Waking with a full blown head cold, meant a slow start to the day. We ate our millionth (or so it seemed!) hotel buffet breakfast at around 9am and then made our way to the Colosseum.
Although we had pre-booked and printed tickets, lines weren't clearly marked and my beloved and I had to ask at least five people for directions, until we realised we could head straight to the entrance of the monument (I blame the head cold!). We opted to purchase an audio guide (something I highly recommend, along with pre-booking tickets) and climbed the stairs of the ancient amphitheatre.
Quirky fact courtesy of our audio tour:
At some point in Roman history, a beached whale washed up on a nearby stretch of coast, generating quite the local kerfuffle, followed by widespread histeria throughout the empire. In tribute to the event, a Colosseum show involving a giant papier-mâché whale replica was organised - quite a feat, I would imagine, in ancient times. However, presenting a life-size whale was clearly not enough to "wow" Roman audiences. Accordingly, the whale was filled with fifty live bears, who burst out of the papier-mâché beast's mouth upon its presentation to the audience. What the?!?
The Colosseum and surrounding area is rife with ancient history and certainly kept me enthralled!
After a couple of hours on the go, my beloved and I selected a restaurant for lunch with an excellent view of the Colosseum (I know, I know, that's the first rule of travelling - never pick the restaurant with a view!) and had a surprisingly tasty, simple pasta lunch. Walking off our meal, we ambled past numerous ruins, enjoying the remarkable contrast between old and new in the city. Typically, we soon found ourselves face-to-face with a gelateria and...well...just couldn't say no!
Our afternoon involved a trip back to the hotel, followed by a visit to one of the small supermarkets located within Rome's Termini station to stock up on supplies for our early morning train trip. Without solid plans in place for our final night with our travel companions, we were lured into a complete tourist trap of a restaurant (silly me, always wooed by the promise of a rooftop garden!). The food was not altogether awful, but the excessive bread and service charges were quite uncalled for, as was our waiter's disgruntled response when he realised we weren't tipping him €10 and, after initially pulling out a €10 note for our change, placed it back into the cash register and threw down an abundance of silver onto the table. A subtle hint, perhaps? My (tacit) response: no tip, signore! Our last evening together was spent drinking cocktails and playing cards on our hotel's rooftop garden.
It was a real pity that my health wasn't the best during our time in Rome. While we managed to cram a fair bit into two days, I'm sure we could have made more of the experience if I had a bit more energy. I do hope to return to the city (and surrounds) in good health in the near future.