Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rome, Italy

Wed, 3 June 2015

Today morning we would be departing Venice for Rome at 9.25am and our train journey would take us 3 hrs 45 mins, passing through Florence (or Firenze) and arriving in Rome at 1.10 pm. Since we were hungry by the time we reached Rome, we went straight for lunch at one of the many halal eateries in front of Roma Termini.Our lunch of beriani lamb and kebab cost us around EUR15

Roma Termini for bus, train and Metro
halal restaurant in front of Roma Termini
beriani lamb
After lunch, we walked to our nearby hotel (or hostel rather) at Friendship Place. It is actually located in an old apartment building on the 6th floor and you have to ring the buzzer at the front door for the owner to let you in. You need to inform the owner of your expected time of arrival for her to receive you, otherwise you'd locked out in case she was running an errand. Our accommodation cost us EUR 60/ night excluding city tax of EUR3.50 per person per night and Wifi access of EUR 1 / night. During our stay, Senorita Barbara was on duty, giving our keys and explaining how things work, much like an airbnb arrangement. She gave us a helpful map of Rome as wel. But nevertheless, our room was cosy and breakfast is included in the rate, although it is served the earliest at 8am (as Barbara only arrives at 7.30am), so we didn't get the free breakfast on the second day as we had to leave earlier at 7.30am to catch our flight back to Amsterdam at 10.25am. On the day of our check out, the lift door at the ground floor was still locked (Barbara hasn't arrived yet), luckily the lift door on the first floor was unlocked, so we exited through there. Otherwise, we had to go down by stairs from the 6th floor.

front entrance door of the apartment building

our room at Frienship Place

old lift at Friendship Place

our simple breakfast
with Barbara

We only ventured out to Rome at around 4pm when it was already scorching hot in the beginning of summer. We bought a 48 hour Rome ATAC ticket which gives you access to rides on bus, metro, tram and urban train for EUR 12.50 which we bought from the self service machine at the Roma Termini Metro station. I read that there would be a lot of walking required to visit the places of interest in Rome, but we bought the pass nevertheless as some places are still accessible by public transport, especially the Colosseum.

We planned to buy the ticket to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill Complex today (cost EUR 12/ person) and only access the complex the next day as it was already 4pm. This Complex is a Unesco Heritage Site under Historic Centre of Rome, the properties of the Holy See in that city enjoying extraterritorial rights and San Paulo Fuori le Mura.

Arriving at Colosseo Metro station, we went straight to the Roman Forum to buy the tickets as we the queue at Colosseo was longer. We read this tip online prior to our trip, and it was true! There was no queue at Roman Forum so we got our tickets in no time! To our surprise, we were told could access the Complex for 2 days, beginning today and could come back again tomorrow. Since we were already there, we decided to cover the Complex today and might continue tomorrow if we couldn't finish it.

We went to the Roman Forum first as it was nearest to the ticket counter. The Roman Forum is is a rectangular plaza surrounded by the ruins of ancient government buildings. It was the center of Roman public life: the venue for processions and elections, public speeches, criminal trials, gladiatorial matches and commercial affairs. Some of the surviving structures that are still visible today are the:
Temple of Antonio and Faustina: Begun in 141 AD by the Emperor Antoninus Pius and was initially dedicated to his deceased and deified wife, Faustina the Elder. When Antoninus Pius was deified after his death in 161 AD, the temple was re-dedicated jointly to Antoninus and Faustina
Arch of Titus: to commemorate Titus' victories, including the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD
Regia: originally served as the residence or one of the main headquarters of kings of Rome and later as the office of the Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of Roman state religion
Tabularium : official records office of ancient Rome, and also housed the offices of many city officials Gemonian stairs : a place for execution. The condemned were usually strangled before their bodies were bound and thrown down the stairs
Temple of Saturn: temple to the god Saturn
Temple of Vespasian and Titus : dedicated to the deified Vespasian and his son, the deified Titus
Arch of Septimius Severus: to commemorate the victories of Emperor Septimius Severus against the Parthians in 194/195 and 197-199

Temple of Caesar: dedicated to the senate deified Julius Caesar posthumously
Temple of Castor and Pollux : originally built in gratitude for victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus (495 BC), Temple of Vesta : All temples to Vesta were round, and had entrances facing east to symbolize connection between Vesta’s fire and the sun as sources of life
Facts taken from here

Temple of Antonio and Faustina
Arch of Titus

areal view of the Roman Forum

part of the Regia ruins

Map of the archeological ruins of Rome

From the Roman Forum, we walked to the Colosseum just opposite the Forum. The same ticket can be used at the Colosseum and there was no long queue. We had our bags inspected here. The Colosseum could hold, between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators and was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in 72 AD, and was completed in 80 AD under his successor and heir Titus.

A note captured from the Colosseum revealed a grim scene of the Gladiator battles:
The spectacle day began in the morning with the presentation of all the participants (pompa). This was followed by the Venationes, hunts in which hunters tackled wild animals lurking among sets replicating the geographical contexts from which they came. During the lunch interval, when executions ad bestias took place, the condemned, naked and unarmed, faced the wild beasts which would eventually tear them to pieces. During the intervals, there were performances by jugglers, acrobats and magicians, as well as parodies and re-enactments of ancient myths. Finally, gladiatorial combats (munera) were held in the afternoon. Their origin, perhaps Estrucan or Samnite, was linked to funerary celebrations in honour of eminent individuals. The participants in these combats were usually prisoners of war or slaves, but some gladiators were free men seeking fame and fortune. There were numerous categories of gladiators, distinguished by their weapons and combat techniques. Those who were defeated in a duel could hope to be pardoned by the emperor or the audience, saving their life. Thanks to the popularity, the games (ludi) were often financed by politicians who hoped to curry favour with the public whereas intellectuals saw these spectacles as a means of swaying public opinion and as a cause of spiritual decadence.

Facts taken from here.

the colosseum

the colosseum

inside the colosseum

From the Colosseum, we made our way to the Trinita dei Monti and Spanish Steps via the Metro Spagna station. The Spanish Steps is a stairways of 135 steps linking the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti church at the top. Spanish refers to the Spanish Ambassador who lived there. At the right corner of the Spanish Steps is the house of the English poet John Keats. Perhaps, one should come here during spring when the ramps of the staircase are covered with flowers. During our visit there, the Trinita dei Monti church was closed for restoration works.

Spanish steps. Trinita dei Monti at the top is under restoration
Piazza Spagna at the base

From the Spanish Steps, we took the Metro from Spagna to Barberini station. We walked towards the Fontana de Trevi, but unfortunately the fountain was also closed for restoration works. According to legend, if you throw a coin into the fountain, you'd be returning to Rome again. Originally, the fountain was one of the aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome.

Fontana Trevi closed for restoration works

what Fontana Trevi would have looked like

We had dinner tonight nearby the Trevi fountain at a halal pizza eatery - Luna Caprese. The pizza is priced by weight, a bit on the high side compared to other full pizzas that we had. Our sliced pizza cost us about EUR 20. We also did some t-shirt shopping at the shops near the fountain (EUR 10 per t-shirt), but later found out that the shops near to our accomodation sell cheaper t-shirts (EUR 8 per t-shirt).

Luna Caprese facade

pizza by weight at Luna Caprese

Pinocchio shop near the Trevi fountain

We then went back to the Colosseum by metro to take pictures of the Colosseum at night then called it a day. Tomorrow we would be visiting the residence of the Pope - Vatican City - a country of its own.

the Colosseum at night



Post a Comment

<< Home