*Backing waaaaay up! The “print your blog to a book” site I use is having a sale, so I am going to try to hammer out my remaining few spring break recaps ASAP!*
Tuesday, March 22
Our first full day in Rome! (See my Travel page for all the recaps from our 1st week in Ireland, plus our arrival day to Rome on Monday 3/21.)
On the agenda: The Colosseum and the Roman Forum
The Colosseum was one of the few places on the trip that I had bought advance tickets. I had read that lines can be horrendous, so I really wanted to avoid that, especially with only a few days in Rome. I bought tickets for 10:30 a.m., to allow us a relaxed/ not rushed morning.
There are several different ticket options for the Colosseum. It actually took me a while to sort them all out and figure out what we wanted. The cheapest option is just the plain entrance, no guide, no extra access besides just wandering around inside. Then they have an option for “General Access + ARENA access”, meaning you get to go down on the bit of reconstructed arena floor (i.e. where the gladiators would have stood). Then there are options for private guide tours, group tours, and also an “underground” tour that takes you underneath, where the animals were kept and the gladiators would have waited.
I thought the Underground tour would be cool for the boys, but the tickets sell out fast. When I looked a month or two before our trip, I couldn’t get any. So we settled for the General + Arena option. I considered booking a guided tour, but ultimately decided to just go with our free Rick Steves audio guides, for more freedom and flexibility.
First though, let me back up a little.
Morning in Rome
(I’m going to try something different in this post- adding time stamps! I feel like I sometimes get comments from people along the lines of how do you fit so much stuff in on a trip?! So I thought it might be interesting to follow along the timeline of our day.)
7:25 a.m – tea!
I started the morning on our hotel’s rooftop terrace with a cup of tea. It was a BEAUTIFUL blue sky day!! YES!! Always am so grateful for good weather on vacation. (It was quite chilly, however, at 7:30 a.m.)
Everyone kind of slowly rolled out of bed, had coffee/tea and then we all took turns taking showers, getting ready, and packing up for a day out. I always enjoy allowing an hour or so in the morning on vacation to just relax a bit, if possible. You know, scroll through the phone, maybe post some pictures on Facebook, check out the maps of where we’ll be going, etc.
By around 9:20/9:30 or so, we headed out. We wanted to stop for breakfast on the way to the Colosseum.
The plan was to head toward the Colosseum, keeping an eye out for a good breakfast spot.
We ended up stumbling across a little cafe very near the Victor Emmanuel II monument. This was a favorite of mine!! I got a panini, and it was so good. I also just really enjoyed sitting on this little stretch of sidewalk, in the sun, on a beautiful morning in Rome. I have some distinct memories of this meal. 🙂
9:45 a.m. – breakfast
I also really like this picture of me and my Dad:
We had to go inside to order, and the people working there did NOT really speak English. I felt so foolish stumbling around, trying to order in Italian! (Which, unfortunately, I just don’t speak!!) Struggling with language is definitely a pretty novel experience for us English speakers, I will admit. Probably a good thing for us to experience now and again, because it’s a frequent reality for so many other people! 🙂
After breakfast, we had to get moving to our Colosseum ticket slot.
Passed the huge monument to the 1st King of Italy:
And got a sneak peek of the Forum:
Everywhere you look in Rome, you might see random ruins at any time. Crazy!
It was a short walk to…..
The Colosseum! The one and only. 🙂
When you go to a place like this, you really need to just PAUSE for a minute and let it soak in. The history is astounding.
We got in the line for “people with tickets” and went through security. It all moved quickly, and before we knew it- we were inside the Colosseum.
We fired up our Airpods and started our audio guides. It begins outside, and then takes you through the hallways, before leading you to the many viewing points of the actual arena.
The photo opportunities were endless. What can I say.
We paused to listen to our audio guides, slowly making our way through. I am glad we could move through at our own pace, versus with a group guide. I sometimes find it hard to even hear what they are saying on those tours, with so many people around.
Our upgraded Arena tickets allowed us access to the special arena floor. The floor itself has disintegrated over the years, but they reconstructed a portion to simulate what it would have been like.
Here I am standing on the arena floor, looking down beneath where the floor would have been:
A great group shot, thanks to some other random tourist we photo swapped with!
Next we moved into the “museum” section. It’s not a full museum, but just various exhibits that were very informational.
Full transparency- the boys (well, Asher) were not particularly engaged in this part. They had already listened to the whole audio guide, and just were not really cooperating with reading these museum spreads. I was rather annoyed about it, because they were very interesting!! There was some GREAT info there. Asher especially kept kind of glancing at them and just breezing on to the next one/ going ahead. I felt they were old enough to stand and read them- after all, they were missing school to be on this trip…. But I finally kind of gave up and let it go. Oh well. Ethan was more into it, at least.
We circled up to the upper level then, looking back down on the arena floor we’d been standing on:
I think this one might need to be part of the Christmas card- so cute!
And they wanted solo shots…..
My Roman history loving kid, and the one who made it happen for him 😉 :
This a cool shot of the arena:
We finally felt we had seen the Colosseum from about every angle possible, including checking out the surrounding views from the upper level.
And, the ruins of the Temple of Goddesses Venus and Roma!
12:25 p.m.- outside the Colosseum
Our Colosseum tickets included entrance to the Roman Forum/ Palatine Hill, so we planned to spend the afternoon there.
First though, we decided to fuel back up with some lunch.
1:00 p.m- Lunch
We picked a random restaurant located in between the Colosseum and the Roman Forum that had outdoor seating.
It was a nice break after the ~2 hours spent touring the Colosseum.
We didn’t linger too long at lunch, as I knew the Forum was huge and would need a good amount of time.
2:00 p.m.- Arch of Constantine and Roman Forum
The Arch of Constantine is very cool. It was dedicated to Emperor Constantine the Great and a major battle victory. Under Constantine the Great’s rule was when Rome began to transition to Christianity as the dominant religion, as well.
From here, we started our self-guided walking tour. Again we used the Rick Steves app. Really enjoyed being able to start and stop as we desired.
I wish I could sit here and regurgitate all sorts of detailed information about this amazing site, but alas, I cannot. I am sure the many factoids are somewhere deep inside my brain, and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing them all at the moment. But let’s just go with this: The Roman Forum was the epicenter of Rome in its heyday. It included major government buildings, as well as marketplaces and other socially important locations, temples, and more. It was “the place to be”, and where all of Rome’s action took place. It must have been an incredible site to see.
We spent almost 3 hours wandering around. It’s huge.
Then we trekked up the hill to the Palatine Hill area. This is basically the ruins of Rome’s “best, most desirable neighborhood”. It was where the aristocrats and emperors lived.
We didn’t have as much on the audio guide on Palatine Hill, and my pocket sized guidebook was lacking some. 😦 It would have been nice to have some more info on this whole area- which was also huge and sprawling.
There are some great views looking down on the Forum from the Palatine Hill side.
I also took this great shot of the Colosseum, from a bit of a distance:
5:12 p.m.- Out of the Forum and down the street, gelato in hand
We needed a little break after all the touring. The boys wanted gelato. We stopped at a place near the Victor Emmanuel II monument, but unfortunately, many places in that area didn’t let you sit at a table unless you were going to pay for “table service” prices (much higher/ included a waiter, etc.). We ended up ordering ours to go, although we would have liked to sit and rest our feet and enjoy the view.
We headed back to the hotel to regroup for a bit, eating our gelato along the way. At the hotel, we spent an hour or so just relaxing. I freshened up some and just had some tea and rested.
6:45 p.m. – Headed back out for the evening!
We didn’t have any big evening plans, exactly. While the rest of us had rested a little, Ivan had taken Asher to get a haircut, of all things, from a Roman barber shop. (Asher had refused a haircut before the trip, but he really needed one.) I didn’t go along, but apparently that was kind of a fun and interesting experience!
7:00- The Pantheon
We had agreed to meet up outside the Pantheon a little before 7:00.
We couldn’t actually enter, because it closed at 7. (It wasn’t far from the hotel at least, so we would go back to tour it in the morning.) I wanted to see it lit up at night, though.
7:10 p.m.– Trevi Fountain
From there, we headed to the world famous Trevi Foutain!
Passed several “frutterias” selling fresh fruit…. so cute!
You can hear the roaring of the fountain before you even see it.
One of my favorite places in Rome!! Tucked in between a bunch of other buildings, it’s this amazingly impressive yet cozy site.
We bought the boys some likely overpriced sweatshirts from a gift shop right in front of the fountain:
The Trevi Fountain area is always jam packed with people. We did sit and just take in the sights and sounds for maybe 30 minutes or so.
7:52 p.m.- Church across the street
We peeked into a church right across the street. They are all just so beautiful! I don’t even know what the name was of this one.
Trevi Fountain square:
Our last “destination” on our little self-guided Rome nighttime walking tour was the Spanish Steps.
8:16 p.m.- Spanish Steps
It was a bit of a walk. Our feet were getting a little tired by this point, and it was actually kind of cold out. But, we rallied and made it over there, because I knew it wasn’t going to fit in well at any other point really.
I would have liked more time to explore this area, because it’s a very trendy, up scale section of Rome. Lots of FANCY shops and stuff around here.
We finally arrived at the top of the steps.
I wanted to recreate this photo from our 10 Year Anniversary trip to Rome, in 2017, on the Spanish Steps:
We didn’t spend a lot of time here- just took some pictures and walked down the steps, basically. It was almost 8:30 and we still needed to have dinner!
I could not love this picture of my parents more if I tried:
9:25 p.m.- Dinner!
Kind of by necessity/ kind of by planning, we had a rather late dinner. We knew this was going to be a full day of sightseeing going into it, so the late dinner just made sense.
We were definitely HUNGRY by the time we left the Spanish Steps though. And cold. And getting tired.
Fortunately, we kept the ever popular “Let’s Pick a Restaurant” game to a minimum and chose a place pretty quickly. No one was feeling overly picky at this point. Is it warm? Is it Italian? Does it serve food? Sold.
Most of us got pasta this time- I went with a pasta carbonara and wine.
Headed back to the hotel! Finally! WHAT A DAY!
We all pretty much collapsed into bed I think by 10:30 p.m. or so.
I was so glad the boys had their own room at this hotel! Ivan and I put the TV on and lounged in bed for a while just unwinding. We saw so many incredible sights, it was hard to really process it all, in a way. I felt pretty overwhelmed with excitement for having experienced all of those historical sites with the boys. 🙂
*This might be my longest post ever! But oh well! I decided to forge ahead and get this whole day into one post. Hope you enjoyed following along. 🙂