Our plan initially was to hit the Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill first thing this morning. But then we realized we would be sightseeing well into the lunch hour. So we decided to get an early lunch in Piazza Navona (I really wanted to see this this square!). Things did not turn out as we had hoped.
But first we started off at the Scala Sancta (or in Rome the Scala Santa). This is the staircase that Jesus walked up in Pontius Pilate’s house when Pilate washed his hands of Jesus, permitting the crucifixion to proceed. The stairs were brought to Rome in the 4th century and have been a pilgrimage ever since. I know I’m no longer Catholic, but I wanted to do this. Pilgrims ascend the marble stairs (which are now covered in wood, but you could see the marble between the wood slats) on their knees. No walking allowed. There are 28 stairs and you are supposed to say a prayer on each step. Of course, being Catholic, they provide stock prayers for each step, but because I prefer to pray to Jesus and not just repeat prewritten words, I didn’t use those. It was painful. But that’s sort of the point. Jesus went to the cross for us, I can climb 28 wooden steps on my knees. It was pretty emotional, especially at the end/top where there is a hole cut in the wood revealing marble. Some people kiss this, but I just touched it.
I met Mallory back outside and we made our way to the metro and to Piazza Navona. I am glad we went here. It was a gorgeous square with a beautiful fountain. It is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or Fountain of Four Rivers. It was great! We then had a quick lunch of margherita pizza and we had to share a gelato from Tre Spillani (one of the most famous gelateries in Rome). We had a combo of fruits of the forest and chocolate. Yum!
We walked to the Colosseum from there and it took forever to find the ticket office from the direction we approached. Finally we found it (I was worried about time to get through all three areas before closing). The line was massive. I was so glad that we bought the Rome Pass. Admission was free (included in the price of the pass) AND we could jump the line. It was so worth it just to jump the line! The Colosseum was amazing. I don’t know what else to say. It’s ancient and still standing and I don’t understand it. It shouldn’t be, because it’s so freaking old, but it is. Construction began in 70 AD and it was completed in 80 AD. I stood in a building that is very close to 2000 years old. How is that possible? But to imagine what they used the building for, that’s a little different. Not only for gladiator-style entertainment, but executions as well. It’s weird to think about what a Saturday afternoon out at the Colosseum would have been like back then!
After an hour in the Colosseum we made our way to the Forum and Palatine Hill. Upon approaching the entrance, we saw the gates were closed and a sign posted. Due to the strike, the Forum is closed today as of 1:00pm. What? WHAT? So if we had come first thing this morning, we could’ve gotten in? And we leave tomorrow. And we activated the free museum that day at the Colosseum, so I didn’t know if it would even have been valid the next day. But I was NOT leaving Rome without seeing the Forum. So I marched over to the ticket window and explained. She told me we could come tomorrow (today) with the Rome pass. Phew. Now what to do…
We decided to take a meandering walk (not one of Torrie’s “we’re going to be late, we have to MOVE” walk) toward the train station to buy our tickets to Naples. We had decided that because we ended up seeing the site where Julius Caesar was murdered (et tu, Brute?), by happenstance, we would continue to walk and see what we would find on our way. We saw some other ruins (in which we found one cat. Apparently there are cats all over Rome, but I don’t believe it…we only saw one!), which were interesting. And we went souvenir shopping. It took ages to get our train tickets. I will be glad when I don’t have to stand in massive lines anymore. Then it was time for dinner.
We were going to go to a restaurant recommended by my friend Sherry, but unfortunately, Rome’s public transportation leaves something to be desired. There are only two metro lines (though they are currently building a third) and trams. There are buses, but my metro app did not provide bus route information. So it would have been very difficult to reach the restaurant. And I was tired. My feet were killing me. So went somewhere else: San Marco restaurant. It was definitely a win. Good choice by Mallory. We split two appetizers: fried courgette flowers (which I didn’t realize was actually a zucchini flower…it was kind of gross) and bruschetta. Best bruschetta I’ve had. Tasty! I ordered a rigatoni with sage, sausage, and pecorino cheese (which is supposed to be quite Roman, so I that’s why I ordered it). It was good, but I didn’t eat much of the sausage. I preferred just the noodles! It was a good meal, but still doesn’t beat 13 Gobbi!