Rome, Italy; Day 3

Today’s Italian adventures started with French Toast in our apartment. From there we did a famous sites 5K. Our first stop was the Colosseum and then to the Roman Forum.

We were a bit hot and tired from the walk there – but as we approached the walls of the ruin our spirits lifted.  Our first glimpse of the Arch of Constantine showed us we were in for a treat and then the walls of the Colosseum itself became visible.

Walking up to the Colosseum

Neither Brian nor Tiffany have been to Rome so they were anxious to learn about the history and architecture. It is also one of the places the kids asked to see so it’s wasn’t terribly hard to get them hooked on the audioguide. We used Rick Steves’ free version today which is pretty kid friendly. It’s not overly filled with dates and names and there are a few jokes in there too. We spent about an hour wandering the halls and arches. There was a good sized crowd but no lines so we felt pretty lucky.

The Colosseum
Walking the halls listening to Rick Steves

It’s sometimes very obvious why something earns status as an iconic monument and this one is a perfect example – despite its gruesome use. Completed in 80 AD it was the largest ancient amphitheater and remains the largest one standing today. Unlike other amphitheaters built on the outskirts of town, this was built in the city center. The city has grown around it for almost 2000 years and it is Rome’s biggest tourist attraction.

Remains of under the ring

We got another good view of the Arch of Constantine from the second level before we headed off to our next stop.

The road leading just up the hill from the Colosseum goes to the Roman Forum.

The Via Sacra (Ancient Rome’s main road) going up the hill

The Forum is now several acres of (mostly) ruins of temples, columns and statutes. In many places there are still active archeological excavations underway.

For centuries it was the heart and soul of Rome – the center of daily life. Have a beef with your neighbor – get justice in the Forum. Need a permit for a new house – get it at the Forum. Running for office and want to make a speech – you guessed it, stand up at the Forum.

We had Rick Steves accompany us again and learned a lot about the former glory that these ruins represent.

All that history made us famished! As we walked home, we ducked into an alley to a lovely sidewalk trattoria for what we fondly call ‘linner’. It’s that full meal you eat way after lunch time but eay too early to call dinner. The kids ordered pizza – which is not unusual and it might be all they eat in Italy.

Brian and Tiffany ordered a liter of house wine and, um, also some food. But we also helped with the pizza.

We thought the wine would lubricate our brain cells. We tried all afternoon to come up with a good joke for ‘A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum…’ but since it’s only about 300ft nothing actually funny happened and we couldn’t come up with a single thing to pretend happened. Oh well, it’s a reminder that we don’t make our living in comedy.

We ended the day with our first taste of authentic Italian gelato. It was sweet.

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