Upon arrival to the grand Termini Station, we exited onto the streets of Rome to head to our nearby hotel. We dropped our bags with a sigh of relief. It was our last intercity train trip.
We decided to head out straight away to make the most of our time in the wondrous city of Rome. We headed towards the attractions by foot, and soon approached the first of many, many ruins to be encountered in Rome. The Temple of Hadrian has an imposing façade which sits over the Piazza di Pietra. It was built in 145 AD and is still standing tall.
We stopped for lunch whilst navigating the incredibly busy laneways. We shared a pizza and a vegetable risotto, the latter of which was much different to the risottos encountered here in Australia, and rather delicious.
We followed the crowd and realised we were in front of the Trevi Fountain, although it was rather difficult to come to this conclusion because the whole fountain was covered with hefty scaffolding. However, I’m not sure why we were so surprised, this far into our heavily scaffolded peak-season trip!
We trod off frowning, but not for long. We had soon approached the magnificent Pantheon, by far the most beautiful and well-preserved of all the Roman ruins. It was built sometime between 27 BC to 14 AD and then rebuilt around 126 AD. The building’s portico features several large columns, but the interior is a domed rotunda with a gaping hole in the centre of the ceiling. We visited on a sunny day, and a halo of sunlight was entering the building through the hole and gave the room a natural spotlight. The repetitive texture of sunken square panels on the ceiling along with the warm glow of sunlight entering through the ceiling gives the dome’s interior the appearance of a dawn painting.
Delighted sighs out of the way, it was time to continue on our walk. We accidentally came across another ruin, the Largo di Torre Argentina. These ruins were discovered in 1927, and are now the home to several stray cats. This is also the place that Julius Caesar was assassinated.
We then encountered the Piazza Venezia, which displays the grand Altare della Patria, a huge altar built in honour of an Italian king. The altar houses a museum, but also backs onto the ornate Basilica of St Maria. There was a great look-out point to the side of the altar and church, where we were able to get our first glimpses of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.
It was time to go home to rest, as we were pretty exhausted. That night we headed out to a nearby bar and watched Costa Rica beat Italy. Alex upset many of the locals.
Our next day commenced with a visit to our favourite Italian supermarket to buy dinner in advance. We spent a long time at the supermarket, mainly waiting to buy food at the deli. We had a great time watching little old ladies argue with each other, and then later with the deli men, and then the deli men with each other. The two men at the deli were named Mario and Luigi. These factors really made our morning. We dropped off our food at the hotel and decided to get the train to the other side of the city. It was our Colosseum day.
After a cosy experience on the Roman metro, we exited at the Colosseum train station and there, in front of us, was… more scaffolding. Hidden behind the scaffolding was the incredible Colosseum. This attraction was build a little later than the Pantheon, around 70 AD. We admired the outside of the amphitheatre for some time. We had bought our tickets in advance so were able to skip the massive queue and walk right in. It is such an interesting place full of rich historical anecdotes. It was curious to imagine the horrible happenings that had once occurred there.
Across the way from the Colosseum is the Roman Forum, which is a huge open space that is full of ancient ruins. It was once the hub of Rome.
Our final morning in Rome was spent in a quiet suburban area in the north-western part of the city. This area houses the MAXXI Museum, an architecture and contemporary art museum, which is designed by Zaha Hadid, Alex’s favourite architect. The museum was… interesting. We much preferred admiring the building’s architecture rather than the interior galleries.
We spent the afternoon resting at the enormous Villa Borghese gardens, which also had a nice view of Vatican City. It was lovely to get away from the hustle and bustle of a very busy city, and also to reminisce about the lovely time we spent in Italy, eating delicious dishes and admiring ancient buildings.