City breaks are anything but relaxing for me. I want to cram in as much as I can while I’m in the city. However, despite my best intentions, I am apparently incapable of getting up and out early! Anything before 11am is an accomplishment, and today’s 10.30am departure was a new personal best. Never mind that we’d been aiming for 9am…
As our last full day in Rome, today’s plan was chock full, and we made our way straight to Campo Di Fiori market, via my new favourite – Piazza Navona. After listening to a jazz band play Despacito for a while, we soon arrived at the market and were a bit unsure. With no real expectations, we couldn’t be disappointed, but we were thinking it’d be like the markets we usually visit that are filled with an abundance of food stalls. Here, however, many of the stalls were fresh fruit in snack pots, dried pasta or oils. There were a few other stalls with cheese, general market tat or flowers, but overall we weren’t blown away by the market. Maybe we did have some kind of expectations, as it had been recommended as the best market in Rome. Never mind, we’re still glad we visited and got to see some of the best sales tactics from a man selling what looked like an amazing kitchen gadget that I had to convince my boyfriend not to bulk buy and gift to every single person we know. Sorry Mum.
Cracking on, we decided to wander along the riverside, crossing at Isola Tiberina, an island in the middle of the river home to a hospital. On the same small island is a church, so I draped a scarf on my shoulders so we could pop in and have a look quickly before carrying on to find the Mouth of Truth. Mirko, the wonderful man at the hotel, had added this to the list of recommended sights, and when we arrived at the place he’d circled on the map, we weren’t too sure what we should be looking for. No signs, just a couple of old worship places dedicated to old Roman gods. Resorting to Google to find our way, we realised what we were actually looking for, and realised the church it is housed near was just on the other side of the road! We joined the short queue, and reflected that if we’d visited in our usual off peak period we probably wouldn’t have been in a queue. Never mind! In no time we had taken our photos and were shepherded into the accompanying church. Comparatively plain to many of the other churches we had visited in Italy, we had a brief look around before making our way to Circa Massimo, the open park area that was once home to chariot races and public games.By this point, we’d walked quite a distance and it was starting to get hot. Wandering through the park, thoughts turned to finding a snack and a cold drink. Preferably one that made a phwosh noise as you popped the too-cold-to-hold can. Making our way to the Colosseum, we were approached by two traditionally dressed Roman gladiators. I am 98.4% sure they weren’t real gladiators, and instead were sent to annoy my boyfriend as I was convinced to pose for photos before being asked for €20. I had a quick laugh at the audacity, before saying that I’d give a couple of euros or just delete the photos as I wasn’t that bothered. After my annoyance yesterday at the tour touts by the Vatican, I was in no mood to be scammed, so dropped a couple of euros in the hand of the annoyed ‘gladiator’ and happily carried on with my day.
Still in dire need of a cold, refreshing drink, we bought our tickets for the colosseum at a booth with a short queue – which grew considerably in size after we’d joined it – then wandered off to find somewhere nearby for a drink, bite to eat and a toilet stop. In no time, we were fully refreshed, had a biscuit in the bag for on-the-go-snack requirements and were back at the Colosseum. At such a large tourist attraction, there are the usual tour sellers. While it usually works to just tell them you already have a ticket, my boyfriend decided it’d be more fun to be a bit more creative with our replies.
‘Hi, English? Would you like to join our tour of the Colosseum? Tickets are just €30′
‘The Colosseum? What’s that?’
‘The…what? Oh…ok bye’
Much more fun!
Picking up our audio guide, which we shared to save some pennies, I absolutely loved the tour of the Colosseum. Although much of it isn’t as it was back in the day, the fact we’d previously visited Verona Arena which still stands in great condition, I was able to visualise how the Colosseum would have been in it’s prime. There were some areas we were unable to visit as they were only for certain tour groups, but were still able to see and learn a great deal about the world-famous landmark.The ticket for the Colosseum also included entry to a few other nearby sights, including Palatine and the Roman Forum. Unsure what either were, we joined the queue regardless and enjoyed a wander around the grounds. With so much history here, I wish we’d grabbed an audio guide instead of just opting for the information pamphlet, but time wasn’t on our side, and I don’t think we’d have seen as much as we had if we’d stopped to listen to the audio guide at each step. Definitely one for next time I’m in Rome!After walking as much of Palatine as possible in the time we had, we quickly saw the Roman Forum, which is probably much less than you imagine it to be, before leaving and wandering past further additional ruins just sat by the side of the road. Making our way back towards the hotel in the light of the sun setting, I had that feeling I have in so many other cities – I could live here. I love this place!As we wandered along the shopping street of Via del Corso, we decided it would be wise to do a quick shop for a coat as we were off to Barcelona tomorrow and the weather there wasn’t looking great. Of course, we hadn’t packed any coats because we thought it would be good weather…rookies. No luck with shopping, we quickly gave up, instead opting to look for somewhere to enjoy our last meal in Rome. How had 3 days already passed so quickly? Settling for a table at NUMBS, close to our hotel, we enjoyed a delicious Italian treat while a street performer serenaded us with Amy Winehouse hits. Sounds cheesy, but as the sun set it was the perfect way to end this Italian adventure. Back to the hotel, we planned to pack as much as possible before the morning so we’d have time to visit the Castle of Angels. Of course, we did no packing and instead fell to sleep super early. Oh well, tomorrow it is…