Things to See in Rome
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Things to See in Rome

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Things to See in Rome

My first day in Rome has been filled with wonderment and excitement. There is so much to see in this wonderful city that I think I’ll end up breaking my camera from using it too much.

There are so many things to see in Rome!

My flight left from Nuremberg around 08:35ish and it was very fast. Like, an hour and fifteen minutes. The highlight of the flight was flying over the Alps of Austria and Italy. Not even the high clouds could keep those snow-covered peaks hidden. It was beautiful. Naturally, my camera was in my checked luggage (read over-sized rucksack).

The airport I landed in, Fiumicino airport, is about 20 kilometers away from the city center, so the only thing I saw while landing was smog where the city is supposed to be. Not a good first impression, but understandable for a city the size of Rome with its primary mode of transportation being cars and mopeds. Another thing that shocked my dull American mind was the fact that there were hills everywhere. I thought of Rome as generally flat for some reason. But it’s all built on hills, which has quite a beautiful effect.

When I arrived at the airport I took a look at my options for transportation to the city center. I saw billboards everywhere displaying a bus shuttle company for 8 Euros… Hmm, not bad, I thought to myself. I decided to go check the train station first, however. After claiming my rucksack, I made my way to the train station info center and asked the man behind the counter how much for a ticket to Rome Termini, the main hub station. He said, “It is possible for 14 Euros”. The accent is something new to me as well, something only heard before in movies, now come to real life.

A note on the language itself. It’s beautiful and I really enjoy the sound of it. As far as reading is concerned, it actually isn’t too difficult. It contains a lot of English words that can be quickly deciphered. If the languages of Latin and English had made love, they would have had an Italian. That’s what I was thinking when I heard people speak it today. It sounds old yet romantic. I was carried away to another time while I wandered around and looked for the things to see in Rome.

Snapping back to reality, I opted for the bus shuttle for 8 Euros… I can’t really beat that. And a Taxi would have cost something like 45 Euros, which is out of the question. While at the airport I also purchased a Roma Pass Card for 25 Euros. I know, I know before you say anything about costs I had to think about this purchase a bit. About it’s worth… And let me tell you, it’s worth it. You get:

  • Free entry to the first two museums or monuments, and discounted entry to all other participating places.
  • Free transportation (metro, bus, OR tram) Except for the airport. For THREE days! That saves a bundle.
  • Reduced charge for tourist health care, if you need such things.
  • Check out their website for other information on the Roma Pass Card.

The costs for the things to see in Rome, I noticed, can add up quickly, which is another reason why I got the card. I will have to choose carefully, however, due to my tight budget, on what I will get to see. A lot of places are just beautiful on the outside. But the Colosseum. . . oh my.

After a thirty-minute bus ride to the Termini station in central Rome, I gathered my rucksack from beneath the bus and fished out the map of Rome that came with my Roma Pass Card. It looks a lot like London from above; a bunch of squiggly lines everywhere, with no uniformity whatsoever. Some of the newer sections of Rome have more, modern “blocks”, but the old areas are a madhouse. This is gonna be fun, I thought. Not more than two minutes later, I spotted another traveler staring stupidly at a map. I confidently walked up and asked “Where are the things to see in Rome?” like I could give him directions or something. He had a bit of a strong accent, coming from Jordan and he pointed to the map and said something that sounded like Colosseum. I said “Great! That’s where I’m headed, want to come along?” He smiled and nodded and we ambled our way down the street.

Traffic is insane in this city. I’ve read it a thousand times, and now, you are reading it from me. Do you think the drivers are bad in your city? They don’t even obey crosswalks. If a driver thinks he can squeeze his Italian-made FIAT through a 3-foot space of tourists, by golly he’s gonna try. Moped riders are even worse; I almost got hit by one. All the other travel bloggers say to find a nun and cross the street with her because apparently drivers won’t dare hit a nun. Well, I haven’t seen a single nun all day. Maybe I was just in the wrong part of town because believe me, I was looking for one!

I-can’t-remember-the-dudes-name and I made it to the Colosseum in due time, all the while trading our cameras back and forth so we could take pictures of each other. He was really a nice guy, but when I asked him about his home country, Jordan, he got all depressed and said something about war. I had a hard time understanding him but I felt what he was trying to convey. It’s not a good time to visit.

When I got to the front of the Colosseum (it’s a giant oval… I know, I mean the entrance), I was accosted by tourists’ traps galore. Everyone was selling their own version of porcelain miniature Colosseum replicas. Postcards and maps and I <3 Rome shirts. I really wanted some postcards but I thought that one postcard for 1Euro was a bit steep. I hit the mother-load though when I came across a seller that had a 20 pack of postcards for 1Euro! That’s well worth it in my book and I don’t even have 20 people to send cards to. I’ll keep them for future use.

Flavian Palace
Flavian Palace

The Colosseum was beautiful. Of course, I got free entry when I scanned my Roma Pass Card at the front ticket counter and I took along a free pamphlet to read about certain facts of the giant structure. If you have the time, really read the history and get to know what the Colosseum was. Actually, it was originally called AmphitheatrumFlavium which is Latin for Flavium Amphitheater. But the name Colosseum came from the statue that was erected in front of it, Colossus of Nero, hence Colosseum. Hollywood has really done a number on how the old games were played and how Gladiators behaved, etc. It is now believed that the signal thumbs up for letting a gladiator live and no thumb (there were no thumbs down) within a closed fist to signal the death, didn’t actually mean what we think it means. How do you discern all those thumbs, among 20,000 spectators, when you can barely make out the face from across the arena? It can’t be explained, so they think now that Gladiators were not haphazardly killed off as it was believed. Gladiators were a huge investment to their handlers. A majority of them started off as slaves, bought off the market, and then trained. Sometimes it took years to train them and a lot of money went into such an undertaking. Clothing, food, and shelter. And, which is not depicted in the movies, the gladiators earned money from each game, especially if they won. The Roman Empire was full of paradoxes… slaves that could earn money? I was a bit perplexed at this.

Enough with all that history! You need to go check out this beautiful monument. I can imagine in my head how it might have looked in its prime, gleaming with marble and filled with spectators. The roar of the fans as they cheered on their favorite gladiator. Eating cooked flesh of the animals that were killed as part of the sport. Hot Dogs, Get your Hot Dogs!! I know, bad joke…

After the Colosseum, I walked over to Palatine Hill, the most ancient site of all of Rome. Just below the hill is the Roman Forum, Flavian Palace, which are all accessed by walking through the Arch of Constantine. The whole place is beautiful, with old marble pillars lying about everywhere, the ruins belying the true beauty that once gripped Rome’s ancient past. So far, I think you need to add this city to your bucket list of must-see places before you die.

 

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