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Published: November 10th 2017
Inside the Colosseum
Can I just say.... Wow! This city is so beautiful I cannot believe my eyes.
While studying the map over breakfast I realised my hotel is only a few blocks from the Colosseum so I decided that was to be my starting point. Only two right turns and down the street....provided you start walking in the right direction...and that would be the point where I went wrong. Five minutes in found myself standing on a street corner, staring at the map looking left and right down the street thinking "where is it? I should be able to see it by now?" Next to me was a restaurant and the maître d asked me if I'd like to eat. I asked him if he could tell me which way to the Colosseum. He came and stood next to me smiled and said "Turn around" I looked over my shoulder to the street behind me and there at the end of the road, clearly visible, stood the Colosseum! Rome 1 Dumb Aussie Tourist 0
As I walked up to the Colosseum I was approached by a tour guide who asked if I wanted to join her group. I had heard of
these guides so I happily agreed (thanks Kaz) There weren't enough people so she plonked me in with another companies guide. Which worked fine for me because the second company included a walking tour of the forum. The Colosseum was amazing. It is truly massive and to think they built it with pulleys and levers in 8 years blew me away. Well....pulleys, levers and 50,0000 slaves. The design of the arena was incredibly clever for the time. The floor below housed gladiators, animals, stage hands and prisoners to be condemned. Our guide was lovely but it was her first day and she was very nervous. I think she left a lot of information out. Didn't worry me because I knew I would be returning later for the Colosseum at night tour.
The next step was onto the Roman Forum. This was the street that the emperors used to return to Rome. So if you imagine Joaquin Phoenix in the Gladiator triumphantly returning to Rome after murdering his father, this was the street his chariot rode down. The forum is a vast collection of ruins. The guide took us through the main road and explained the purpose of most of
the buildings. Many were temples and victory arches dedicated to the Emperors but the most fascinating was the Domitian Palace. In its day the palace was 16 acres...dats a lota bathrooms. The front room was a private amphitheatre where they had chariot races (yes chariot races...in the house) and gladiator contests for the emperor and his guests. That's the front room...can you imagine how big the rest of it must have been! He also showed us the house of Vestal Virgins and now I finally know what that term is all about. These girls were recruited at the ripe old age of 10 to be the keepers of the eternal flame that burned in the centre of the forum. The flame was to be kept alight at all times so that any man returning to Rome could take fire to their house. The girls were in service for a period of 30 years, and had to remain pure for the entire time. Any girl who did not keep her vows was taken beyond the city walls and buried alive. The man responsible was chained up out front of the senate and skinned alive. There are only 4 known cases of
Spanish Square (293)
Trinita Dei Monti in the background AKA The church that finally kicked me out
anyone breaking the rules, I think the punishment would be enough motivation to keep their legs crossed.
Next stop the Trevi fountain. I took the hop on/hop off bus to get there (my feet were pretty sore by this stage) I sat on the top floor of the bus, which is open, and listened to the recorded guide as we drove around the city. This is how I fell in love with this place. Every building is a work of art. Sculpture and fountains are everywhere. It is truly majestic. I hopped off the bus at the Trevi fountain, which was easy to find. It is big (no really, I was surprised by the size of the thing) It is beautiful. And there are literally thousands of tourists there.
Next it was on to the Spanish steps which I was told was not far away, but do you think I could find them? I walked for half an hour, up and down streets asking directions and still couldn't find the Piazza di Spagna. Finally I caved and brought a guide book (LP guide safely back at the hotel, brilliant!) only to find I was a block away! Rome
Colosseum at night tour.
The lower decks
2 DAT 0. I had fantasies of sipping a coffee in the Piazza admiring the view and watching the world go by. But by the time I got there all I wanted was a water and somewhere, anywhere, to park my arse for 10 minutes while I contemplated climbing the steps. The problem with stopping anywhere here, are these little Indian dudes come up, and offer you flowers, for free, because "you are so beautiful
". Then they hang around and bug the shit out of you for money. My dentist had warned me about them so I kept saying no. At one point when I was at the top of the steps one of them insisted, and thrust 3 roses into my hand. Then he hung around and bugged me for ten minutes while I tried to read my guide book. Offering to take my photo, give me directions anything. When I didn't want anything he resorted to begging "please, please can you give me a little something" OK mate, if you want a little something, here's your bloody flowers back! He walked away disappointed but I think he should be grateful I put the flowers back in his hands instead of where I would have liked to shove them. At the top of the steps was the church of Trinita Dei Monti. I went inside for a look but I was wearing a singlet top and was turned away...kicked out of the Church! I guess it had to happen sometime.
Then it was back on the bus to the forum to grab some dinner and rest before the Colosseum at night tour. The second tour walked us back around the the Palazzo De Venezio, up into Capital hill then back down past the Roman forum. The guide, Gabrielle, talked the whole time telling us so many stories. He was excellent. Finally we arrived back at the Colosseum. The main reason I booked this tour is that we were allowed to go down into the lower levels,where the gladiators were, the lower level has only been open to the public for three years and only by guided tour. We were the first tour group to enter, and the Colosseum stood quiet and empty. It was quite eerie. When we went down into the lower level he pointed out where the animals and the gladiators were kept, which was quite close. It must have been a special kind of hell down there under the floor, in the dark, the suffocating smell of human and animal sweat and excrement, hearing the 50,000 strong crowd above howling for blood. Its amazing they didn't go mad...or maybe the did?
Finally after 13 hours of touristing, I dragged my tired body back to my hotel, with surprisingly little difficulty. This hotel is lovely but the internet is rubbish so don't be surprised if I take while getting my diary entries out. The bathroom in particular cracks me up. Its a reasonable size so they've put in a toilet and a bidet. However the shower is tiny! Maybe 2 to 3 foot wide. I have to stand diagonally to wash my hair because there is not enough room to put my elbows out. Nice place but not terribly well thought out. I should finish by saying I almost got run over 3 times but nimbly avoided the squishing. Rome 2 DAT 3
Tot: 2.927s; Tpl: 0.062s; cc: 8; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0388s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb