on January 6, 2012
In every city there are things on the list that really must be seen. Even if you're not a fan of the tourist trail - or like to see things that are more out of the way...you really can't visit the likes of Paris without making an attempt to see the Eiffel Tower. Rome is a city of many wonders - and it would be hard to narrow it down to one, single fundamental 'Must See' attraction. But for me - if I had to do that - I think it would probably have to be the Colosseum. Few sights instantly bring more awe - or say 'Rome' in quite the same way as this magnificent ruin. You never know what to expect with these ancient sites in modern cities - and I admit I had half expected to find a crumbling old Colosseum crammed in between crumbling houses and covered in graffiti. But nothing could be further from the truth. Though not in the direct centre of the city, the Colosseum is easily reached either on foot or the metro if you want to have that little adventure. (I recommend walking). If you do take the metro you will come out at the stop into the sunlight only to see the stunning, crumbling architecture of one of the most recognizable sights in Rome looming before you. Of all the things I wanted to see in Rome - this one had beckoned me the most - and I braced myself for it to not be all that I had hoped. As it turns out - my efforts were utterly unnecessary. It was the last major site we visited - on our last full day in Rome, and I ended up spending an enormous amount of time just circling the structure for the best light, the best angle - and soaking in the atmosphere of being near such a historic place. You can pay for a tour to go inside the ruin itself (like most of the other tourist sites in Rome it is pricey at around 15 euros) but it's not necessary to thoroughly enjoy it. You can walk right up to it from the outside, and enjoy the structure that has been standing in some form in Rome since 80 AD. It’s hard to fully appreciate that kind of age and grandeur until your standing at its feet. While sitting and enjoying the view, you can also see (free of charge) the Arch of Constantine, which is actually in immaculate condition considering how long it has been standing (315 AD). This is one of my favourite places in Rome to photograph – and if you can catch it in the golden Italian sunlight of an October afternoon – all the better! It was crowded in the middle of the day - though to my surprise it was nowhere near as crowded as all the other major sites we visited (Trevi Fountain, Spanish steps the Vatican). There were a lot of people but you could also move around and - at least while we were there - you didn't feel pushed or crowded like you did at the other sites. However - its best to visit right at dusk. Most of the visitors have filed away. There was a big weekend market of local produce happening on the street leading up to it while we were there, and we wandered back through just as they were closing up to buy some olives, grapes and cheese to snack on, while we watched the sun lower over the ruins. It was a glorious sight - and probably, well, arguably my favourite Roman moment. Don't leave the city with a visit to the Colosseum - it's worth the trip on its own.
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