After a quite disappointing time in Naples, Rome turned out to be our saving grace. Two days was not near enough to do all Sam and I wanted to do, even when we sacrificed our sleep and woke up before noon on our first full day to get stuff done. We arrived to the main entrance of our hostel, the Walter Guest House, and checked in at around 15:00 (3pm). Upon check in, we were led OUT of the main building and about a block down the road by a man from the hostel (which seemed quite dodgey). He led us to our room in this sort of apartment complex, which turned out to be very welcoming and not dodgey at all. It was quite a different style of hostel than we were used to, but it was nice, almost like a hotel room (but for WAY less). After settling in, we made our way to the first must see sight in Rome: The Colosseum.
Up until this point, a lot of the monuments I’ve seen have seemed kind of unexciting compared to my expectations; Big Ben, for instance wasn’t as large as I thought it’d be. This was not the case for the Colosseum. This thing was MASSIVE and I mean HUGE. When we were first approaching it, we were in a park that was rather high up so you could only really see the top layer of the structure. As we got closer, we could see the whole thing in all its glory. There were of course tourists everywhere, and many military personnel standing guard. Right next to the Colosseum was a large arch, like the Arc De Triomphe in Paris, which was apparently the Arc of Constantine.
We took a little walk up a pathway and peered through some gates into what we found to be the Roman Forum. We realized you had to have tickets to get in and see it all, so we went and bought two twelve euro tickets (which really isn’t that bad considering they get you into both the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, and what you see for the price is well worth it). We hit the Roman Forum first and boy, was it insane. It was full of ruins from thousands of years ago, in roughly the same place that they used to stand in their prime. There were places where you could climb to the top of the ruins and get beautiful views of the city and there were places where you could walk under the still-standing arches. All the gardens and flowers were in full bloom and it just added to the ancient beauty of the place. There were remnants of religious and political buildings and even a little shrine built to Caesar in one of the little covered areas. We spent a solid hour and a half or so marveling at all the sights, and we were speeding through them too as both the Forum and Colosseum closed at a certain time and we wanted to make sure we got to see both.
After we had satiated our taste for the ruins, we crossed the way over to the Colosseum to check out the inside. The insides were almost as grand as the outsides, aside from some construction repairs they had going on to stabilize the building. We made a circle around the perimeter before climbing the large steps to the upper level, where the view was even greater. We walked around this perimeter as well, taking in all the different angles of the structure. It was crazy to think back and try to put yourselves in the same mindset of the Romans. People used to come to this place to watch murder happen. Maybe it was somewhat of a game to them, but that’s what happened. It was a little spooky and upsetting to think about just how much death and destruction had happened within those walls, but it was still a cool experience to stand where so much history had taken place. We wanted to climb to the highest level at the very top of the structure but unfortunately, they had already closed that area off for the night. We took one last look at all the pillars and walls and made our way out.
Seeing as the only thing we had eaten all day was a sandwich on the train to Rome, we were quite hungry for some Italian cuisine by the time we left the Colosseum. On the walk home, we found a little corner restaurant called Ristorante Gima where we decided to have dinner. We started off with some wine (even though I hate it, it seemed like you couldn’t NOT come to Rome and try some). I just ordered a glass of Merlot. Sam, on the other hand MEANT to order a half liter of the house wine, but in his nervousness accidentally ordered a full liter (which is quite a decent amount of wine). Since the red house wine he ordered was way too bitter for my tastes, he was on his own to finish it. He ordered the lemon chicken plate which was quite tender and tasteful. I decided to try some real Italian pasta and ordered the fettucine with cream sauce (I wanted to see how much better it was than Olive Garden’s-the answer is: a lot). Both of our meals were amazing and we topped them off with some gelato from Trattoria Pizzeria on the way home (I’m making it my goal to eat gelato at least once a day the whole time I’m in Italy-and so far, I’m succeeding).
Overall, even though our first day in Rome didn’t even start until about 16:00 (4pm), it was still better than the entire Naples visit. We got more done in a matter of hours in Rome than we did the whole time in Napoli. Rome is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen and it only got better the second day…