“Rome will exist as long as the Colosseum does; when the Colosseum falls so will Rome; when Rome falls so will the world.” – Venerable Bede (medieval monk)
Like the day before, our second day in Rome started with breakfast at our hotel. The staff was very apologetic because the chef was on vacation during the first few days we were there so unfortunately, they couldn’t serve any hot dishes. It wasn’t really a big deal since even without the chef, the breakfast buffet had cereal, pastries, cheese, tomatoes and cold cuts which was more than enough to get us through the morning. That being said, we were happy when the chef finally came back so we were able to have some eggs and hot dishes during breakfast on our last couple of days in town. As a side note, can I just say that dairy products in Italy are just the best? I have been severely lactose intolerant for most of my life but for some reason, my daily intake of milk, cheese and gelato while we were in Italy didn’t give me any stomach issues at all. Amazing!
Because we weren’t sure how to navigate Rome’s transportation system and because we were running a little late, we ended up taking a taxi to the Colosseo Metro station where our morning tour was supposed to meet. What a cool moment that was when the taxi drove up to the station and the Colosseum finally came into view. WOW.
We had scheduled a combo tour with Dark Rome which includes the Colosseum Underground Experience and a tour of Palatine Hill. We were so glad we liked the tour we had with them the day before because we had a few more tours scheduled with Dark Rome while we were in town. We like them because they are organized and they have really knowledgeable guides, a win-win for us since I am not a fan of chaos and inefficiency and Michael loves learning facts about everything. I keep telling him he should apply to be a contestant on Jeopardy since he’s so good at remembering random facts, but that topic is for another day. We had to go through a security checkpoint to get in. We were told by the tour guide that they weren’t allowing visitors to bring in any type of liquid into the Colosseum so we had to empty (or throw out) our water bottles outside. Don’t even try to sneak them in or convince the security personnel that you only have small containers (i.e. perfume, vape e-liquid) with you. Believe me, they will have you throw it out. That’s what happened to one of the girls who was on our tour. If you’re going into the Colosseum, just leave all your liquids at the hotel. Trust me on this.
As you are walking inside, take note of the different colors of the walls around you. For almost 2000 years, the structure has absorbed exhaust, pollen, algae and fungus from the air turning it’s once off-white walls almost black. To help restore the Colosseum to its former glory, Tod’s(the luxury leather goods company) signed up to foot the $33-million restoration bill. Such an undertaking might take a few years though because restoration efforts are only done in small areas at a time, which I suppose is great for the thousands of tourists who are still allowed to walk its halls while restoration is ongoing.
Because we were part of a special tour, we had an actual Colosseum guide (aside from our Dark Rome guide) assigned to take us to sections that usually weren’t open to the public. After the security area, our first stop on the tour was to one of the platforms on the main floor, which most tourists aren’t allowed to get access to. While there, the guide gave us some tidbits about the history of the Colosseum and then gave us a few minutes so we could take pictures.
Dark Rome offers a number of Colosseum tours but we chose the Underground Experience one because we thought it would be cool to, as they say on their website, “hear the echoes of Ancient Roman civilization as you journey through tunnels where lions and tigers once roared from their cages and gladiators sharpened their swords”. This was where we headed to next. We were excited because for the longest time, access has been denied to the underground level of the Colosseum and now, it was finally open to the public. And it was fantastic! The guide showed us the dark tunnels and crevices where animals would’ve been kept before the battles. They also had a replica of the mechanism of pulleys and ropes that they used in the ancient times to lift up animals and gladiators to the main floor of the arena. It was fascinating walking in the footsteps of these legendary creatures of the past.
Our next stop was at the ‘third tier” level, which hasn’t been open to the public since the 1970s. People with disabilities, breathing problems or difficulty with mobility should take the elevators since the stairs going up to this level is very steep. If you have the chance to go up here, do it! The views of the Colosseum, as well as the nearby Palatine Hill and Roman Forum, are just breathtaking!
We spent the last few minutes we had inside the Colosseum walking around and taking more pictures. If it hasn’t been obvious by now, I take a LOT of pictures during our travels. I like reminiscing and looking through them when we’re at home, especially during those (seemingly) long months in between trips. It helps keep the cabin fever at bay. Ha! In case you are going to the Colosseum, plan to go there early in the morning because the place is completely packed by midday. You will end up wasting away your whole morning just lining up to buy tickets and getting through security. Even better, take a group tour! They have their own entrance so it’s faster to get in, plus the guides know where to take you to see the best views. There are so many things to see in Rome that it will be a shame to waste your precious time waiting in line.
After our Colosseum tour, our Dark Rome guide proceeded to take us to the Roman Forum, passing by the nearby Arch of Constantine. There were so many notable sites in the area but my favorite was the House of the Vestal Virgins. The vestal virgins of Rome were charged with 2 things: tending to Rome’s sacred fire and protecting their virginity. If either was extinguished, it was believed that Rome would fall. They were some of the most important and powerful women in Rome at the time. It was also fascinating to see the ancient sewer system which is still used to this day; the Via Sacra which is the widest road in the Roman Forum and was used by Caesar’s army as they marched home from war; and the memorial grave to Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar was cremated so he isn’t really buried at this site, but it is said that it is here where the general was betrayed and stabbed to death by rival Roman senators. It is pretty easy to miss so keep an eye out for the small unremarkable structure.
Our guide was really knowledgeable and gave us a lot of information about the lives of people in ancient Rome, including the powerful politicians of the time. Unfortunately, we couldn’t really focus on what she was saying because the sun was shining down on us and we were melting under the direct heat. There were rest periods during the tour when the guide would give us a few minutes to sit, but there were rarely places of shade to hide from the sun. It’s a little difficult to take part in the tour when you’re trying really hard not to faint from dehydration.
After we had gone around the Roman Forum, we proceeded to head up Palatine Hill to see the ruins from the House of Augustus and the Stadium of Domitian. Even if very few ruins are now left of the previous structures, you can still imagine how beautiful and massive these palaces were in the height of Roman power. It must’ve been a sight to behold!
It was so hot by the time we got to Palatine Hill that we were a little glad when the tour finally ended. Maybe we’ll take this tour again but next time, we’ll make sure to go on a day with cooler weather. If you’re ever in Rome during the summer, make sure to always bring water with you. You will need it. And don’t worry if you run out, there are fountains all over the city offering safe potable water. Just fill’er right up!
After our busy morning, we had a lovely lunch at Amedeo Ristorante which also had very good reviews online. I don’t remember what exactly we ordered, but they look really good in the pictures we took, don’t they?
We then headed to Roma Termini to take our half-day tour to Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este. See our post on our day trip to Tivoli here.
After spending the afternoon walking around Villa d’Este and Villa Adriana, we were ready for dinner. Out of all the restaurants we were going to in Rome, we were most excited for Aroma. It is a Michelin-starred restaurant at the rooftop of Palazzo Manfredi. We were given a table in the terrace which offered breathtaking views of the Colosseum. It was so romantic!
Scala di Spagna (Spanish Steps)
After dinner, we took a cab to Piazza di Spagna to see the Spanish Steps. We found out when we got there that the area was closed and people weren’t allowed to go up the steps because they were restoring it. The 10-month cleaning and restoration bill was funded by Bulgari, and was scheduled to finish a month after we were there. Too bad. Even though it was closed, we could still see how beautiful the area is. We will just have to go back to Rome to go up the 138 steps to the top.
If you’re able to go there when the steps are open to the public, notice building no. 26 on the piazza which is the Keats-Shelley House where John Keats, a famous English romantic poet, died of tuberculosis at the age of 25.
Piazza di Spagna
Be careful of pickpockets and street vendors when you’re in this area. They are very pushy and very aggressive. This one guy wouldn’t leave us alone until I took a rose from him, even after many refusals from both me and my husband. I finally got exasperated and took it from his hand, then he proceeded to harass us asking for money for the flower. We ended up just giving him €1 so he’d leave us alone. I live in New York so I don’t get rattled easily, but that situation really unnerved me. I understand that they’re trying to make a living, but they really should know to stop when people say “No”. Despite the unfavorable situation, we decided to just shrug it off and head towards the Trevi Fountain which was one of the sites we wanted to see the most in the Eternal City, hoping to salvage the rest of our night.
Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio a Trevi
Across the Trevi Fountain is the Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio a Trevi church that is best known for the 22 embalmed hearts of popes contained inside. Unfortunately, it was closed when we were there but it might be an interesting thing to see for some people.
Fontana di Trevi
Our last stop that night was the Trevi Fountain and it was AMAZING. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always dreamt that one day I would meet the love of my life and he would take me to Rome so we could sit on the edge of this fountain and watch the world pass by. It finally happened this past summer.
The fountain dates back to ancient Roman times, and is named as such because of its location – at the junction of three roads. The 85-foot tall and 65-foot wide structure rotates almost 2.8 million cubic feet of water every day. We stayed in the area for a while just listening to the sound of the flowing water. After a little maneuvering and squeezing through the crowd, we were finally able to get a spot by the middle so we can thrown coins into the water. Legend has it that whoever throws a coin over their shoulder into the fountain ensures that that person will return to Rome. Can you believe that almost €3,000 is thrown into the Trevi Fountain every single day? Wow! What’s more amazing is that the money taken from the fountain is actually donated to a charitable organization called Caritas, which helps fund groceries for those in need in the city. Such a great idea! After we had our fill of picture-taking, we decided it was time to cap off our night with some yummy gelato at a nearby gelateria.
Despite the chaos and the noise in the Trevi Fountain, we had a wonderful time. It was magical and everything I’ve ever dreamed of. Best night of our honeymoon, by far!
If you need it, here is our original itinerary for our second day in Rome, including our half-day trip to Tivoli. We would love to know if it helps you during your trip. HAPPY TRAVELS!
Itinerary PDF: The Traveling Route-Rome 2
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