Wednesday, July 2, 2014

April 14, 2014–Roma, Day 2

Today’s Travelpod was written by Lizzie and Doug and is found below in italics. Any new comments are in regular text. Enjoy!

Lizzie here:
We woke up today with plans to see Ancient Roma. We got dressed and headed out to find a taxi. (It would be a 30 minute walk, but we wanted to get there quickly.) Our first stop: The Colosseum. 2014-04-14-02-28-08_IMG_1775

We found the ticket office (The secret one that had a 5 minute line vs. the 2 hour wait we saw to buy tickets) and headed to the entrance. 2014-04-14-03-06-08_IMG_1809

(doug: she is not kidding. The line at Palatine Hill, even if it looks long, is MUCH SHORTER than the Colosseum. MUCH SHORTER. Remember that. We actually told some people waiting at the end of the Colosseum line that they should climb the hill – they will get in so much faster. The line outside the stadium might not look bad, but it loops around inside. If you already have your tickets, you can smile at yourself for not waiting in that monstrous line)

We entered the massive structure Roman style – all in one group hoard. No organized lines, just a pushy crowd pushing forward. We got in and headed to the second level. The Colosseum really is a sight to behold. It is huge and I can only imagine what it looked like in its heyday. We walked around the upper level and then toured the lower level. We listened to Rick Steves' tour and were glad we were not sacrificed to lions just for the show. Such a harsh, intense place. I am not sure I would have enjoyed that entertainment at all. Actually, I am sure I would have avoided it at all costs…but I digress. 2014-04-14-02-37-19_IMG_1783

(doug: this is truly an engineering marvel – to have a place that rivals stadiums of today and includes enough staircases and exits to allow the ancient Roman crowd of 50,000 to exit in 15 minutes? This is clearly the model for stadiums of today. 2000 years ago they built this! That’s incredible)2014-04-14-10-43-01_PANO_20140414_103952


My favorite photo taken in the Colosseum….it shows life in a deadly place. 2014-04-14-02-42-12_IMG_1787

It was almost noon when we left the Colosseum, so we decided to be proactive and get lunch before we got too hangry. We walked a few blocks away and found a little restaurant. We ate and enjoyed the show which happened to be our waiter. He said his name was Pasqual and the name of the restaurant was Pasqualino’s. I’m not sure if he was pulling our leg or if he really was the owner (or related to the owner). Either way, he was a fun waiter.2014-04-14-04-30-37_IMG_1811

We left there and headed to the Forum and other ancient Roma spots. It was hot when the sun hit you and sadly, we had been in the sun a lot. We were starting to slow down.2014-04-14-05-49-10_IMG_18282014-04-14-05-47-01_IMG_18192014-04-14-05-47-11_IMG_1822

We listened to most of Rick’s tour and then we finally bailed and headed out of the Ancient Roma area. We caught a cab and headed back to the hotel for a siesta. (Doug allowed it because he was tired. Yay. I wore him out.)

See the heart shaped stone in Ancient Rome:



(doug’s turn)
After our (my) nap, we woke up with a plan for the rest of the day. Capuchin Crypt, Pantheon, free gelato. And probably food in there somewhere, too. Lizzie hailed us another taxi and we headed to the church to go see some bones!

On the way, Lizzie asked if I was ok if she sat this one out. She was a little creeped out by the human bones all over the place. No problem for me, I said. I paid my 6 euro to get in, checked out the museum (they showed an interesting video of the process of how they restore some of the ancient texts and had a bunch of relics from long before anyone can remember) and headed into the crypt.

It was incredibly humbling. These monks arranged their brothers’ bones in beautiful artwork throughout the crypt. Jawbones and hipbones were connected to create beautiful flowers. Femurs and shoulder blades, when stacked together, make some very interesting patterns. There was some symbolism on the walls with one showing a Roman watch (hourglass) with wings on it showing that time flies while you’re on earth. And another clock with no hands on it supposedly showing that the afterlife is eternal.

No photos were allowed, otherwise, I’d have hundreds. I found the crypt fascinating. They even brought some dirt in from Jerusalem and buried some brothers in the dirt surrounded by the bones of their other deceased brothers. I think in all, there were 3700 monks buried there. That was a LOT of skulls (and femurs, and jawbones, and…). If you go (and you’re tall) mind where you walk. I nearly bumped my head on a light fixture made entirely from bones (mostly small ones like vertebrae and phalanges). I didn’t see it on the way in and when I was looking around at the room, I noticed it was directly on top of my head. There wasn’t very much clearance Smile

What I did while he was in the bones rooms:




From there, we walked toward the Pantheon. The Pantheon is a basilica and is free to enter. This is another amazing feat of Roman engineering. 2014-04-14-10-16-56_IMG_1855

2000 years ago, they constructed this dome. With incredible mathematical precision. You can’t just build a structure like this and expect it to work. It takes some forethought and it’s amazing to me that they were able to build this so long ago. 2014-04-14-10-18-50_IMG_1863Lizzie and I took a few photos, sat down in the pews, and pondered what happened when it was raining. 2014-04-14-10-23-41_IMG_1872The spot directly under the hole in the dome roof was roped off, but you could see the floor was sloped toward the outside of the building for drainage. And there were several holes in the floor as well. 2014-04-14-10-17-17_IMG_1858

One other thing I found interesting was that the Pantheon itself sits at the same level it did 2000 years ago, and you can tell how much the city has built up around it when you enter. It is clearly a downhill walk into the monument.

After one last walk around the dome, we decided it was time to go pay Alfio a visit. Armed with the video, we strolled in, and he was excited to see us again. He asked if we did it, and we showed him the video. He was thrilled and said "I get you gelato!" Then he stopped himself and said “You mail me?” Sure, we can email it. Lizzie pulled up the email form and had Alfio fill out his address and we sent the video to him. He motioned to us with his hand to follow him and he ran like a little kid to the gelato bar. 2014-04-14-10-43-54_IMG_1876

He grabbed a cone behind his coworkers, and realized it was too loud to talk over the huge crowd gathered in front of the bar, so he walked around the side and asked what flavors we wanted. Lizzie definitely wanted rum raisin, so we got that, and a second flavor.. cioccolato.

Alfio ran back behind the bar like a teenager and accidentally bumped into one of his coworkers, who dropped a ceramic coffee cup he had on a tray. Whoopsies Smile No matter, Alfio was on a mission! He scooped the gelato and made it con crema (with whipped cream), ran out to the side again and gave it to Lizzie.

We met him back around by the regular bar and thanked him profusely. He asked where we were from, and we told him New Orleans. He said he wanted a postcard when we got back. No problem at all! I was about to ask him for his address, but he made a motion like taking pictures, and was trying to think of the word, then he blurted out Instagram! Ha – perfetto!


Lizzie warned him that we will be inundating him with pictures of our city. Maybe he’ll come visit us J We would totally give him some free gelato.

At that point, we figured that perhaps we should get some “real food” and eat dinner (cena). Our plan was simply to walk back to our hotel and find a spot nearby. 2014-04-14-11-13-05_IMG_18842014-04-14-11-12-20_IMG_1879We made the walk back, enjoyed a fine dinner at Tre Puppazzi, and walked back to St. Peter’s for some fantastic twilight photos.


We paid a visit to the porcelain throne back at our hotel, and I talked Lizzie into walking over to the gelato stand where the nuns go (Old Bridge).


There was actually a church group outside saying a prayer over their own gelato. And the place was packed. 2014-04-14-12-31-33_IMG_1942






The portions there were probably the most generous I’ve seen in Italy. The gelato was good, too.

Tomorrow, we’re going to have a tour of the Vatican museum, among other interesting Roman activities. Tune in tomorrow for the summary! Buonasera!

This is the view from our hotel roof. This is how close we were to the Vatican!2014-04-14-12-39-30_IMG_1963 2014-04-14-12-40-26_IMG_1964

Lizzie’s Fitbit: 22,368
Doug’s Fitbit: Gone forever! Sad smile

1 comment:

  1. I keep laughing at Doug's gelato consumption. It's really something to respect!