Thursday, 17 April 2014

Rome Day 2 - Tuesday March, 25, 2014

I had every intention of getting up early this morning in order to beat the queues around the Colosseum but I am really not an early riser - mornings are just so hard!! After a breakfast of yogurt, melon and nutella on toast (not altogether) I made my way downtown in search of lots of big old buildings. Finally arriving at one of the biggest and oldest of them all. After about a half and hour wait I headed inside. I don’t know why, but I always seem to get ridiculously emotional when I visit old places, or famous monuments and just like the time when I cried on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial I couldn’t hold back a few tears looking out over the Colosseum. It is just incredible to think of all the history and stuff that has happened and all while this building has just stood there. People died in the space in the middle and I was standing the spot where someone was cheering and watching death happen… and enjoying it. And that is just a little bit cray. But there you are. The colosseum was amazing! The rain held off for most if the morning, so I wandered around for about two hours and then left heading towards the Roman Forum. 

The Roman Forum is a big space where lots of different & important government buildings used to stand.A bought a ticket to get in, and then realised that the ticket I bought at the colosseum also included the Roman Forum, so I basically paid twice. What an idiot.
The Forum is mainly just ruins now and you have to use a lot of imagination to try and picture how it used to look. A few temples remain including the one that is supposed to be the tomb of Romulus, the first king of Rome.I wandered throughout all the old stone towards the Capitolina Musuem. I didn't go inside here however as there were other things that I wanted to see more. I did however, stop at the Capitolina cafe, which was one of the first big mistakes I made with food in Rome. 

I don’t know whether I am just a bit fussy when buying food from out and about but the service and the food in this cafe were both appalling. The staff were rude, the kind that make you feel your an inconvenience for wanting to buy food from them. Then despite my panini being taken into the kitchen to be toasted it came back, barely warm, with big slabs of mozzarella all cold. Yuk! After two bites, I gave up pretending that it was even a little bit edible and left. It had started to rain by now, so I decided to visit the Pantheon for a little shelter. The Pantheon was another impressive sight, again one of the oldest buildings in Rome. It was commissioned to be built as a temple to the Gods of Rome, by Marcus Agrippa, around 14AD but was rebuilt and opened in 126AD by Hadrian.  That like 2000 years ago. How is it still standing? It is one of the worlds largest unreinforced domes. From the outside you wouldn’t think any thing of it, as it definitely shows its ages, but I think that is the beauty of it because as you step inside, it is very clear that no expense has been spared in both the design and upkeep. Raphael, who was an artist in Ancient Rome, is buried there. 

After my disastrous panini, I was still hungry so I choose one of restaurants in the Pantheon square to have a bite to eat. I had spaghetti carbonara which was delish, a little different to what I was used to but I guess that was because it was authentic. It was exactly what I needed to keep my going for the afternoon. 

I didn’t really have anything planned next so after stopping at Grom, a famous Italian Gelateria, and picking up a Hazelnut scoop and a Nougat scoop, I just wandered around all the little streets, enjoying the architecture. I eventually found myself alongside the River Tiber so I crossed over and started walking toward Vatican City & the Basilica. There are a lot of street sellers in Rome, you can’t walk 2 minutes down the street without bumping into someone trying to sell you an umbrella if it’s raining, or a some tacky souvenir. It was very annoying. Some were easy to get rid off whilst others wouldn’t take no for an answer and would wave their merchandise in your face, so I had to shoot them evil looks. There were a lot of these on the approach to the Basilica, but I battled through.

The Basilica looked very impressive from the outside, I didn’t go in, as that is on the itinerary for tomorrow, I made my way back across the river and made some monumental errors whilst map reading and couldn’t work out where I was for a good 30 minutes. Eventually I asked a policeman & he pointed out where I was, which was on a completely different part of the map than I thought I was. I wanted to visit Piazza Navona which was meant to be a ‘must see’ which some cool fountains and impressive architecture. I eventually stumbled on it accidentally - which seems to be a recurring theme - and it was a very nice place to end up. There were lots of stalls and street artists, and the whole Piazza, was lined with restaurants, with outdoor seating and patio heaters and of course, two large and intricately carved fountains. 

It was late now so I headed back to the main part of the city, I was still full from my late lunch so I decided to skip dinner and collapsed straight into bed.