We arrived in Rome late on the 23rd of December so we just got some dinner near our hotel and headed to bed early. My first experience with authentic Italian food was amazing. We ate at this little restaurant on Via Flavia where the waiters barely spoke English. Always the best restaurants in my opinion! I had a Caprese salad with aubergines, a salad, and bucatini all’amatriciana, all followed by a fruit tart. I might’ve gone just a little too far but it was incredibly worth it and all of it was so delicious. I always forget to take pictures of all my food but I did manage to take pictures of the pasta and the tart!
The morning of Christmas Eve, we awoke early, ate breakfast and headed over to the Roman Forum and the Colosseum for our tour. It was amazing to see the thousands of years of history in person and brush up on my decade of Latin classes! Below are some of my favorite pictures and some cool things I learned! We stayed there for maybe two hours but I could have walked around for days. Tip: If you see the Forum while in Rome, I definitely recommend getting a tour guide as the signage throughout the space is sparse and hard to find!
|Where Caesar was supposedly originally buried!
|You can see how the columns were made here
|An old fountain
|The seagull that literally followed us around all morning
|This hut village, on the summit of the Palatine, is usually linked to the
foundation of Rome. It is suggested by archaeologists and ancient
writers that this is the place where Romulus (the founder of Rome)
lived! SO cool!!
|Atop the hill
|Original marble floor. Such pretty colors when it’s wet.
Makes you imagine what it would look like completely
polished in Ancient Rome!!
|“Stadium”. Most likely just a courtyard of the Flavian Palace.
It’s exact purpose is not known.
After a quick lunch of pizza at a touristy restaurant (we, unfortunately, didn’t have much time to eat), we headed back to the Colosseum for the next half of our tour.We got to bypass the enormous line and with our tour, we got to head to the level of the original floor of the Colosseum (instead of just viewing it from above) as well as the area underneath the Colosseum and the very top of the Colosseum. Definitely the VIP treatment. It was so amazing!!
|Recreated stadium seats (in white are the originals)
|The path in
|The underground path
|Instead of the curved arch, they used the flat arch with the keystone.
It saves space and is more practical.
|SO many cool little paths. There is an underground tunnel
(not pictured) that led directly to the gladiator school.
|Most likely where they kept the animals
|You can see the floor line. All of this would have
been covered. And incredibly dark!
|Small oil lamps used by slaves underneath the Colosseum. Imagine
how little light they let off! Definitely a job in the dark that led to
|Views from the top!
|Nero, the in-house cat that followed us around!
|I didn’t know this beforehand: the Colosseum was
a site of Christian pilgrimage. To this day, the pope
visits it on one of his processions (maybe for Easter?)
I’m still in disbelief that I got to see the Forum and Colosseum in person! It has always been on my bucket list and it was amazing to see in person what I have studied for almost ten years. I’m also a history nerd and it was so cool to see all the layers of history excavated, and how the Romans just kept building on top of everything. It is a testament to my previous educators to see just how much of what the tour guide brought up I already knew. Definitely a nice refresher and definitely solidified my decision to be an archaeologist in a second life.
After heading back to the hotel, we got ready for our Christmas Eve dinner, which was fabulous. Naturally, I only took a picture of my appetizer because I was too busy enjoying the rest of my food.
After dinner, we headed off to the Pantheon for Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. We arrived at around 10 and the exterior was empty but little by little it started to fill up. Naturally, we wasted time by having a photoshoot (Michael wanted to be a model?) and then piled into the fast-growing crowd. I knew at that moment I was becoming British when I became exceptionally angry at the queue jumpers. Seriously, people who were just arriving were pushing themselves straight to the front. Not cool!! The crowd was also so aggressive and tightly packed that I began to have a panic attack. Not the best way to spend trapped.
As the doors opened a crack, there was a massive communal push for entry. But it was a false alarm. When the doors finally opened fully, people were running for the seats that were close to the front altar. Wow. Luckily my mom was one of them, so we all got seats! We didn’t exactly stay the whole time, maybe a half hour. Michael, who goes to a Catholic school, noticed they were doing the super long version of the service (all in Latin I might add, so we understood nothing) so he was not about to stay the whole time. Plus the incense was aggressive. But it was a really cool short experience (after I finished my panic attack, that is)!!