Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Palentine Hill and the Colosseum

It took us a little while to make it to Rome's most famous sight, the Colosseum.  This incredible structure towers over 150 feet into the sky, covers more than six acres, and held and estimated 50,000 to 80,000 people.  The Roman's built all this in only eight years, from 72 AD to 80 AD.  Impressive!

We had a bright but blustery day and although we enjoyed the sunshine, the wind had a cutting chill.  Per Rick Steves recommendation we walked past the long line to enter the Colosseum and started our explorations with the non existent ticket line into Palentine Hill.  This is the area just northeast of the Colosseum where the palace of Caesar was.  Shops and other dwellings also filled this upper crust center of Ancient Rome. The kids had the most fun playing with giant pinecones, peeling bark off the trees, and climbing up to pick wild oranges (which tasted awful).  We also found a hot chocolate machine to warm us up.

Maggie, "When we went to Palentine Hill it was really cold.  Dad got us hot chocolate from a machine conveniently located by the water fountain.  We got 1 cup and it was SO good!  I think we are getting less selfish because we all waited our turn for a sip patiently.  It was American hot cocoa and tasted SO good.  Then we saw an orange tree and I climbed it to get 2 oranges.  The tree had thorns kind of, but it was fun."

A view from the ruins of Palentine Hill, the Colosseum in the
background.  You can see it was super bright and blustery.

The Arch of Titus was built to commemorate Titus's victories including the siege age Jerusalem in 70 AD.   The inside of the arch depicts many of the spoils taken from Jerusalem including the menorah, the table of shew bread and other Jewish treasures.  It also was very inspirational to other arches that followed, like the Arc de Triumph in Paris.  
Unfortunately by the time we wandered our way in and then back through the maze of Palentine Hill, we missed getting into the Colosseum by about 5 minutes.  They were closing early because of the the slow season and we didn't know.  Fortunately our tickets were good for two days.  So we decided to take our newly opened afternoon and catch some more piazzas.
Looking out towards the Roman Forum.
And back towards the Colosseum from the
west end of the Forum.

We thought we would try a highly rated piazza not too far from where we were.  The walk to the Piazza Venezia was quintessential Roman.  We found these buskers playing a trio of accordion music along a sprawling sidewalk with a barrage of ruins and really old apartments behind.  We love the buskers!  Their music fills the street with life.  We listened to the guys above for at least ten minutes.  They loved to see the kids enjoying their lively tunes, and were more than happy for us to squeeze in between them for a photo.
The piazza itself was really just a giant traffic circle but it was in front of the Victor Emmanuel Monument, which is an impressive structure with giant winged chariot riders on both ends.
A little down time in front of the Victor Emmanuel Monument.

In Rome they have public water fountains all over.  They are cleverly disguised as nonchalant streams of water erupting from the sides of buildings, so at first we didn't realize their use.  As soon as we found out that the water above the moss filth was good to drink we took full advantage.
We found a couple water fountains that kept us going along the way back to our favorite Piazza Navona.  We photo opted with a few buskers, listened to some music, and then grabbed some classic Italian.  All in all our little legs walked about 7 km and by the end we needed some sugar to motivate us to make it all the way back to the metro.   Luckily there was a treat shop called  Giolitti's that fit the bill quite nicely.

I post this picture just so I can remember
this boy's laugh.  He is SO fun!

Fancy Italian treats, YUM!
Max, "On our walk to the metro station we got a treat.  I got a ball with a ton of sprinkles.  It was brown, but tasted bitter/sour for some reason.  After getting off the metro we sleepily went into our car and when we got there we fell asleep almost instantly.  We had a good day."

Because it was a consecutive two day ticket, we had to head back into Rome and actually get inside the Colosseum the next day.  
Max, "When we got there it had grown into a fine sunny day.  We went to the Colleseum and the line was a mile long, but we quickly passed through security in the "already has tickets" line.  First we navigated towards the floor which had disappeared revealing tunnels where animals were kept.  Elevators lifted props, beasts, or fighters up to the stage.  Then we went up to the second floor to see seats and columns.  We could see the ancient steps, artifacts, and coins that the Romans used in warfare in a ring.  Photographs of the first graffiti, (which told of gladiators fighting with leopards and tigers) and saw the ancient stadium.  After we went home, got popcorn and did a movie.  It was an exceptional day!"

Looking down into the tunnels and cages that would have
been under the floor of the arena.

Taking a break on one of the massive pillar remnants.
Tessa, "We went around climbing rocks and riding pillars.  I loved it and wondered what it was like watching one fight."
February 4 and 5, 2016


  1. After all of this road schooling, do you think you'll do homeschooling when you're back "home"? Where is that, anyway??

  2. yum, yum, yum...now I want pizza!!