Rome – Transatlantic 2009 Day 4 – Touring Rome

Yesterday was our first full day in Rome and boy did we get out and about in the town. We hoofed it around town to the tune of 6 or 7 miles of walking. It was a good full day and we saw some wonderful sites. The kids did a great job of keeping up.

Suzanne and I were up and about at our normal time of about 6 in the morning, but we let the kids sleep in until about 8 or so to make sure there were no ill effects of jet lag from the trip over. I cooked us a breakfast of eggs, bacon and sausage with some nice bread. Everyone must have been hungry because there wasn’t a scrap of anything left.

It was just past nine when we headed out for the day. First stop, the Collesium. Along the way we visited several smaller lesser known Forums (vs the Roman Forum) and also saw Trajan’s Market. The kids seemed quite interested in the ancient ruins and sites.

As we arrived at the Collesium, they both kind of had a ‘whoa’ statement as it is quite a site when you see it for the first time. Personally, I have toured the inside of the Collesium twice and Suzanne once. We debated getting a guided tour for the kids, but decided not too. After about a 20 minute wait in line, we had our tickets and walked around the behemoth. Sean was quite interested in the underground structures and tunnels beneath what would have been the Collesium floor. They used to have a walkway/platform that went across the Collesium but for some reason it was no longer there, so you were limited to walking around the forum where the seats for patrons would have been – not sure why it was removed as it gave you a better view of the ruins that would have been under the wooden floor. Most people assume that the Collesium floor would have been earthen, but it actually was wooden spanning a series of rooms and tunnels. The wood floor was covered with dirt or at times water for naval battles. Using a system of trap doors, they could more easily move sets, animals and humans into the Collesium for the shows/battles.

After the Collseium, we walked over to the nearby Roman Forum (Foro Romano). In what was another change to my earlier visits (around 7) on business, you now had to pay for the Forum. It used to be open and free. Actually, you now paid one fee for the Collesium, Forum and Palantine Hill (residences of Roman Leaders) where as before the Collesium and Palantine Hill had separate fees and the Forum was free. It struck me as odd and unfortunate as I would always make multiple visits to the Forum on a trip and just walk around and look at structures or grab a bench and just sit and stare. Guess I couldn’t do that know. The tickets you bought were good for a two visits over a 3 three day period.

There was also a tremendous amount of archaeological and excavating going on at the Forum. New stuff had been discovered and funding secured so many areas I used to visit were now blocked off. There was also a bunch of very weird and odd, modern sculptures scattered throughout the forum in an art exhibit format. I just didn’t get that crappy white art being scattered around the forum. It looked very out of place and actually quite a distraction. Hopefully, its a very short term thing so that not too many one time visitors to the forum have to see it.

After the Forum, we walked up to Palantine Hill and took in the old ruins there. Its quite amazing how the Roman rich and elite lived. They even had their own mini stadium. This was only my second trip to Palantine Hill so I saw some ‘new’ stuff myself. We saved our self an extended walk out to Circus Maximus as its easily visible below one of the overlooks at Palantine Hill. It was actually quite disappointing to see it. It has come in to much disrepair from previous visits. It has never really been kept up as a monument or historic site, but it used to have grass and a track of sorts around it. I remember it being frequented by people and dogs with folks laying around and frisbees being tossed. But now was almost a dirt patch completely with a monument sitting above it. Too bad, it could be another good tourist site or its previous park like area with just a bit of work. But, it clearly didn’t warrant a special trip down to see.

After Palantine Hill, we grabbed some lunch at a pizzeria just outside the Forum. Very nice to sip on a glass of wine and eat some pizza while still able to marvel at the old ruins and structures.

On the way back, we visited quite a few fountains and a couple of piazzas. Savannah was really jonesing for some Gelato and to go back to Trevi Fountain so she could throw some coins into the fountain. Both kids remarked that they liked the view of the Trevi Fountain at night vs day. We also got the requisite pictures and video of everyone throwing a coin in the fountain symbolizing that they would again visit Rome one day.

We arrived back to the apartment a bit before 6 pm. Suzanne and Savannah decided to go hit a couple of local stored looking for some souvenirs. Sean had already picked up a hat and a t-shirt during the day, so he and I remained in the apartment while the girls went out.

It was about 8 at night when we headed out for dinner. We had thought we would venture out to one of my favorite restaurants that night, but given the amount of walking already done, opted for a more local restaurant, my favorite Enoteca (wine bar) just a block from the apartment. We enjoyed another wonderful meal. Suzanne opted for some gnocchi in a tomato sauce. Sean went for my favorite Spaghetti Carbonara. Savannah enjoyed meatballs in tomato sauce declaring them to be the best meatballs she had ever eaten. I resisted the urge for more Carbonara myself and instead devoured some Penne Amatriciana. Suzanne and I enjoyed a bottle of nice Italian red. It was another typical, fantastic Roman meal.

We returned to the apartment a bit after 10:00 and had fun recounting the days activities. It was lights out at about 11:30 with the next days activities planned.

Be sure to follow our travel exploits on this blog as I try to make a daily update of our Rome and transatlantic cruise. Today, we will be swinging over to the Vatican and seeing stuff out there. Should be another fun day!