Rome Days 2 & 3:
On Monday we woke up early enough to be at the Coliseum by 9:30 in the morning before it got too hot out. Good plan, except that it wasn’t early enough to off-set the heat at the Ruins, which we visited second. It was a scorcher and we were touring a dusty plot of land full of old stone, brick, and marble. Needless to say, it wasn't very forgiving in the noon sun. Nonetheless, we wandered around and got a feel for the lost Roman city.
Back to the Coliseum for a second. First, as you know I geek out a bit when I learn cool things about language. So, you can imagine I was very excited to find out that the floor of the Coliseum would be covered with sand before gladiator games and wild animal hunts, and that the word for sand in Italian is “arena,” so I’m guessing you can figure out the rest from there. Truly, the Coliseum was the world’s first arena—finished in the year 80 AD. Would you believe that the floor plan was nearly identical to the modern arenas I’ve been to for games and concerts? Unreal that the original plan has barely been improved upon!
We ended up eating dinner outside at a restaurant not far from the Coliseum. (The bruschetta was delish!) B kept mentioning how surreal it felt to be dining with the Coliseum peeking out at the end of the street like a stage backdrop or something. We tried to take a picture to capture it, but it was hard to do. That’s why I’m pointing!
The next day we took the exact opposite approach to our morning strategy. We lazed about and didn’t leave until 11am, leaving just enough time to travel to the Vatican and arrive in time for our reserved entrance time. Let me just say that it was well worth the extra money to reserve a time. The other folks (who didn’t have reservations) were stuck in a very, very long line that wound around in the sun. The Vatican Museum is the second largest in the world (second only to the Louvre in Paris), and like the Louvre, we found it a bit overwhelming and chaotic. However, it was worth the crowds to end the tour in the Sistine Chapel. Yup, we’ve been there, done that, and unlike the Mona Lisa, it did not disappoint.
We left the museum and walked around the block to St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest Christian church in the world. The second largest is the Duomo in Milan, which we also visited on this trip! We waited in a 30-minute line (in the scorching sun) to be able to go inside, but it was worth it. There’s a reason this church won the award for biggest. It’s humongous! We enjoyed the gilded ceilings and extravagant decorations, we knelt in prayer, and we toured the crypts below. And that was it. It was about three hours since we had started in the Vatican and we were done.
For dinner, we ate at the Hard Rock Café—I know, I know, what were we thinking?! When B suggested we eat there, with that glow in his face, how could I possibly say ‘no’? Believe me, I didn’t suffer. That little bit of “home” tasted good. We’ll have more pasta tomorrow!
In case there's any doubt, yes, he's pointing at a Bruce Springsteen album. Of course!