The Colosseum & Other Really Old, Awesome Stuff | Day Three in Rome, Italy
You can't afford to sleep in late in Rome — there's too much too see. Our third day began with an early-morning commitment to tour the Colosseum. The walk from our hotel was about one mile, so we set off by foot and watched the rest of the city wake up. Children were heading to school, restaurant owners were unloading fresh produce — it made it easy to imagine what life is like here on a day-to-day basis.
We arrived at the Colosseum just minutes before the gates opened. No one was even in line. This was something to celebrate. The lack of lines and large crowds of tourists is a major perk when traveling at the end of January.
We bought our tickets, got checked by a metal detector and quickly entered the archaeological heart of Rome. By some sort of luck, we were the first visitors to enter the arena of the Colosseum. For a matter of minutes, we had it all to ourselves and it was incredible. Everything was still and silent.
Standing in the midst of it, it's almost difficult to wrap your mind around the reality of what this place used to be. Humans would fight humans, animals would fight animals, animals would fight humans — all in the center of this arena, entertaining thousands of Rome's citizens. It's also hard for me to understand the entertainment value in watching people die, but I guess that's a lifelong question many people have.
Nonetheless, the Colosseum is incredible, as was our experience in it. We spent a good amount of time admiring it from all angles. Outside, inside, top level, arena level — there's something new to be impressed by every time you switch viewing locations.
The Roman Forum is located directly next to the Colosseum, so we naturally worked our way through there next. It's a rectangular plot of architectural fragments and excavations from Ancient Rome. This area once served as the center of public life in the city. I felt cool knowing that I was walking through a space where Julius Caesar once stood.
After we hit all of the major ancient sites, we began casually winding through the streets with no real destination in mind. We visited churches, so many churches. You do almost start to get burnt out on churches. The thing about churches though, is they are all unique. So it's hard for me to pass on without taking a peek inside, because you never know what you will find in there.
Just in time for lunch, we made our way over to the Jewish Quarter of Rome. We had a lunch that was so authentic and delicious, I was far too distracted to take pictures — which I now regret, of course. The tiny restaurant seemed popular among locals, as most people in there were elderly Italian-speakers. We were sat at a four-person table with a Canadian woman who was dining solo. We had a great time sharing Rome stories with our new friend.
The waitressed placed menus in front of us, which were hand-written on a piece of paper. THIS makes my heart and my stomach so happy. They hand-write the menu everyday, depending what ingredients they have and what is in season. The way food should be done.
After an incredible meal, we crossed the river to Trastevere — Rome's super-charming neighborhood, filled with more delicious food. We had a post-meal espresso and then I decided I needed cookies. On our first night in Rome we went on a food tour that had taken us by a famous Roman bakery. No joke, I dream about these cookies and can still taste them in my mouth. I will go back to Rome just for Stefania's cookies.