Seeing a huge line waiting to get into the Colosseum, we decided to head towards the Palatine Hill, where our friend Rick Steves told us we could snag some cheap “triple play” tickets (for the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum) which would enable us to skip all the lines. Yes please. Upon purchasing the tickets, we decided that rather than backtrack to the Colosseum, we would just go through the Palatine Hill and Forum, then hit up the Colosseum third.
While today the Circus Maximus doesn’t look like much, the Ancient Romans were nuts about their chariot races; apparently the C.M. held twelve races per day, 240 days per year, for roughly one thousand years, and could hold 250,000 rabid, gambling Romans (more than double America’s largest football stadium, Penn State’s Beaver Stadium).
Onward and downward to the Roman Forum, where the empire really flourished. This was the area of Rome where the politicians, senators, money lenders, etc. could be seen talking and squabbling in their freshly starched togas
.After a stroll through the Forum, we headed back towards the Colosseum. This stop did not disappoint; we went right past the line and into one of the last remaining ancient wonders of the world. We took a walk around the first level, noting the labyrinth beneath where the floorboards and sand (or arena in Latin) would have been. It was in this twisting maze below the carnage where the exotic animals – lions, tigers, hippos, crocodiles, etc. – were kept until it was their time to be sprung upon unsuspecting gladiators or prisoners.
A trip to the second level awarded us views like the one above, and it also gave us great shots of the Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Arch of Constantine (below) – a monument dedicated toward the ruler who changed Christianity from a crime punishable by death to the religion embraced by the entire known world.
From there, we decided to knock out the last of Ancient Rome and head back to Urbis for a recharging (due to our little sleep on the plane and jet-laggedness). The last three items on the list were Trajan’s Market (below), Trajan’s Forum, and the world-famous Trajan’s Column. The Roman Empire was at its pinnacle under Emperor Trajan, so I guess it’s alright that he has all of this stuff named after him (considering he was the one who had all of it built).
The Market was part shopping mall, part warehouse of stolen booty, part administration office, while the Forum was mainly comprised of two libraries a court of law, and a whole lot of plundered gold. The 140 foot Column tells the long story of Trajan’s exploits and military victories, and if the frieze were rolled out, it would be longer than two full football fields.
Pooped, we Metro’ed back to Termini around 5:30pm, got a giant pepperoni pizza, a liter of Coca-Cola, three boxes of wine, and are passing out in the hotel till tonight. We’re considering doing the famous Forum Pub Crawl tonight (four pubs and a “discotecha” ending around 4:30am) but that’s only if our alarms go off to wake us from out jet lagged, food induced comas. Tomorrow: Borghese Gallery, Plazza del Popolo, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and more.