Saturday, July 22, 2017

May 21st: See All the Things

We got a much earlier start the next morning - no more sleeping until 10:30 again on this trip!

Luckily, the rain had moved out and the weather was gorgeous. We had breakfast in the hotel (and got to spend the entire time listening to some American guy say a creepily enthusiastic 'Mmmmm!' after each bite he took...that is, when we wasn't being condescending toward his wife/partner/whatever she was; way to make us Americans look good, buddy), made a quick stop in the room to grab our stuff, and walked about 15 minutes or so to...

...the Colosseum!

I had read online that the best time to visit was early in the day, before the crowds really picked up and the tickets lines got backed up. Our tickets from the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill the day before were also good for the Colosseum the next day, so we were able to skip that line and get in with only a little bit of a wait.

After seeing it a few times from the outside, it was pretty cool to see how it looked inside.

The view from the next level up was even better. The area in the bottom is called the hypogeum; it was a series of underground tunnels and chambers that held animal pens, mechanical devices, and all sorts of other odds and ends. Before this area was built, they used to flood the Colosseum and stage mock naval battles, but by building the hypogeum, they were able to have all sorts of special effects, including trap doors and elevators that hoisted large animals (think elephants and hippos) up into the arena.

We spent some time wandering through the corridors. Already, more people were starting to filter in...

...but you could still find quiet spots here and there.

Looking straight down the middle; the area on the far side is where the arena stage would have been when the Colosseum was still in use. I can only imagine how chaotic things must have been in the hypogeum below.

There was one small section of restored seats (the lighter area roughly in the middle). People were seated based on their social status, and their 'tickets' were numbered shards of pottery. The Colosseum could hold somewhere between 50,000 and 80,000 people, but was designed with passages called vomitoria that were so efficient that supposedly, everyone could be seated within 15 minutes.

One area on the very top still had scaffolding; I'm not sure what they were doing to it.

We could already see the crowds of people building on the other side, and it wasn't even 9:30am.

Looking out toward Palatine Hill from the second level. We wandered around a little bit more, then made our way outside.

I made sure to walk around and get some good pictures outside, too.  :)

We took a few more looks around, then started to wander down some of the side streets nearby.

I love the colors in Italy...they're so bright and cheery. This was a random building we passed as we were walking.

After a few minutes, we wound up at the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli. It was open to the public, so we decided to go inside. I had almost forgotten that it was Sunday until I saw them having mass in one of the smaller sections off to the side.

There were some really neat paintings on the ceiling. We hung out for a few minutes, then wandered back outside and kept walking.

The Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore was just a couple blocks from our hotel, so we decided to check that one out, too.

That one was even prettier than the first one.

Even cooler, they were having mass, complete with a choir. We sat down and hung out for a little while to watch, then eventually made our way outside and back to the hotel.

After changing into shorts (it was already getting pretty toasty), we wandered over to a little cafe for some coffee and a snack. I don't think I'd ever get sick of the views here in Italy.  :)   We hung out here for a bit, then decided to go explore a bit more.

I honestly can't remember where this was, and trying to look through all of the cathedrals in Rome on Google Maps would take me more time than I have. Either way, it was really pretty.

A little more walking later, we were at the Trevi Fountain. It was built in the 1700s, but the water source itself actually dates back to 19 BC.

What you can't see in these pictures are the hundreds of tourists crammed in around the edges of the fountain. It was PACKED. We hung out for a couple minutes to check out the view, then moved on.

Moved right on to the Fendi store, where I bought myself a, um, souvenir. Oops.  :)

A few more minutes of walking got us to the Spanish Steps. These were also built in the 1700s, and were also covered in tourists.

There were a lot of fancy stores in the area around the Spanish Steps, and Mark was especially happy to see a Lindt store. He took full advantage of their gelato counter.

We kept wandering and eventually wound up over at the Pantheon. There was a pretty big line to get in, but every few minutes or so they'd let a whole bunch of people in all at once. We almost decided to skip it, but figured we'd give the line a try and see how long it took.

It only took a few minutes, and was definitely worth the wait.

The Pantheon originally started out as a Roman temple, then was later changed to a church. It's been in continuous use since it was built sometime between 118 and 128 AD.

The light coming through the oculus was really cool. We looked around for a while, I took a pile of pictures, and we eventually made our way back outside.

Piazza Navona was only a few blocks away, so we wandered over there.

It was really big, with lots of fountains (and people). We sat down on the steps of one of the buildings for a few minutes and took a break in the shade.

One of the fountains in the square. We wandered all through Piazza Navona, then made our way over to another square...

...that was full of stalls selling all sorts of delicious food. Fruits and veggies and flowers and juices and tables heaped with was really cool. We spent a while wandering around before eventually making our way back to the hotel via a tram and the Metro.

We hung out in the room for a little while, sipping some limoncello cream we had picked up in one of the stores and soaking up the air conditioning. I took a couple minutes to enjoy the souvenirs I had picked up earlier in the day.  :)

Mark did a little searching around online and we wound up going to Ristorante Alessio for dinner. It was a little restaurant hidden down a set of stairs, and everything was delicious.

Especially the lasagna.  :)

Mark really liked his dinner, too. We inhaled everything they put in front of us, polished off our bottle of wine, wandered back to the hotel, and spent the rest of the night watching Italian game shows before heading to bed. We had an early start planned for the next day!

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