Waking up in Rome is quite a different experience from waking up in Paris. In Paris, you hear cars, you hear the subway, but you don’t hear many actual people. Parisians themselves are pretty quiet. But this morning, I didn’t hear many cars when we woke up. Oh, but I heard lots of people: people singing, men calling out their fruits from the market stalls, women calling out to people on the street while they hung up their laundry, waiters and bakers setting up their cafés and starting their pizza ovens. Rome is a much more lively city in the morning.
It didn’t take long for the three of us to find some prosciutto paninis on our way to our first stop, the Coliseum. It had started to rain a bit, which added to the somber feeling as you looked out over the vast stadium, trying to imagine the thousands who fought and died here for the entertainment of the Roman Empire. The seats of the Coliseum have since been lost to time, and the floor has been removed, but it only takes some imagination to fill in the holes. Plus with the floor gone, it is easy to see the gladiator’s chambers below the stadium, a maze of small rooms and narrow corridors where the men would have trained and waited for their day on the stage above.
Without any real plan, we wondered around the Coliseum, looking for something to catch our eye. The Coliseum is in a very central location of what remains of Ancient Rome, and so Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum, half a dozen of triumphant arches and innumerable ancient temples stood just minutes from our location. It took a long time to see as many as we could walk.
After seeing the changing of the guard at the Altare della Patria near Trajan’s column, we looked inside the Pantheon before finding some good gnocchi for dinner. Along the way, we also stumbled upon a wood carver’s shop selling Pinocchio’s, a story I did not know was originally Italian.
Morgan, Miguel and I are eating well on such yummy Italian foods, which will be good for us tomorrow – we are making the trek out to the Vatican. And then we will be on the road again to continue our journey to the north of Italy!