Monday, July 4, 2011

Ancient Rome in a Day

We had a late morning breakfast procured at Forno Campo Dei Fiori, which one guide termed "the best bakery in Rome", amidst all the market stalls in that square.  I especially liked the squash blossoms that everyone was selling.
Squash Blossoms at Campo dei Fiori market

 Then we set out for a long day of touring.

We walked across town to the Capitoline Hill and through the Piazza del Campidoglio, a pretty square designed by Michelangelo in the 16th century.  Then we headed over to the Colosseum.  Now, the regular ticket line there is really rather long.  But I had made reservations for the special basement or subterranean tour, and so we were able to head right up to the front of the line.

The subterranean tour was pretty cool - I like tours that take me behind locked gates and cordoned off areas!  We descended into the basement where the gladiators entered and the slaves would keep track of all the wild animals to send up to the main stage level.  Then we wandered up two flights of stairs to the third level which was also not open to the general public.  Some really nice views from up there.

Then we headed towards San Clemente church, looking for a well-recommended Sicilian gelato place - alas, they were closed on Mondays.  We enjoyed San Clemente though - it's a medieval church with beautiful mosaics, but the really cool thing is that you can descend under the church, and see the 5th century church that it was built on top of.  Then if that's not enough, you can go down another level and see the 1st century pagan church that was the first religious building in that location.  So it's been a house of worship for over 2,000 years.

After a quick stop at a sub-standard gelato place, we headed over to the Roman Forum, the heart of the Roman Empire back in the day.  It reminded us of the main ancient road surrounded by ruins at Petra.  The House of the Vestal Virgins was a favorite.

Narisa with her favorite Vestal Virgin
Exhausted, we headed back to the apartment for a rest.  Of course, we happened to stop for gelato on the way...

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