August 2, 2018
Happy Birthday Chris.
My feet are killing me, another great day in Rome.
The history is absolutely incredible. Today was a visit to the Coliseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. We had spoken to a couple of girls this morning who had done the tour yesterday and said “with the right tour guide it is great”. They were a little disappointed with the morning tour guide, but the afternoon guide was great. They warned us about the hawkers around the metro station.
Again we took the Metro to the Coliseum. The Metro is really easy to use – a one-way ticket is E1.50 each or you can buy a 24 hour ticket for E7.00 each. If you are going to hop on and off the metro, it is worth getting the E7.00 ticket. We bought the one-way tickets.
There were a lot of hawkers, we told them we already had tickets and stood in line. The line was long and eventually Ralf went to one of the “Tour Guides” and asked how much to “Skip the Line.” For a tour guide and visiting all the sites – Coliseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum it cost us 30 E each. If we had stayed in line for an hour or more it would have been 48 E for the two of us, it was worth skipping the line.
The Coliseum guide was tiny (really tiny, smaller than me). She held a telescopic pole with lace tied to the top and away she went. Trying to keep up with her through all the crowds, to get our tickets was very difficult. Eventually, after a security check, we were inside the Coliseum.
The guide gave us a lot of information, about the building of the Coliseum in 72 AD. The building was completed in 8 years by Jewish slaves (Prisoners of War) and Jewish money after the conquering of Judea.
On the outside of the Coliseum there are marble plaques that indicate what area you were to sit. The marble seating has been reconstructed to show what the stadium would have looked like during the “games”.
The Coliseum was used as an arena to provide entertainment to the masses – “Give them games and food and they will be happy”. The games and food were provided by person who hosted the games. Often someone who wanted votes to be elected to a position of power. The morning entertainment was always the contests with the animals – not much of a contest, when you had lions etc. entering the ring with unarmed combatants. The animals were killed for their meat and to feed the masses.
The mid-morning/early afternoon entertainment was usually the executions. These were criminals who could fight for their lives! Again unarmed combatants against well-armed Gladiators.
The afternoon and early evening was for the gladiators. People would scratch the names of their favorite gladiator on the seats – graffiti has always existed in Rome!
During each part of the games the “scenery” was changed. A series of doors and winches were used to bring the animals and combatants to the arena floor.
After the history lesson we were allowed to wander around the two-levels that were accessible.
The subterranean level was where the animals and criminals were kept.We finished our wanderings at about 1:00 and our afternoon tour of the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum would start at 2:30. We were to meet our second tour guide outside of the Coliseum.
As we exited the Coliseum we were confronted by dozens of migrants with bags full of water bottles selling water at one Euro per bottle. I showed my iced water bottles and we made our way through. Within seconds, they all started running for the top road, a well worn path. The local police had arrived in a car to move them on. They waited until the police had got back in their car and then descended on the tourists again. This happened several times, it was like a game of cat and mouse.
We had an hour to kill, we found a great place for lunch down a side street leading away from the Coliseum called Simplece. A lovely pasta salad, with fruit and a cold drink for E6.00, you can find cheaper places to eat if you look. The young woman behind the counter was really friendly and had a great smile and lively personality.
At 2:30 we met out tour guide (Stan) and walked the short distance to the Palatine Hill. Our group had expanded from about 30 people to almost 60 people. Fortunately, the afternoon tour guide was very tall and had a voice that everyone could hear.
He gave us the history of Palatine Hill which is where the first six emperors of Rome resided. Then we were told about the Roman Forum. This area is full of history. He told us that in one area there is a piece of marble (which is not actually marble it is Porphyry stone) called Emperor’s Marble and is worth about 200,000 Euro per cubic inch. There is a bath in the Vatican museum which was Nero’s bath, which is made from this marble and is worth approximately 2 billion Euro’s.
After Stan had given us a history lesson which took about an hour and a half we wandered the Palatine hill and gardens and then went down to the Roman Forum. Stan told us where to enter the forum and how to get back to the metro station. He told us to head for the Roman McDonald’s (three arches) and turn right or left down the Via del Corso. and you can find the exit.
One kid asked his Mom if they could go to the McDonald’s, he really needed a McDonald’s. His younger sister had to explain the joke to him.
The afternoon photos, didn’t turn out as well, as there was a smudge on the lense. However, you get the general idea.
The Romans liked to build large arches to show their triumphs in war. This one depicted their success in Judea and the spoils of war.
A really interesting day. Full of facts and figures that I have forgotten already, but very interesting and exhausting. Again it was really hot and we headed back to the Gelataria and ate more gelato before going to the supermarket to buy dinner – a nice salad tonight.
Ralf packed the bikes ready for our move to the Best Western tomorrow and ready for the flight home on Monday. I am a little concerned about the size of Ralf’s bike box, it is very big. The Best Western will call the taxi service tomorrow and reserve a mini-van for us. Fingers crossed his box will fit in. We haven’t been successful in the past, with taxis but maybe our luck will change and everything will run smoothly.