My days in Rome start at 9 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m. It is more than 12 hours of endless walking through cobbled streets, only to stop in between for food and drinks. Roma, as Italians call it, is without a doubt a beautiful city with pale white walls and history at every turn.
It is not just Colosseum and Roman ruins that makes Rome unique. If you are wandering there is high chance that you will come across disintegrated castles, a ruined theatre built centuries ago or a dilapidated church in the middle of the city. And this is what I Iiked about the city. You get your dose of history without having to pay for it.
Hardly anyone goes to Rome just to roam around, do they? For such tourists who come on a week trip to Italy with an itinerary to cover length and breadth of the country, Colosseum and Forum Romana are obvious attraction. For 12 Euro, valid for two days, you can visit both the places and that is money well spent.
As history goes, Colosseum was a place where gladiators fought, people as well as royalties thronged. Now, centuries later the fate hasn’t really changed – it still draws people from across the world. Within the monumental building you have museum where excavation findings of Colosseum are displayed. These tell you that it was a place where men and women gathered to enjoy gladiator games making it sort of like a picnic with food. Information about how it was built, its architecture and seating arrangement are available there. If you have enough patience to read, historic findings will tell you much more than that. They show you what it was like to be during 80 AD when gladiators fought each other to death on the then largest arena known.
When you enter into the seating area of Colosseum that overlooks the grand centre stage, forget the crowd and just close your eyes. You could hear shouts and cheers of close to 50,000 people on stands. Their tension is palpable even centuries later. When you open your eyes, sometimes you are left with an illusion of what you just imagined and come out with goosebumps. That is Colosseum for you.
After I visited Colosseum, Roman Ruins was next on my list. It was around 2 p.m. when I entered ruins of imperial Rome. If the glimpse of the ruins fascinated you, it was nothing compared to when you enter the ruined imperial roman town. A good search at google will tell you that the ruins amidst Piazza Venezia and mount of Campidoglio was a business centre of ancient Rome, where royals had their residence amidst acres of gardens, priest quarters, churches, vineyards and small villages.
Along with the ticket you will get a map with over 50 locations marked. Do not be fooled by the way it looks once you enter. It is spans acres and you might want to take sometime to explore if you are a history junkie. Since directions given in the map are not accurate, it takes time to figure out few of marked locations. There are options to hire a hide for 20 euro but then again, it takes fun out of exploring.
I made the mistake of doing it the same day as Colosseum at noon and it was enervating. It is better to get an early start, around 8.30 a.m. when it opens and finish it by lunch time. It is better to pack a snack and water bottles to combat the exhaustion. For, depending on interest, it many take just 3 hours to 6 hours. I could hold out only for 4 hours and had to miss few location due to sheer exhaustion.
Despite handicap of summer heat, I could immerse myself in the atmosphere of what once was. The charm of ruins was irresistible. It is the remnant of what I have only read in history, dating as far back to the BC. It was the city the brothers, Romulus and Remus created after their descend from Palatino hill.
Rome the way it is now is a tourist hub and has embraced modernity. But the broken-down churches and disintegrated imperial city is very much a part of it. It is this picture of perfect harmony that I took with me, when I left Rome after five days.