Thursday, August 9, 2012

Coliseum & Forum: The Caesar Shuffle

For our last day in Rome, we had to see the Coliseum and Roman Forum. We had breakfast in our room - the fruit and cereal bars that we picked up yesterday in the train station market. We couldn't eat yogurt because we had no utensils. Plasticware is not ubiquitous in Italy like it is in the States.

Lori and I grabbed cappuccino in the station before meeting everyone for the first hop-on/hop-off bus. The route starts at 8:30.

We took the bus one stop to the Coliseum. Instead of following the crowds toward the Coliseum, though, we went the other way toward the Paletine Hill. Tickets include all 3 attractions: the Paletine Hill, the Forum, and the Coliseum. All of our guidebooks told us that the line at the Coliseum would be longest and to but tickets elsewhere. There were only 3 groups in front of us at the ticket window. The line at the Coliseum was already very long when we had passed earlier.

We entered and walked toward the Forum to the Arch of Titus, where the tour in the Rick Steves guidebook I had purchased on the Kindle app on my iPad started.

We followed the tour, gathering in a shady spot at each stop where i'd read from my iPad.

Among many other highlights, it was really amazing to see flowers still placed on the spot where Julius Caesar's body was burned after his assassination.

We really enjoyed learning about the Forum, and the tour. It was early enough that it wasn't too hot, and the kids loved using their imagination to think of how things used to look. When we finished we walked over to the Coliseum.

The line was massive - easily more than 2 hours long. Since we already had tickets, we didn't have to wait. We worked our way to the entrance, and then in true European "queuing" fashion, bumped, rubbed, and jostled our way in.

The Coliseum certainly was impressive, but fighting tour groups and trying not to lose the kids in the oppressive crowds got old very quickly. We spent about 45 minutes looking around, and then left. All of us agreed that we were happy to have seen the Coliseum, but that we enjoyed the Forum more.

After leaving the Coliseum, we walked about 2 blocks to the Basilica San Clemente, a place that Abby had identified as a "must do" on the trip.

Abby was devastated that she wasn't allowed to enter at first. She was wearing a tank top, and to enter one's shoulders had to be covered. My mother saved the day by using a handkerchief to cover Abby's shoulders.

The church itself was nice, but the real attraction is what's underneath the church. For 5 Euro (children were free) you can see the 4th century church that the Basilica was built upon, and then the 1st century Mithraic temple that that was built upon. There is also a 1st Century Roman home with a natural spring on the lowest level. No photos are allowed in the Basilica or the exhibit underneath. It was very worth the money, and I think that Michael liked exploring around the most out of all of us.

After Basilica San Clemente we walked back to the Metro stop and took the Metro back to Termini, where we picked up salads and panini for a cheap lunch. We brought everything back to the hotel and ate together in the lobby.

On the walk back, Mom insisted that I take a picture of the Italian Red Cross truck that we passed.

After long naps and showers, we headed out for dinner at Otello alla Concordia, which was recommended by our Frommer's guide book and the hotel receptionist. She made reservations for us at 7:30. We hopped on the subway to Spagna, the Spanish Steps.

We had about a half hour before dinner, so we walked around the pedestrian shopping area.

Dinner was the best we had in Rome. The antipasti were amazing, and everyone was very pleased with their meals. Mom said the eggplant parm was the best she's ever had.

After dinner we went for gelato at Venchi, a chocolate shop right across from the restaurant. Holy wow! It was by far the best gelato we've had so far. All the chocolate flavors were amazing.

We ended our time in Rome by walking to the Trevi Fountain to throw our coins in. We passed the Disney Store, which was closed.

The fountain was beautiful and we took lots of pictures.

We took the Metro back to our hotel and said our goodbyes, since my parents are headed to England tomorrow for the Olympic women's soccer final (Go USA!!!) and my sister and brother-in-law have a flight home to New York.

Tomorrow we have a morning train to the hill town of Orvieto, where we are spending the day before saying Arrivederci to Italy. We're catching a sleeper train to Munich from Orvieto and starting the German portion of our adventure.

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