Today was the final day of our tour as we’ll be flying home tomorrow. What better way to end our trip than being around over 2,000 years of history in Rome? It was nice to see our local guide, Joanna, again. She took us through the Vatican Museums yesterday and then to the Roman Forum and the Colosseum today.
The tour started with an overview of the Roman Forum from a great overlook point. We learned about how this area was the center for finance and daily life for Romans over two centuries ago. It is mostly ruins at this point, but some of what remains is being used as the structure for newer buildings, creating an interesting contrast. Even in its current condition, it’s not hard to see how amazing these structures once were, considering the limited technology used to build them.
Continuing on our tour of ancient Rome, we then visited the Colosseum. Luckily for us, Go Ahead arranged for us to skip the huge line and get right inside without waiting. (We were able to do the same at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican yesterday. We’ve definitely saved hours of time not having to wait in line.)
The Colosseum, like the Forum, is a shell of what it once was. But the structure it is so iconic (and has been rebuilt so many times in famous movies), it’s actually hard not to imagine what it used to look like. Joanna pointed out some remnants of the marble floor tiles and intricate ceiling decorations that are still visible.
After our guided tour was over, I felt like I needed to continue exploring these areas. But before doing that, I decided to check out one more spot Derek, our Tour Director, had mentioned. There is a small (by Roman standards) cathedral named St. Peter in Chains that holds another of Michelangelo’s sculptures, Moses. This sculpture was build in 1545 and sits atop the tomb of Pope Julius II.
After St. Peter in Chains, I had a quick walk to Palatine Hill. One of the first things I noticed when I arrived is the Flavian Palace. It was once the home of Roman Emperors and due to its location high up on the hill, it allowed them to look down on the Roman Forum, Colosseum and Circus Maximus. The hill also has many excavated churches and other buildings that give you a great sense of how people lived their lives here so long ago.
Even though this had already been the most action-packed day of the tour, the thought of a night walk through the city, especially one that included gelato, kept me going. When Derek told us that Rome is most beautiful at night, he was not exaggerating. With stops at Piazza del Popolo, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and the Piazza Navona, it almost seems that these places were designed to be seen at night. The lighting really makes them come alive at night and made for some great photo opportunities.
In the middle of the walking tour we stopped at the famous Giolitti for gelato. They had endless flavors and I had an enormous cone of tiramisu, coffee and hazelnut. Gelato is much lighter than ice cream and it’s easy to see why it’s everywhere in Rome—it made me wish it was more popular in the U.S.!