The morning of our first day in Rome we left our hotel, The Westin Excelsior, early in the morning to do the "Caesar Shuffle" as Rick Steves calls it.
The "Caesar Shuffle" is a tour of Ancient Rome -- the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum.
Quick note: I picked up a copy of Rick Steves' Rome 2008 for free on Paper Back Swap. BEST guide book ever! It helped us so much and I was able to read his "tours" at all the major sites. I joked to the Mr. that he didn't need an audio guide because I was his audio guide!
We took the metro straight to the Colosseum. Even on first glance, it was very impressive.
We bought a Roma Pass, skipped the lines, and then we entered the massive Colosseum. Breathtaking!
We were so impressed by the sheer size, the age, and how technologically advanced the Colosseum is.
It was cool to see the old artifacts like fan graffiti, gambling dice, and ancient drink tickets, and decorative columns.
It was easy to image how the Colosseum would have looked it's hay day -- the Emperor, the Gladiators, the animals, the Vestal Virgins, and the hoards of people.
I just kept thinking, how could the Romans build something so big and lasting without the technology we have today?
After the Colosseum we walked to the Arch of Constantine. Constantine was the Emperor who legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire and completely changed the course of modern history. Amazing.
Next we used our Roma Pass to get into Palatine Hill, the Beverly Hills of Ancient Rome.
On Palatine Hill we saw the Roman Emperor's Palace, Augustus's house, the huts of Romulus and Remus...
And the the Emperor's stadium.
Apparently Palatine Hill used to be stunning. It was complete with frescoes, fountains, statues, pillars, and more. Now it's mainly rubble, but still so cool to see (especially for a history geek like me).
From Palatine Hill we also looked out on the old chariot race course, Circus Maxims (think Ben-Hur).
And we looked back out at the Colosseum. You can see why the views from Palatine Hill made it the posh zip code in 100 A.D.
Then we headed down to the Roman Forum. The old city center -- now mainly ruins.
I read Rick Steves Forum tour to The Mr. as we toured the old temples, government buildings, and much more.
I just loved seeing the Roman ruins. We saw...
The Temple of Antonius Pius and Faustina...
The Arch of Septimius Severus...
The Temple of Saturn...
And so much more!
Even though the Roman Forum is mainly rubble now, but it was cool to imagine how it used to look. One thing that's still 100% in tact are the roads. It's crazy to think that Caesar walked on those very roads.
What blew my mind is that Rome had 1.2 million people before the fall of Rome. When Rome fell and the barbarians smashed the aqueducts in 400-something A.D. the population was reduced to the tens of thousands and the Roman Forum was covered in dirt for centuries. Just incredible to the turns history takes.
We spent about 6 hours total touring the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Forum. We were hot and exhausted, so we went back to the hotel to rest a bit.
This was our first day in Rome, and we quickly realized that Rome was hot, hot, hot. Like seriously, hot. Like I can't believe that a week ago I was freezing my tail off in Munich, hot. And did not have near enough warm weather clothes (e.g. you may have noticed me wearing the same black and white dress in Florence and in Rome). So we decided to walk from our hotel to H&M to buy a couple of dresses for me.
On the way to H&M we got trapped in a crazy thunderstorm near the Spanish steps and we got drenched!
(Look at the ominous sky!)
I mean we got really drenched. Was actually kind of fun and romantic being out in the hot rain. Until suddenly it started to hail. Here's how I looked while we hid under a hotel parking area waiting out the hail.
Eventually it let up and we finally made it to H&M where I bought two cheap, cute dresses that you'll see in the next post, which incidentally another Rome post!
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