Rome Diaries — Colosseum, Palatine Hill and fun

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Just like all travellers, we had a list of things to experience and do (concentrated around eating) when we visited Rome. The large city is fairly modern with its public transport being easy to follow and use. Each Metro train and bus station has displayed large routes with Metro numbers and bus numbers and their stops printed. As our Italian host jokingly told us that everywhere you dig, you find something of historical value hence there are only two Metro lines in Rome and work is going on the third. So the best way to visit the important sites like Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and others is by a walking tour.

Once you get off at Piazza Venezia, Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Roman Forum are just a short walk away.

You will take an entire day if you wish to see these sights properly. First get your tickets from the ticket window. Don’t forget to get the free tickets for your children. Then head to Colosseum. The massive structure greets you from a distance. Even if you have the ticket you have to queue up for metal detectors and the queues can be maddeningly long especially if you don’t have a ticket. Most places in Italy, if you take a guided tour you do not need to buy a ticket and you get a swift entry. But they are expensive so plan ahead. Don’t forget to haggle to lower the prices. Our Rome card gave us audio guide downloads which were quite handy.

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Colosseum is really a large arena or a stadium which is in ruins now as it was devastated by a fire. There are two floors but tourists are allowed only on the first floor. The second floor and basement can only be accessed if you take a guided tour. The steps are really steep so keep that in mind in case you have elders with you or if you have knee issues. I think there is an elevator too. Walk through the corridors. Imagine the days when the kings held bloodthirsty tournaments here. I really must watch Gladiator again. You can walk around reading the plaques and hearing your audio guides and clicking pictures.

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Once out of the Colosseum, make your way to the Palatine Hill entry. This vast area is among the most ancient parts of Rome and stands 40 m above Roman Forum. It is believed that there were inhabitants even in 10,000 BC here. A lot of walking here and again get an audio guide or a guide to help you understand.

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One funny fact is that there are two ways to enter into the Palatine Hill. One entry is next to the Colosseum which most tourists use hence the queues are really long here.

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The other one next to the ticket office is a breeze. That is the one we used and felt smug. 🙂 Don’t forget the beautiful gardens on the top.

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There are stunning views here and you imagine a time when this place buzzed with Roman Kings many centuries ago. You hear the tales of their grandiose palaces. Of course, since the ruins have been excavated, you cannot really see the grandeur. You also see the Roman Forum which was once surrounded by government buildings in ancient Rome. There is a lot to see here.

As you walk back to the Piazza you come across invisible men.

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and even Cupid himself. 🙂

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There are benches if you wish to rest.

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Don’t forget to pop into this Monument called the Vittoriano or Unification Monument of Italy . It has an imposing statue, fountains and a burning flame to commemorate the memory of the unknown soldier. They will not allow you to sit or keep anything on the steps leading to the top. There is a lot of police presence here. Best to get in, look around and come out quickly.

Having spent an entire day with people from many centuries back, we headed back. It was a warm, sunny day. A beautiful day actually and it was the perfect day to be outdoors.

Tips:

  • Don’t forget to buy your skip-the-line tickets in advance online. I have heard that in Italy people offer to queue up for you for a small fee. How innovative!
  • It really makes sense to have audio guides or guided tour or you will not be able to make out much.
  • Each of the sights requires a minimum of 2-3 hours of walking so do keep snacks and water handy.
  • While Colosseum has toilets, the vast expanse of Palatine Hill does not.
  • Also remember that most entry tickets only allow you one entry so you can’t come out for a lunch break and go back in again.
  • Eating out is expensive in Rome. You will also have to pay or buy something for using the toilet.
  • You could do a hop-on hop-off pass but most of the buses will only drop you at the same Piazza I mentioned. There are some smaller buses with limited connectivity to the narrow streets of old Rome.
  • Each building is marvellous so take your time while walking around.
  • Each sight throngs with tourists. Early mornings are a good time to visit when the crowds are much less.

When eating, walk in the lane to the right of Colosseum and you will find cute pizzerias. Pizzas are cheap and filling and we could not have enough of them as they were sinfully delicious. We loved the Marguerita which is basic cheese and tomato and so tasteful. You also get a lot of vegetarian options in pizzas, pastas, paninis and even main courses. Most of the waiters can pick Indians out. Namaste is what they will greet you with. And then there was this band which serenaded us with Chura liya hai. They got the tune right and a few words too. They addressed us as Vijay and Sunita from the movie. 🙂

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Then we discovered this little gem, La Dolce Vita, that serves home made gelato. This lovely Italian mama serves you with love and a bright smile. She gave us three flavours in one cone all for a princely sum of 2 Euros. And she gave some extra ice cream to the younger son. As a matter of fact, almost all gelato places gave him extra ice cream. The perks of being a child, I guess. 🙂

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Oh and in many places they charge you extra to sit and eat.

Italy is notorious for graffiti. Everywhere on every conceivable place! Here I leave you with one such. 🙂

 

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Next post will take you to Pantheon and Trevi Fountain.

32 thoughts on “Rome Diaries — Colosseum, Palatine Hill and fun

  1. Italy is s country I wish to take time and visit… Last time we were in Germany, we couldn’t as the tickets were too expensive .. Tell me, is it more expensive than the rest of Europe? We had found Switzerland very expensive as compared to Germany or France even.. Where did you do your trip planning from? Actually, I’ll ask you everything in detail when I’m planning for my trip there:) for now, I’ll see it through your posts ?

    • I would say it is as expensive as the other places. The entry fees to the attractions are step but it was the same in France as well. We did all the trip planning ourselves. Since many people have asked, l will do a post on trip planning after the travelogues where l’ll mention everything we did and what worked and didn’t work for us. Of course you can always reach me directly. 🙂

    • Oh yes, they are! They have things streamlined but the biggest pet peeve is toilets. Paid ones in most places. No drinking water either. A lot of people do this fun things for money.

  2. Unbelievable! An Italian band singing Chura liya!

    Looks like you had the right balance of walking around and eating. So I’m sure the amount of gelatos and pizzas you had will not make you feel guilty 🙂

    • Yep, quite amazing. In Europe people do a bunch of innovative things for money. They sing, play instruments, draw etc. and expect you to pay them. We walked so much that our feet hurt and we hogged and hogged guiltless. 🙂

  3. So Bollywood has Italian street bands enthralled too 🙂 At least some pop cultural invasion, or shall we say, colonization by Indian soft power! Looks like you had quite a grand time exploring Roman history and devouring Italian delicacies.

    My father-in-law worked in Rome for a couple of years, but I never got a chance to visit when he was posted there. Some useful tips there in case I ever decide to visit Rome, though it doesn’t seem to be on the radar anytime in the near future!

    • I think these guys are good at capitalizing on their little knowledge of Bollywood to enhance our experience and making some money for themselves. Oh I loved Rome. I can go back and live for months. I wish you had gone when your full was there. This is completely your kind of place. So much history and culture. In many ways they feel similar to India with a first-world convenience.

  4. A historical city is always a tourists paradise….the colosseum kind of reminds what power can do to humans…. Make them forget their humanity! Sigh!….very informative post Rachna

    • I had the same feeling when I heard the history about the Church’s atrocities in the Middle ages. Yes, it always serves as a good reminder of how power corrupts people. Thanks, Jaish. Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Will you get bored if I say “lovely post” again? 😀 I think this is the best thing about bloggers travelling. They give you each and every detail with amazing pics too. Wow!

  6. I love the Colosseo. Can never forget my trip to Rome. Every single day I was there I had to go admire it 🙂 brilliant work and what a piece of history still out there on the streets! Thank you for sharing, brought back my 2012 memories!

  7. I have always wanted to see the Colosseum and maybe someday 🙂 I was following your FB feed Rachna and I am sure you had a such a lovely time off after the horrible flight fraud last time.
    If I visit that part of the world, I am going to reach out to you 🙂

  8. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder says:

    Italy is on my bucket list for a long time. Let’s see when can we make it! I can guess the excitement of imagining a tauromachian spectacle going on in the Colosseum. You have captured some wonderful moments and, the tips are really of help. I’m bookmarking this post of yours. It just has ignited the traveller spirit to a full extent! … 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Maniparna. I want to document these memories forever because I just loved this trip. So glad to help others experience those moments.

  9. The Colosseum is absolutely majestic. Those Romans knew how to do things in some style. That cupid was my favourite though – a skirt with red hearts Lol! All we saw were some Gladiators. No match, really.

    • I think the really touristic places know how to capitalize on their visitors. One refreshing trait was that no one haggles or harasses you. An average Italian is aloof yet friendly when engaged with.

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