 3rd century AD, it was to celebrate the emperor's triumph in Parthia.

Josh and I decided to do a tour of the Colosseum.  First off the line to get in was ridiculous and by joining a tour group (for an extra 10 euros each) we went right to the front of the line.  And secondly this was a place we were most definitely interested in learning more about.  I most definitely would do a tour again now that I've done one like this.  He helped us put everything in perspective rather than just walking around admiring old bricks ;) 

View of the inside walkway.  There were 80 entrances / exits to the Colosseum (they currently only use 2 to control crowds and make sure everyone pays!) and they could fill or empty the stadium which held 65,000 patrons in 15 minutes! 

On the right this was at one point a staircase.  We were told that many of the staircases had not in fact decayed but had actually been stolen!

More interior shots

While most of the flooring we walked upon was not original, the marble in fact is.  Hard to believe we were walking over 2000 year old marble!

Not the original stage.  This was installed for a concerts that have been performed in recent years.

At one point there was a floor covering these tunnels.

View from the Colosseum

This is the Arch of Titus in the background with columns from the Roman Forum in the foreground.  The Arch was built in 81AD to celebrate the sack of Jerusalem.

We finally met up wtih Todd and Amy around 4:30 and they had finally found the missing luggage!  However, unfortunately for them, they lost an entire day and still wanted to tour around a bit.  So agreeing to meet up with them for dinner, they were off and running.  Josh and I took a little break and then attempted some shopping (he was more successful than I was which is just criminal in this fashion mecca!).  After a few drinks at the Irish bar we found, we met up with them at the "Wedding Cake" in order to head over to the neighborhood of Trastevere for dinner.  The next time we come to Rome I'd like to spend some more time in this area as it's much less touristy and very quaint.  I have to say that I had what is probably one of the best pizzas ever that night!  Ahhhh, if only I could take the food of Rome with me back to Barcelona.  I enjoy the city life of Barcelona much more compared to Rome but most definitely like the food of Rome much much better!!

After a fantastic dinner, we headed back to our hotel but not before stopping at the Fountain at the base of the Spanish Steps where both Josh and Todd (perhaps a few bottles of wine into the evening) felt the need to taste the water and let us know if in fact it is the sweetest water in Rome.  I think the wine affected their taste buds because they couldn't say if it is true or not.

Before I end my blog entry for Rome, I need to add in these pictures below of the Cows of Roma.  Similar to the Whales of Cape Cod, these are local artists renditions that are on display thruout the city.  I took these pictures mainly because I knew that Aidan would get a kick out of them since he always like the Whale in WoodsHole. 

Next big trip for us (without kids) is Paris in July - can't wait!!


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