Just after Slovenia, I flew down to Rome for a meeting and stayed a few extra days to explore on my own. I’m so glad I built in extra time; unsurprisingly I loved Rome. There’s still so much to see – I have to come back.
My first free day, I woke up early to try to beat the crowds and the heat and headed over to the Colosseum. The metro was absolutely heaving on the way there – it would be such a chore putting up with surging crowds all the time!
Since I was fairly early, I didn’t have to wait long at all to get into the Colosseum. You can buy a package that gives you access to the Colosseum, Palatino (Palatine Hill) and the Roman Forum, and you might as well because all three are worth seeing.
When I saw the Colosseum, the sun was blinding every shadow and crevice, so I couldn’t appreciate the handiwork as much.
As expected, it was full of jostling, selfie-taking people, but it was also possible to appreciate the magnitude.
This guy, just cruising through the Colosseum
From the Colosseum, I continued on through the rest of Ancient Rome, first through Palatine Hill, which had the remains of a Hippodrome, several arches, gardens, and it’s also where Romulus killed his brother Remus, which is where “Rome” gets its name.
Arch of Titus in Palatine Hill
Palatine Hill is also where Hercules defeated Cacus. Evidence shows that people have lived on Palatine Hill at least as far back as 1,000 BC. The hill is a good vantage to look over the Roman Forum, which was my next stop.
The Roman Forum are the remaining fragments and ruins of the ancient governmental buildings. This is where Marc Anthony delivered his funeral oration for Julius Caesar. Also where Cicero’s severed head and right hand were put on display. As well as, of course, the goings-on of the ancient government. It’s very atmospheric and kind of amazing that they just allow visitors to walk around these ancient artifacts.
Remains of the Temple of Caesar
From all the ruins and remains, I went to the Capitoline Museums, which house classical sculpture and featured a Michaelangelo exhibit. I spent a few hours wandering the halls, and grabbing a quick sandwich on the museum’s cafe terrace.
Remains of the huge statue of Constantine
From the Capitoline Museums, I went to visit the ‘cat sanctuary’ which is a kind of square in Rome which is very recessed and full of 120-something cats which are taken care of. From the fence you can look down into a pit full of ruin-looking objects and see the cats. Although you can apparently adopt them, I think this means you can sponsor one of your choice and pay for its medical bills. There was one cat on the outer edge that I got to hang out with, though I’m not too sure whether it snuck out or was walking the perimeter.
From there, I made my way to the Pantheon, which is the best preserved ancient Roman monument. A huge church with a big ole hole in the ceiling.
Just outside, there was a woman singing opera, which was incredibly surreal to walk up to.
From the Pantheon, I went to another few famous sites: the Trevi Fountain, which Anita Ekberg famously walked into in La Dolce Vita. Also, apparently it’s good luck to throw a coin into the fountain and on an average day? 3,000 euro are thrown into the fountain.
From Trevi to the Spanish Steps, which were immensely crowded.
At this point I dragged myself back to the hotel, exhausted. I showered, read through a few notes for my meeting, and went to meet a colleague for dinner. One of our editors, lived in Rome for many years and recommended we go to a Roman pizzeria, which is apparently among the best near Piazza Navona.
Post-dinner, we walked around Piazza Navona, picked up a gelato and then walked slowly back through the city to our hotels.
Pantheon at night.
After the meeting the next day was over, I headed out to Trastevere just across the river. I found a bus that goes from near my hotel to just outside Trastevere. Oh my dear lord, what a beautiful neighborhood! I walked the streets at dusk and watched the colors turn from ochre to gold.
St. Maria in Trastavere Basilica
Such a beautiful neighborhood!
One of the benefits of taking buses around Rome: the Colosseum at night.
The last day I decided to try my luck with the Vatican, which was kind of an error.
Ain’t got time for that line.
After noping to the line, I got right out of the Vatican and headed to what promised to be way cooler anyway: the Capuchin Crypt. The crypt is below the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini on the Via Veneto near Piazza Barberini.
I appreciate this is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. No photos allowed inside. There are 6 ‘rooms’ or recesses you can look into which, in total, contain the remains of 3,700 former Capuchin friars. The bones have been used to build various sculptures and designs… it’s very difficult to put into words. Here is one set of images from a Google image search as a taster:
And back home!