Taken from Palazzo Venezia
I’m ashamed to admit we committed a sacrilege that last morning: with no breakfast booked at our accommodation we hit the city in search of food and for ease and convenience and in the name of budgeting we fell into a Mc Donald’s for the first time during the entire trip.
I’m hanging my head in shame but we couldn’t face yet another pastry and we didn’t have cooking facilities, it was close and it was cheap, justification over!
Adequately fuel, there was only one place to start our final hours in Rome: the Colosseum.
I find historical structures mind-boggling, not just for the architecture but also for the human footfall these places must have seen. If a building could speak what tales would it tell? The Colosseum has lived through more than 2000 years of history, it’s incomprehensible. Think of what has changed in that time, and it still stands, what changes will it see beyond my years? When I’m gone, I have no doubt that it will still be there. Like I said mind-boggling stuff!
Once the hight of entertainment for local Romans its appeal ran out by the 6th century. It was abandoned and used as a quarry for other buildings in Rome. The Colosseum was subjected to the weather, neglect, and vandalism, all decorative items were removed. restoration began in the 90s and continues today.
Top tip: My advice here ( that we didn’t follow) would be to book your tickets online if going in is important to you. We hadn’t anticipated the queues, we’d been told that on Feragosoto: Italy’s bank holiday, that the city is quieter.
I’m not sure who told this person this but they were seriously misinformed as were we. The queues at 11 am, just to buy a ticket, were over two hours long with a further hour and a half queue to get in! We just didn’t have the time to spare, which left us with no choice but to admire from the outside and regale the children with stories of sword-wielding gladiators and heroic deaths to the sounds of jeering crowds.
From here we took a walk alongside the forum and up Palatine hill and spent some time in a church, we lit candles for those people who have gone and are missed before moving on with our day. I wanted to show the children where the chariots raced.
The circus Maximus captured the imagination, I painted a picture of horses and cheering crowds, chariots moving at deathly speeds, it went from nothing more than a dirt road to an opportunity! We thought, in hounor of those fearless drivers we too would have our own race- all be it on foot. I became the finish line and Mark the starting gun and to the sounds of our cheers, Eva and William ran like never before in the Italian August heat!
In its day I imagine it was as crowded and as exciting as going to watch the Grand Prix .
With the race over, I then proceeded to inform the children of the ‘Mouth of Truth’. My explanation of losing fingers to this stone orifice was met with worrisome gazes, I could see every lie big and small being relived on their little faces and I had to chuckle before explaining it was a myth with no truth behind it ( I’m a parent being mean is allowed for your own entertainment, just ask my parents the story of the coal on Christmas morning. I’ve still never forgiven them.)
The Bocca della Verita’ is five foot 9 inches wide, more than 2200 years old and weighs 2900 pounds (you wouldn’t want that to land on your toe!) It’s 2€ and a long queue to have your picture taken taking your chances.
Sadly the queue here was also longer than we had time to spare. If all you’re concerned with is seeing it and not putting your digits in its mouth you can just peer through the railing and take a picture. Otherwise, I’d say book online, that seems to be the way now, to avoid long queues or disappointment, very different from the last time I was in Rome.
There is one thing you can do in Rome, which is always worth a bit of a queue and you’re very unlikely to be disappointed, your only regret might be how quickly the experience is over and that is, eat gelato! You cannot beat Italian ice cream and this time the price was far less eye-watering than in Florence. We paid a reasonable 3€ per person for two flavours.
Perfectly parked Vespas outside the palour, the colours grabbed me.
I savoured every delicious bite, it was to be the last gelato I’d enjoy for quite some time. We took an amble back towards the Colosseum and went to visit our last location: Piazza Venezia and the Palazzo Venezia.
The Palazzo Venezia is commandingly impressive, yet in a city as vast as Rome, it appears perfectly placed and doesn’t look overpowering on its surrounding buildings or dwarfed- it just fits. Known as the ‘wedding cake’ I can see why it gets its nickname, the stark white marble, pencil straight pillars and topped with statues, it does certainly feeds that idea. We climbed the many stairs to gain a birds-eye view across the city, and yet again I found myself surveying thousands of years of history, it felt humbling and I got a little choked. We’d arrived on a day when the museum was closed which disappointed us but the children weren’t overly fussed about walking around a stuffy museum with a rumbling tummy. We took our pictures walked around the terrace and went in search of sustenance.
We didn’t have time to seek out a tantalising feast, we were hungry and like sand, time was running through our fingers. We fell into an Irish bar, ate something almost unpalatable before returning to the hotel to get our bags.
Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself. Very true words
And so that was it, our holiday was over and all that remained now was getting the train back to Pisa airport. Had time and funds allowed I think we’d have all kept going but we had other adventures waiting for us back home.
A word of caution: at the train station buy your ticket not from the machines but from the ticket office. I say this not because the machines are difficult to master, on the contrary, you just choose your language and off you go but because there are many unscrupulous characters that dress in the same colours as station staff but they aren’t. They are con men out to befuddle the tourists. Despite me asking the question more than once to the ever so helpful gentleman that rocked up to our ticket machine if he was paid by the station to assist, he said yes. He insisted he was indeed station staff, then it turned out after he’d taken over our ticket buying that that wasn’t the case and he wanted money. When we wouldn’t give him any, we were greeted with a mouthful of Italian abuse.
Thankfully, he was all hot air and allowed us to walk away, I did try to speak to a member of staff but it became an impossible exercise and so we let it go and got on with locating our train.
The kids got a ‘tour’ of the cockpit when our train broke down
Unintentionally I had chased my grandfather from his birthplace of Rio Marina on Elba to his childhood home of Rome. He’d crossed my mind often during the holiday and I hope where ever he is now that he is pleased that I went in search of a little of his history.
With our stamped tickets in hand, we bordered our train – it was time to go home.