Rome Stories and Tips

Oh the Horror!

Colosseum  Photo, Rome, Italy

I don't know about footloose but we certainly are foot sore! We "did" the Colosseum today, Nov. 7, and seemed to involve ourselves in more walking than necessary. I don't know what it is but we either get off a bus at the wrong spot or have to walk extra to find our destination.

This morning we headed to find the bus stop. It had a stop for every number except the one we wanted, naturally, though we saw the bus we wanted go by a few times. We waqlked up the road. Surely we'd come across the stop eventually. "Eventually" was the accurate word. It probably wasn't far in the grand scheme of things but it was farther than we thought we'd have to go. Once on the crowded bus, our noses pressed up against the front door, we spotted the stop at the place we started. For some reason, neither of us saw it though we were right beside it.

We knew the bus was heading to Piazza Venezia which was a bit of a walk to the Colosseum so I thought we should get off at the stop before. Which turned into just as much walking. We went down a flight of stairs and around near the Trajan Markets and ruins of the Trajan Forums. We probably wouldn't have had as good a view of that had we stayed on the bus so that was good to see at least.

The column of Trajan has a relief spiralling up to the top with illustrations carved into it of all Trajan's victories. The markets were just that, shops but they were multi levels of shops, very modern! They were up as high as six storeys in some parts and contained offices and warehouses as well. There is a museum on the other side of it, we walked past that when we first got off the bus.

It was still a bit of a walk to the Colosseum from there and it's really warm today with hardly a cloud in the sky. We booked the tour online so we buzzed through the reservation line, got our tickets and had a 15 minute wait for the guide. The tour we took included the hypogeum (basement level) and the third level in addition to the main stuff.

The guide was quite good though we did find the radio devices a little hard to make out at times. Booking these tours is the only way you get to go down under and see a bit of the underbelly of the Colosseum where they kept the cages and props and all the mechanics for pushing people and animals and stage bits up into the stadium.

I managed to get up the steps from the basement and barely managed the steeper stairs up to the second level. I didn't think I'd get up to the third level so I stayed put and Graham went up and took pics from there.

The tour ended after that. We were both tired and thirsty and exited the structure and tried to decide where to go next. We walked around away from the direction we'd come and there were a string of restaurants there. We knew it would be pricey and we shouldn't have gone into one but we did. We ordered burgers but if that patty came from a cow, then the cow had feathers and clucked. The waiter said he'd ordered the one we wanted but I don't think the cook got the message. It was ok but I'm pretty sure it wasn't beef.

Did we have the energy to go tramping around the Forum? One sign pointed us to the right for an entrance which seemed to indicate we'd have to climb the Palatine Hill before getting to the Forum. I was sure there was another entrance around the corner and there was. But it was blocked off. We were both done in and I was damned if I was going to walk all that way back around. It was starting to get late and we'd not have a lot of time inside before they closed anyway.

Finding a bus stop was another problem. We walked into Piazza Venezia in front of the big white "wedding cake" building, the Vitorio Emanuelle II monument, and couldn't see where the busses stop and the one we wanted seemed to be coming from around a corner. Expecting we'd have to walk another long way, I gave up and we headed to the taxi stand

Into the cab and a fairly short ride back unlike yesterday's marathon in traffic. But before hitting the room, I really wanted a beer so we went into the hotel bar and had a Peroni and it hit every spot there was! We tried one of the other neighbourhood restaurants tonight, Taverna Flavia (see review). Food was pretty good though last night's was better and cheaper.

November 8

The theme for part of today was Horror. From "real" horror to fake horror! The real horror was the museum and crypt of the Capuchin Monks at Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccin on Via Veneto. (see review in this journal) The main attraction is the crypts, decorated elaborately with the bones of thousands of Capuchin monks over several centuries. It's eerie and kind of unsettling really. There are even what appears to be skeletons in the brown hooded monks' robes surrounded by bones and skulls.

Next order of business was the Fake Horror. It was too far to walk to our next destination so we took the Metro for the first time. It was pretty simple to use. The signs were clear for which platform you needed since we knew the stop we wanted. We got tickets from the machine and went through the barriers. I asked at a news kiosk which direction for Via Gracchi and headed off.

Graham is a big fan of horror movies and in Rome there is a shop owned by Italian horror director Dario Argento called Profundo Rosso which is also the name of one of his films. The shop itself is small and contains pretty much the usual sort of thing you might find in any sci-fi fantasy themed shop. The cool thing is that underneath is an exhibit of movie memorabilia from Argento's films. It's dark and shadowy, with the exhibits lit in lurid lights and there's a sound track to describe each "cell" and which film it relates to. It's gruesome, but then it would be, wouldn't it? It was well put together, though and only took about 20 minutes to see everything and take some photos.

Time to find somewhere for lunch. We walked towards a shopping street called Cola di Rienzo and found a small cafe called Taverna di Luisa on a side street. They had a fixed price menu for 10 euro with bruschetta, pizza, dessert and water included. The pizza was lovely, crispy thin crust and really big.

Over to the shopping street next. We shopped and browsed and picked up a few things, some for gifts and some for ourselves. We walked down to the Tiber River and wandered along it until we came to Castel St. Angelo, the fortress that is best known as the stronghold of some of the medieval popes. The area in front of it is thronged with both independent hawkers pushing more cashmere scarves and all kinds of other things, and a little market stall area with legitimate vendors that allow credit card payment as well as cash. I did find some nice things there and bought a handful of Christmas presents.

I'm not as worn out as I was yesterday but I still have sore feet and legs. We got bus tickets from a machine and found the right stop. The next bus was only about 10 minutes' wait and we even got seats! As the bus wound its way through the streets, it got quite full.

Something we've noticed, though we buy tickets and validate them on board in the machine, people are getting on the bus, not just at the front but at the rear exits and are not paying or punching tickets. I don't know if they have passes or are just taking chances. We weren't about to. Don't want the Italian SWAT teams swooping down and tossing us in the dungeons of Castel Sant'Angelo for not paying for a bus ticket!

We even managed to get off at the right stop this time. We stopped off at an old patisserie just around the corner from the hotel to get take out tiny coffees and pastries. We had a rest and then we decided to go to the Hard Rock Cafe for our evening meal, by taxi. It's not that far but we were tired of walking for today.

Been to this destination?

Share Your Story or Tip