We left Bernini’s Dutch damaged Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Ugly Boat) below the Spanish Steps.
And retreated back into the Metro to Colosseo. I had been here before with Damon in my youth but we were too cheap to buy a ticket and go in. So we just walked around the outside before heading to the Forum (which in the late 80s/early 90s I think may have been free). I was really looking forward to seeing the Colosseum up close and from the inside.
Tawny and I got in a long line but then realized we had bought Roma Passes which would allow us to skip the line. We headed inside ahead of the masses and hoards, much as the Senators, Vestal Virgins, and other Roman Elites may have done in ancient times. But when we got to the turnstiles our Roma passes were denied and we were sent to another window (short line) to pay a reduced fee. Confused (because we thought our Roma passes would allow us into 2 historic sites or museums) we appealed to the woman in the ticket booth that we had only used our passes at the Borghese Gallery and should have a free entrance to the Colosseum. She agreed with us and went to investigate and confirm with others. Ultimately the verdict was a thumbs down. We had bought the wrong Roma Pass which only included 1 entry. However, it had allowed us to skip an hours long line, pay a reduced fee, and gain quick entry into the Colusseum. Let the games begin:
We plugged ourselves into Rick Steves’ Colosseum tour and fumbled ourselves around the huge stadium in search of the talking point. The views and the stories transported us back into the horror shows and spectical of ancient Roman bloodlust.
After leaving the Colosseum and haggling with vendors over trinkets and momentoes we stood in line for the Forum and Palantine Hill. I remember having gone here with Damon before, but couldn’t imagine we paid for anything. Now there were baggage checks and ticket checks (our Coluseum ticket gaining us entranace) while Rick Steves continued to enlighten us to the sorted history of Roma, its early temples and as the center of commerce and corruption at the hight of the Roman empire.
We strolled through the Forum and Palantine hill before walking outside the ruins and into side streets of Rome in search of lunch near the Capitoline Museums. Unfortunately our feet and thirst gave out at a touristy spot to rest but had a decent Neopolitan pizza and bierra that offset the smell of the sewer vent nearby.
From there we walked down the nearby ally way of Via del Seminario Loyola towards the Pantheon and took a quick side trip into a rather non-discript chruch in front of a small piazza of the alleyway looking for a bathroom. To our surprise we walked into the Chisea di Sant ‘Ignazio di Loyola which houses specatacular perspective frescos and optical illusions painted into the ceilings. But while no bathroom was to be found it was a welcome discovery. But too dark inside to get good pictures.
A few hundred feet further along was the Pantheon. Rick Steves walked us through the history of this amazing architectural masterpiece.
We walked from there through back streets (still looking for a bathroom) to the Trevi Fountain. While it was unfortunate that the fountain was under repair and largely covered by scafolding and drained, the upside was we so desperately needed use of a bathroom we weren’t unduly biologically influenced by a gushing fountain of suggestion.
We hopped a taxi back to our hotel and made reservations at a restaurant suggested by one of the Faculty of our daughter’s school…someplace they had eaten earlier in the week and where we might have dinner prior to picking her up before her classmates headed to the airport. The restaurant was Il Ristorante Peperoncino D’Oro and was very good. We were impressed with the challenging menu – Rabbit, Pigeon, Scorpionfish, etc and couldn’t have imagined our 8th grader and her friends had eaten here. But they did, as did we, and ordered many of the same things. Tawny had vermicelloni pasta with fresh lobster, tomato, and basil. I had paccheri pasta with Scorpionfish threads, tomatoes, capers and fried eggplant. We accompanied with Rome artichokes and a crostini w/a spicy pepper spread which was fantastic. Unfortunately the sauces for us each where extremely salty and while the flavor was good it was just too salty to eat too much and we were running late. We needed to go pick up our daughter at 8:30 so we cut our meal short and left food (but not wine) on the table.
We headed out of the restaurant to walk to the rental rooms for the school and ran into the school principal. He said the kids were still out to dinner and probably an hour away from finishing. So we joined him nearby at a restaurant where he was getting a bite to eat. He was on a break from taking care of several sick children on the trip. Apparently something had been passing through the kids (stomach virus) which Clara had just before leaving for the trip (as did several of her friends) and which Tawny got just as we left Seattle. The faculty had spent the week taking shifts and looking after the sick kids. He looked exhausted but we had a pleasant time hearing about their week of adventures and misadventures before collecting our daughter and sneaking her back into our hotel for a night. The next morning were would be heading out to visit our friends Tom and Heather in Spoleto.