In February of this year we were lucky enough to spend a long weekend in the beautiful city of Rome, Italy. We’ve always wanted to travel to Italy and experience the ancient city, all the history and romance of Italian culture, so we took this opportunity to really try and experience as much of Rome as possible. Firstly we wanted to do all the classic tourist routes and spots, but equally as important to us was to try and get lost and find ourselves a Rome that you wouldn’t find on the page of Tourism Guide.
After an easy flight from London we pitched up at our Airbnb which was located in the heart of historic Rome. This beautiful private flat in a classically kept gated community was a stones throw the ruins of the Roman Forum, which in turn meant that we were ideally placed to experience Ancient Rome and were exactly 400m from the Colosseum. We began by getting our bearings and decided to explore the area around us known as Rione X Campitelli. This area of Ancient Rome is home to some of Rome’s most famous and incredible buildings; walking just around the corner from our flat we were on top on the Roman Forum, which in its hay day was the centre of Rome’s government buildings, temples and a vibrant public area. These astonishing ruins are something to behold, confusing as the geography has been somewhat lost amongst the remaining structures and the less durable remains. But what took us by surprise was the sheer size of these buildings, which was only surpassed by the realisation that they were hundreds of years old and were built and constructed by hand!
A short walk from the Forum is the Piazza del Campidoglio, a stunning courtyard which is bordered by three equally stunning buildings which now house the Capitoline Museums. Walking down the Cordonata, grand stone steps, on the main road we arrived at the right hand side of the Piazza Venezia, home to the Vittoriano. This incredible marble building has many impressive attributes and stands proudly at the head of Via dei Fori Imperiali, or to you and I, the road that leads to the Colosseum. However, our favourite attribute of the Vittoriano had to be the Terrace of Chariots which stood at the back, which had giant iron horse drawn chariots at each end, lording over Rome like Roman gods!
We then walked up to the Colosseum, which did not disappoint. I think the only way I can possibly do this amazing building justice is to simply say you have to see it for yourself! As we walked around the circumference of it, sadly it was closed for the day when we were there, our conversation bounced between Gladiators, Emperors and the splendour it would have been to see when fully constructed. Its easy to see how it is described as the worlds first stadium as it does rival many stadiums today. The complete enormity of the Colosseum is breath taking, our eyes scanned every crack and every shade of stone oozing with history. Again our conversations came back to how on earth such a building was completed, by this stage we fancied ourselves quite the engineers so reckon we could figure it out, but in truth if you do look hard enough you can see the different stages and ages of which the Colosseum was built and birthed giving some indication as to how such a mammoth building has lasted so long.
Our day ended with a lovely walk along to the Circus Maximus, which is now a vast open space where once stood a large stone and marble arena capable of seating over 250,000 people. This giant of an arena was where chariots racing took place and truly was a site. To this day the dirt sand track can be made out and walked on and opposite is Palatine Hill on which stands the ruins of a vast Roman palace and Rome’s second ever temple, Temple of Apollo.
To be continued…….