Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Rome V: Underground Colosseum Tour

Every day in Rome was incredibly sunny, but on this day, we were in full sun pretty much the entire time. It was absolutely perfect. 85 degrees, not really humid... basically my perfect weather. 

We left the apartment at 9am so that we could just meander to the Colosseum, which was about a thirty minute walk. We picked up breakfast at a cafe near the apartment on the way.

Lots of big doors there had little openings that I thought were cute (I could probably do a series of images where Carson has noticed a small opening and pushed me toward it for a photo op.

The Kings had reserved our tour for 11:00, so we headed toward the long line at the Colosseum. Everyone says lines are long in Rome, and they are not wrong. This line (at least at 10 in the morning) wasn't SO bad, but we didn't have to wait in it because we had a reserved tour. So we went through a shorter line, passed through the metal detectors, and picked up our general admission tickets. I don't know about all the tours, but for ours you needed the reserved guided tour ticket PLUS admission ticket (the latter of which is 12 Euro and is a two-day ticket that also covers the Palatine Hill and Roman Fora).

Josh and Christina had heard glowing reviews of the Underground Tour of the Colosseum, which allows you to go below the main viewing area into what was underground, and also up to the fourth level of the Colosseum. Those two areas are only accessible by guided tours, and those tours are only done through the Colosseum website (I think, again they booked it). Anyway, the tours go on sale a specific amount of days before the day you want to book and they sell out quickly. So quickly that even though they hopped online at the right time, all the English tours sold out. Sooooo we did our tour in Spanish. Christina is fluent or near-fluent, so she translated. We felt and looked like we didn't belong in the tour!

We got into the Colosseum about thirty minutes before our tour group met, so we walked around looking at different things. Carson explained what he knew about the place.

When our tour began, we started by going through the gate where the gladiators would have entered the arena. There was a half-platform that you'll see in pictures from above, that covered just a portion of where the arena floor was originally. The floor where the gladiators were would likely have been wooden with some sand over it but that has decayed.

Next, we went underground! Below our feet was running water from an old plumbing system. Lots of people had thrown coins down there.

We climbed the steps up to the second and third levels next, which is where everyone else can go, so you can't tell (clever photo taking I guess), but we were basically weaving our way in and out of people and trying not to lose our group. It was crowded.

We entered another gated area (below our guide is at the entrance telling someone that she's sorry, but they weren't part of the tour so they can't go up) and went to the fourth level. There were originally about five levels, but the fifth is no longer standing.

Arch of Constantine

I'm not really sure why we had the headphones in for the tour, since I can count to ten in Spanish, ask where to find the bathroom, and that's it. Carson understands slightly more than I do, but thankfully he does have a decent working knowledge of the Colosseum so I sort of got my own history lesson apart from the tour.

A group photo (the Kings took most of our group photos on their phone and I haven't gotten copies yet, so it looks like we were never with them, but we were!)

After the Colosseum, we walked by the Roman Forum and ended up at the Mamertine Prison, which according to tradition is the supposed location where the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome. Carson and I were pooped (I love the sun and heat but I'm not used to it now that we live in Germany!) so we sat in the shade while Josh and Christina did the tour.

We walked around until we found a quietish pizza place for lunch. It looked cheap and quick and good... well, it was two of those things. We figured that when they said the slices were by weight that that would be okay. Reader, it was not. It turns out that a slice of pizza apparently weighs quite a lot. So don't go here or any place that weighs the pizza. It was delicious though. One of the best pizzas I've had.

A few in the group needed a pick-me-up, so they stopped into a cafe for a little shot of espresso.

Next, we went to the Vittorio Emanuele, which is this massive white building that has a number of different memorials and things on it.

There's an elevator (not free - can't remember what it costs!) on the back that takes you to the top so you can see a great view of the city of Rome. It was fun to find things we'd already seen and get a better lay of the land. Rome has so many domes! St. Peter's Basilica was still pretty obvious though!

Apparently these seagulls have built nests up there and get pretttty aggressive when it comes to their babies. They've been known to attack unassuming tourists (the tourists near us sort of deserved to get attacked because they were definitely provoking the mama seagull).

We split ways here. Josh and Christina went back to the apartment to take a nap, and we headed to the Mouth of Truth. If you've seen the movie Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn (I haven't in awhile but its so good and I'd recommend), you'll remember this. Apparently this statue on the wall can predict when you're lying. So if you put your hand in the mouth and tell a lie, it will supposedly bite down. The line to get in was long but moved quickly.

Carson ran up and shouted "I can dunk a basketball!" and I guess the Mouth knew it wasn't so.

I was in the clear.

To exit, you have to walk through the church, and to walk through the church you can't have shoulders or knees showing, so I grabbed their disposable covers and we passed through without incident.

We were going to meet friends at 5, and this was juuuuuust before 5, so I ducked behind the heavy hidden door exiting the church and threw on my dress (probably not recommended). Just about immediately after we'd exited, we saw our friends waiting for us (good timing!) and we headed to the Aventine Hill. I'll have all of that in another post!

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