Italy: A faux-reign affair – Rome (parte ultimo)

After an exhausting day in Florence, we headed back to Rome on another .italo train. This time around, we were going to concentrate on Il Colosseo, La Collina Palatino and Il Pantheon. That’s a lot of old stuff to see! Anyway, the Colosseum was about 1.5 miles from Arco del Lauro so we walked. On our way there, we crossed fiume Tevere at the point where Ponte Roto is still standing. It’s kinda weird to be on a bridge and seeing a section of an ancient bridge right next to it just standing in the middle of the river.

The Colosseum is an awesome site! I’m sure the locals are used to it, but I don’t think I will ever get over the marvel of the structure. Granted, it is probably the size of our modern stadiums, but because of it’s ancient-ness, it stands out like a sore thumb amidst the modern streets and buildings. Carline rented an audio device (iPod) where she listened to the description and history of the structure as we walked around. Though construction of the Colosseum was impressive, I felt it was not as impressive as Pompeii with their sewer systems, house plumbing, heating and cooling systems, etc. I’m sure the Romans [in Rome] had those “modern conveniences”, but if your impressed with the Colosseum, you’ll be flabbergasted with Pompeii.

After exploring all levels of the Colosseum, we headed next door to Palatine Hill (our Colosseum tickets allowed us entry). This is a very serene area. Think of it like the Roman suburbs. Rich and famous families lived on “the hill”. I guess you could call it the Ancient Beverly Hills. After visiting The Hill, we grabbed some lunch and headed to Capitoline Hill (ugh, another hill).

We walk quite a ways to Capitoline Hill only to discover there was a short cut (as seem from the top of Capitoline Hill; oh well) where, after perusing the grounds and visiting the Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli al Campidoglio, we had some coffee and pastries in the cafe atop Capitoline Hill. This place offered a very nice view of Rome. So after resting and taking pictures with the local seagulls, we headed out to see the Pantheon.

The Pantheon is the only ancient Roman structure in use since it was built . It’s not as awe-inspiring as the other structures we’ve seen, but, architecturally, it is a wonder. The piazza in front of the Pantheon is quite cozy, esepecially if you’re out on an evening stroll and grabbing a cup of coffee and conversation. There are many shops along the way as well as near the piazza. After a bit of shopping, we headed back to Arco del Lauro where we stopped at Taberna Piscinula for dinner (around the corner from Arco). It was a bit emotional saying good-bye to the staff of the taberna where we had our first lunch (and my first native cappuccino) and several dinners after that. The staff of the taberna were very helpful and lessons in Italian phrases when we asked. Our last dinner was a pizza porta via which we ate in our room.

Ritorneremo molto presto!