Continued from: Roma! (Italy Part 3)
The next morning we woke up super excited as we were finally going to get to see the Colosseum! Even though March is Rome’s “off” season, we bought our tickets online the night before to avoid lineups which I definitely recommend. It felt sooooo nice to be able to walk right in past the line and not have to wait. I also recommend if you can swing it to purchase tickets for a tour. This might sound nerdy BUT, if you like learning facts as much as Bryce and I and really want to get the whole experience then when there’s the option, always take the tour. Yes, it might cost more money but if it’s something you are really interested in it makes the experience so much more eventful! We learned way more than we would have wandering around by ourselves and were able to get access to places we wouldn’t have been able to explore with just a regular entrance ticket.
So with our tickets bought we headed out for the Colosseum. Soon we came across Piazza Venezia and the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, which was built in honour of Italy’s first king. The building is quite big and impressive so of course we stopped to take photos. There we were snapping away when suddenly to my left, off in the distance… “Is that… the… Colosseum?”… “Oh!… I suppose it is!” replied Bryce. Insert slight disappointment here that our first moment seeing the Colosseum wasn’t quite as romanticized as we had imagined. We both agreed that we had pictured our first encounter with the Colosseum to be much more dramatic. For instance a turn of the corner and BAM, there it is! Or we come up out of the subway to find the Colosseum right before us. Instead we saw it while we were still at least a 15-20 minute walk away and therefore had to pretend not to notice it as we continued toward it. We did get our slightly more dramatic introduction the second time around after grabbing some breakfast and emerging from a side street to find the Colosseum much closer and larger right in front of us. As we walked up to the magnificent building I almost pinched myself to make sure this moment was real. The feeling is always an overwhelming mixture of emotions when you finally see something that you’ve seen a million times before in photos standing before you in real life. Seeing the Colosseum was one of those moments for me. Not quite as much as the first time I saw the Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower (with those I was full teary eyed) but this was a close second. We headed right in (past the line ups!) and found our tour guide. For our first stop on the tour we were taken out onto the arena floor. It is such a surreal feeling standing in the Colosseum trying to comprehend what actually took place there. We then headed down to the underground level where the gladiators and animals were kept learning so many interesting facts along the way. Our tour guide was nice enough to relate everything to theatre (I’m sure just for me), explaining about all of the “shows” that took place, (the bloody and violent “shows”) often with multiple “scene changes” throughout. I loved learning that underneath the stage, aka “backstage”, there were a crew of people who ran the “shows” (see, even back then they needed a stage crew and stage managers to make it all run smoothly!) and all the different facts about the gladiators who fought there. The tour was wonderful and we even ended up wandering around on our own after to really take it all in. The Colosseum was a trip highlight for sure!
It’s become almost a tradition for us while travelling to take some sort of public transit. Mostly out of necessity to get around (and because it’s cheap) but it is also a great way to get a feel for a city. We like to compare the cleanliness and proper use of signage in all of the metro/subway stations around the world (gotta say Toronto, you’re not winning…) and it seems like a an adventure in itself to try to get around without getting terribly lost. So although there was no real reason in Rome to take the subway, we decided we should for tradition sake. To justify the trip we headed up to Piazza Spagna to grab a late lunch at a place I had read about called Pastificio. Okay, Pastificio is our little secret, deal? If you are bad at keeping secrets please jump ahead to ***
Being in Italy we wanted to eat as much pasta as possible and where better to get real Italian pasta then an Italian pasta factory! That’s right, Pastificio is a small pasta factory where you can go and enjoy their freshly made pasta. During most of the day they are a pasta factory but from 1 pm until about 3:30 pm you can go and grab a container of their daily pasta, along with free water (which is rare in Roman restaurants) and a glass of red wine for only 4 euros! There aren’t any tables but there is a small ledge around the outside of the room for people to stand and eat at. We arrived around 3:15 pm not knowing that the factory closes at around 3:30 pm and so we were there just in time to grab our food and have a few bites before the men apologetically kicked us out. Luckily enough it was a nice day and so we headed to the Spanish steps which were nearby to finish off our lunch. Honestly if you have the chance make sure to stop by and grab some of their delicious pasta!
*** So… you just couldn’t keep a secret, eh? To bring you up to speed we have eaten some pasta and are now sitting on the Spanish Steps.
Another thing to note about Rome in March is that apparently it is the time of year for everything to be under construction. Well, okay, not everything, but a lot. Trinità dei Monti, the church that stands tall at the top of the Spanish Steps, was in the middle of renovations and was therefore covered with a tarp… someone had thought it was a good idea to at least place a photo of the church over the tarp so you could see what you were really missing. I suppose that was thoughtful? Although slightly disappointed, the Spanish Steps and Trinità dei Monti were not high on my list of things to see so I wasn’t super heartbroken. HOWEVER… Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain) was a different story. Trevi Fountain was one of those places I have always wanted to see, right up there with the Colosseum. So you can imagine my disappointment when we arrived at Trevi Fountain to see that it was also under construction, covered in scaffolding and completely drained!!! I could have cried right there (I definitely pouted for a bit). The beautiful and magnificent fountain I had been so excited to see (okay so I’m still pouting…) was undergoing renovations. The only positive thing was that someone, probably the same someone who placed an image of Trinità dei Monti where the actual Trinità dei Monti should have been, had created a tiny square pool of water so tourist like myself could still throw their coin into the water and make a wish. So pout and all, I took my coin, stepped up to the tiny pool and threw it in. Now, apparently the legend is that you are supposed to throw your coin using your right hand over your left shoulder into the fountain and if your coin lands in the fountain then you are destined to return to Rome. I threw my coin and it landed in however, I did not know that you were supposed to throw the coin using your right hand over your left shoulder and it wasn’t technically thrown into Trevi Fountain… I really have NO idea whether or not it counted but I am determined to go back to Rome to see that damn fountain up and running in all its glory so let’s say for story purposes it counted. In addition to the tiny pool there was also a small platform/walkway that you could walk across to a get slightly closer view of the fountain so we walked across it and took some photos of us being very underwhelmed.
The rest of the day consisted of seeing the Pantheon (the Temple to All the Gods), one of the most well preserved buildings of ancient Rome, followed by dinner at a restaurant called de Sergio that had been recommended by Sophie. De Sergio was one of those restaurants that only the locals know about and where everyone only speaks in Italian. We were seated beside two Italian men who, we decided, were out for their weekly dinner together (and of course Bryce in stealth mode took a photo of them to prove it). We ended up ordering two plates of pasta and splitting them: Carbonara and Americana. I have always liked pasta but all of the pasta we experienced in Italy was beyond yummy. Our Carbonara and Americana went perfectly with the bottle of red wine that we ordered, Feudo Montoni, that was also recommended by Sophie. One thing I know is that Sophie has good taste in food and wine… I think we would be great friends.
And then clearly before finally heading home for the night we made a quick stop by Frigidarium for some tasty some gelato.
Continued in: The Roman Forum and The Vatican (Italy Finale Part 5)