A Travellerspoint blog

November 2014

The Ruins of Rome

We sadly left Naples & headed to Rome. It was straight off to tourist central and the constant question ... Selfie? Selfie sticks are sold everywhere and that question was never-ending the whole time we were in Rome. After an hour of queuing we finally made it to inside the colosseum.

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The place was enormous! It's hard to imagine the numerous slaves that it would have taken to make the monstrosity in under 10 years! We saw the massive maze that was the underground system as the stage is now removed. The place use to house animal fights (most animals were from distant lands Rome had conquered), sea battles, re-enactments of battles and mythology. Most people were given bread and wine when they came to watch the shows. Later on the church was used as a religious shrine and even today at Easter the pope completes the Spiritual Way of the Cross in this area.

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After imagining the gladiator fights that use to occur in the massive amphitheatre (It wasn't hard if you have watched the movie Gladiator) we headed to get burgers for dinner with the little Italian we knew.

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The burgers were delicious with proper beef, plenty of salad and pickles! They also came with fried potatoes... a reminder of Dad making them for me at home on the BBQ. Yum!

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The next day we headed to the Vatican area. We waited in line for an hour for the Museum, much better than the 3-4 hours it usually is. The building interiors were amazing. Frescos were painted in every room and they were works of art in themselves.

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The highlight were the Raphael rooms.The rooms were spectacular and you could feel the passion Raphael had for his work. The Sistine chapel was beautiful but pictures do it justice, it wasn't more magnificent than I expected when I went into see it. I discovered while in Rome that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel after being asked by the Pope at the time rather than volunteering (you could never say no to the pope in those times). He considered himself move of a sculptor than a painter and I guess this masterpiece reflects this emotion. It is beautiful but I just didn't feel the same passion from it.

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The papal's audience had been on that morning so unfortunately the St. Peter Basilica and the square were off limits. We found delicious pizza by the slice in a bakery on our walk home. Basically they have a meter long pizza and they cut it and weigh it to the size you want. You pay by weight so you pay for what you get.

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That night we headed off to a Food Tour of the old Trastevere area of Rome. On our way to dinner we crossed the Torre Argentina ruins which is the cat sanctuary. The cats basically live in these ruins, it is their home. We also saw massive swarms (they were much bigger than flocks) of birds swinging over the river. It was a magical sight considering the thousands of them that were there. They migrate here every winter.

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Trastevere is nearly considered to have a culture of it's own compared to Rome and this steams back to the olden days. Our food tour started with Prosecco, a Roma version of champagne, a Jewish fried artichoke and porata cheese as our appetiser at a local family run trattoria. As the tour went along we headed to a old wire cellar that was previously in a synagogue and was older than the Colosseum by 160 years! We ate pasta and went to La Farmacia di Santa Maria della Scala, an old pharmacy in a monastery from 1590's that was running until the 1950's. This place was spectacular and made the food tour for me. Sadly we weren't allowed to take photos but this place I could only describe as a cross between a Harry Potter scene and a science lab; all the ales, potions and books from the 1950's were still in their phials on the wall. Amazing! I just wanted to search all the cupboards to see what treasures I could find. I found one of the old remedies they use to sell for eyes. The ingredients included bilberry, ginko and saffron in it...Rather interesting considering we still use these to treat some eye conditions now.

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Our last stop on our trip was a gelateria where we learnt what makes traditional gelato (85% of gelato in Rome is now considered fake and is made out of powder with artificial ingredients). The way to tell is look at the colour of the pistachio and the banana flavours. They shouldn't be bright green or yellow (think of what their natural colours are). Lastly gelato shouldn't be massive and puffed up over the tin, it should be heavy. The food tour was a great way for us to explore another part of Rome and try some traditional Roman dishes. I shall write more about it in the food blog.

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On our final full day in Rome we headed on a bike tour. We saw a few things we had already seen like the colosseum. But we also saw everything else while enjoying the day. After the colosseum it was straight to the Roman Forum with it's amazing Trajan Column; it basically it was like the first comic strip.

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The list we went to was massive but it included the Trevi fountain (which is currently under construction). I was highly amused about how they have made a little area with water so people can still through their coin into the fountain. The fountain was made under orders of the pope.

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The Spanish Steps were also very underwhelming. I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't just a bunch of steps to a building.
We rode through parliament before arriving at the Pantheon.

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This place is a church and is amazing to see due it its massive dome. Rumour has it that it use to be thought that the was a window on the top because when it rained no water came in through the opening. There is no glass. When it rained the heat from all the candles would evaporate the drops before they hit the ground (well that is the story anyway).

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We headed through the Campo de' Fiori Markets and stopped for pizza before heading up Capitoline Hill with it's spectacular view of the Roman Forum and the rest of the ancient ruins.

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After the tour we were off on another mission. This time we were headed to the find the Knights of Malta keyhole. On the way we saw Bocca della Verità and the massive line to put your hand in his mouth. The story is if you have your hand in his mouth and lie he will chop it off. We finally arrived up the Aventine hill and found our keyhole.

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The view looking through was spectacular. It showed the basilica in prime view at the end of a garden path. When we arrived we were the only ones there and got to treasure the stunning exclusive view. When we left there was a decent line behind us. On the same little hill Parco Savello also has stunning views of the city and is a beautiful small park.

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We headed down to Piazza Navona to relax in the square and wait for real Roman pizza. There are two different types of pizza in Rome by the slice or wood fired. Wood fired with it's thin base is only served at night as it takes ages for the pizza oven to heat. We went to Pizzeria da Baffetto, an institution in Rome. Signor Baffetto was there the night we went. He is now wheelchair bound and has a slur from a stroke. He had such pride watching his family work, it was really special to see. Our pizzas were really good but I think I am a Napoleon fan with it thick base compared to a Roman style one.

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Our final morning in Rome we explored St Peter's square. With a couple of hours there was no way we would have got into the Bascillica . The line snaked around the whole square. I reckon it would have taken hours to get inside. The square itself was impressive with it's massive columns on every side.

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Rome is not my favourite place when it comes to Italy. I personally found that things seemed to be totally catered to the tourist no matter where we went. That being said Rome has some amazing sights...It has a massive mix of ruins, cathedrals and newer exciting monuments and attractions. It is definitely not a place you could get bored.

Posted by chellebelle 12:21 Archived in Italy Tagged food ruins rome tour tourist pizza gelato airbnb artichoke selfie Comments (0)

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