We were lucky as Gilbert woke feeling much better today but…unlucky that it absolutely bucketed down as we left. Ran back for umbrellas and jackets and ditched the sun hats deciding to go exploring anyway and hoped it would thin the crowds down.
Gilbert decided best idea is to go on the hop on/hop off bus so we will at least see all the sites and get the audio guide and then stop where we want from there. It’s not cheap at 39euros each but it covers all the main stops so….Went to the train station and a guy there told us of the train, we needed to catch the 308 tram. Not here. That way, pointing the way we had come. We headed out the door and a policeman was helping a woman and turned to me as we walked past, so just to confirm I asked him as well. He said to walk ten minutes straight and then catch the no. 8 tram to Piazza Venezia. So we headed off to walk ten minutes straight but after re-crossing the four roads we had just crossed in a crazy busy intersection we see bus 780 is going to Piazza Venezia so decide to wait for that…But while we are waiting for that we see the no. 8 tram stop so we try to dash thru the six lanes…but then see it’s at the red stop light, not stopping to pick up, stupid! Dashing back before all the lights go green again we watch to see where it goes and it stops across and further up so cross 3 different roads (I told you it was crazy busy), and wait for the next no 8. When the next one comes there is no conductor and everyone seems to have tickets. You can’t buy them on the tram.
A boy asks us if we’re ok as he gets on and points to a dairy to buy tram tickets. So we cross the same three roads and he tells us we need to get on the no. 3 bus just there and sells us an all day bus and metro ticket so we can come home anytime…. But when we go to get on that bus he says. No. we need to get on…that’s enough now I want a taxi…Gilbert says “look we’ve got tickets. Two people said the number 8 so let’s go back and try the tram”. So we cross the same three roads and get on the next no. 8. “Don’t worry” says Gilbert with a smile,”it will take us somewhere!” And sure enough it takes us all the way to Piazza Venezia.
This is why it’s better to just book a central hotel and ask the concierge to organise it I think to myself, and that’s my advice to anyone coming to Rome, unless you’ve got time to muck around. It’s after 11am as we board the bus. I can’t believe our luck as the first bus can’t fit anyone on. The second has a full top story on the open deck but two empty seats downstairs. We have hardly plugged in our headsets when the thunder clapped and it poured again and everyone from the top deck came down. Shame, but we peer for the first hour of the trip though rain smeared windows. We decide no matter what, we will get off at the colosseum and are so lucky as the rain has all but stopped by the time we get off.
Tickets validated we head in for our 2pm time and debate whether to get audio for an extra 12 euro each when a young girl offers us a 2 hour guided tour of the three things there for just…13 euro. I say we should. Sounds a good deal to me. “Ok”, she says, “go to my friend to pay as I don’t take the money and then you can go”. We arrive at him and pay and wait patiently as he answers some questions only to find we are in a group of about thirty. Not just us two and the girl as we thought. Were a bit annoyed but what’s the saying. “If it’s too good to be true…”it’s ok he has a speaker and he’s pretty good so enjoy the colosseum more than I expect and the thick black clouds clear in time for us to enjoy the sun at the Palentine hill where the kings had their palaces built back in the day. All seven of them.
There’s old ruins everywhere.The marble and rock pinched for some new built over a hundred years ago. Buildings always built on top of something else’s foundations. Apparently every time they go to do any digging they come across something so it’s all stopped while they do the archeological dig, catalogue and rebury it. Don’t ask. I have no idea. So there’s heaps of bits like this above. The remains of something.
The colosseum itself took about eight years to build and was so advanced it had a removable roof and the ability to flood the lower thirty feet for water play of a boating kind. They had planned for earthquakes but had the metal pins ripped from it for something else in later years, so when the earthquake struck half of the outer wall collapsed. Then a lot of the marble was taken to complete the Sistine Chapel. I’ll check that out tomorrow…
The pic shows the bottom floor exposed. It used to have a wooden floor over it that had hatches where lions were let up chutes to the top when it would be ‘man against beast’. Mostly criminals fought to their death and if they won 5 fights they could decide if they wanted to be a free man or they could continue to fight as a gladiator and be paid for entertainment. Sometimes the lions would be a bit ho hum about the skinny men they were supposed to chase and devour and might even turn their nose up so sometimes the men would be smeared in antelope blood. It’s all a bit gruesome these stories but they fit with the times I guess.
It’s entirely possible to imagine that this colossal building with all it’s advanced building engineering could still be functional today if it had been looked after as well as the Catholic Churches have been, our guide tells us tongue in cheek. A funny story that our guide also told us is that he took a group through and afterwards an older guy came up to him and said. “Very good information but I’d just like to correct something you said. You said this was built in ’77? Well I was here in ’64 and it was here then”. The guide said he looked at the gentleman in disbelief and said ” ’77AD. Not 1977! ”
We head back feeling like we’re getting to know our way around now and starving as we haven’t eaten since leaving this morning with coffee and one of the cakey-pastry things our BnB host has left us. There is no way I can enjoy these for breakfast. Even Gilbert’s not fussed on them.
It’s five thirty and early for dinner but I remember a fresh pasta deli kind of place we passed on our way out this am and when we enter my saliva starts to run. We devoured it before I thought of taking a pic but imagine this. Classic lasagna fresh made pasta. A plate of vege. Stuffed peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms, tossed roasted peppers, eggplant and potatoe. A dish of fish salted and tossed with a maybe green spinach. Red wine, a red beer, (yep that’s what I mean’t) and fresh bread for 21 euro. We dug into that riot of colour with gusto and then stopped for espresso for me and ice cream for Gilbert and fully satisfied we saunter home. Early start tomorrow as we are moving to a hotel by the Trevi fountain and have a guide organised for 1.30 for the Sistene Chapel and the Vatican.