After a relaxing week in Vienna, we caught an early flight to Rome, the final stop on our European trip. It is also the city in which we will be spending the most time, which is fitting, as there is an almost unlimited amount to see in and around this ancient city!
Our flight touched down just before 8 am and it only took us two trains to get from the airport into the city. Even this early the Italian sun was giving us a very warm welcome.
After spending a bit of time walking around and grabbing some food–and more importantly, coffee–we headed to the place we were staying, dropped our bags off, and did a little exploring of the area. After grabbing a bite to eat and enjoying the sunset in the garden of our lodging, we got some much needed sleep before a couple of activity-packed days.
One of these activities, the first major/tourist one of our trip, was a visit to the Colosseum. This was one of the things I have been most looking forward to on this trip. It’s not only an icon of ancient/current Rome, but also of Europe as a whole, along with the Eiffel Tower, Brandenburg Gate, and Big Ben.
The day began (as most have this trip) with a lazy breakfast and a shower before setting out. We then took the metro, and after about 15 minutes of walking, we turned the corner and saw it; the giant ancient structure imposing upon the modernness of the street full of cars, people, and traffic lights.
Upon approaching the Colosseum, we were a little unsure as to where to buy tickets to get inside as there were countless people outside trying to sell “tours”, so we decided to join the queue and wait to buy official tickets at the ticket counter.
As much as the lines to the many sites are given a bad name in almost every article I’ve read so far about Rome, the queue for the Colosseum went by incredibly quickly.
Not only did the line go by quickly, but we got quite a discount at the counter.
This was because Spencer was wearing a Grateful Dead T-shirt, and the man working the window said he was a fellow ‘Dead Head’ and as such gave us a 10€ discount, which was extremely cool of him, and boosted our already great moods before even entering the Colosseum.
After purchasing our discounted tickets (and using the bathroom), we walked through one of the many Roman-arched entrances into the main area of the Colosseum, and it was better than any picture or video could convey.
I have been in many modern arenas and stadiums in my life, but walking into this one, which was built in 70 A.D. and is almost just as big (after almost 200 years) as its modern counterparts, was absolutely incredible, if those words even do it justice.
Just the thought that each and every stone of the structure was itself placed there by hand was mind-blowing. That, combined with the history of the events that took place here, from gladiator fights to naval ship battles, was indescribable.
All around the Colosseum, there were posts where a certain aspect of the history of the Colosseum (which was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre) was described, which made for a bit of an educational experience as well.
We walked around, enjoying being inside this world-famous structure, and took advantage of the opportunity to try and use our imagination to relive some of the moments that must have happened in that very spot.
We walked around the lower level, then climbed to the upper level, which gave an even better view of what would have been the floor below (the lighter-colored tan platform is where the battles and events themselves would have taken place).
After quite a bit of time reveling in the magnificence and history of the Colosseum, we headed across the street to explore what is called the Roman Forum, which was a large area which I would imagine was full of anxious spectators before events at the Amphitheatre.
Exploring this area was really cool because we were surrounded by what would have been there at the time it was being used, and it was a moment of walking through ancient ruins that one would think of while visiting Rome.
The area included many buildings that were used by the Roman Government, including the building that was used as the treasury, The Temple of Saturn.
All in all, this day of exploring what once was the grandeur of ancient Rome was a complete success, and was one of the moments I had imagined when I thought of a visit to Rome.
Visiting the Colosseum was definitely one of the highlights of not only our time in Rome, but the whole European trip. It’s also not the only site we will be seeing in Rome, so check back next week to see where else we go!