From the laid-back rural charm of Cinque Terre, we landed in the sweaty metropolis of Rome. Rome is packed with interesting things to see, both new and old, but it’s also exhausting. We were still getting into the swing of Italy, and it seemed as though our time in Rome was filled with near misses and bad timing.

Around the Coliseum

One of these near misses involved our attempt to join a walking tour of the Coliseum. We had just gotten started when the Guardia di Finanza came over and started hassling our tour guide. So much for that idea, though we were able to catch up with another tour of the Forum area on the following day.

A friendly tip for those of you visiting the Coliseum: don’t get gelato from the carts by the Metro station. Trust me. If the color looks as though it could not be found in nature, stay away!

Near the Forum

We did succeed in taking a walking tour of the Forum area on the following day, and it was quite informative. It’s been a long time since high school Latin or Roman history, so it was good to get an overview of the architecture we were seeing.

The sheer quantity of artifacts in this area is just stunning. Columns, arches, temples and fragments are all around you. In many places, structures were simply built on top of older buildings that had been buried by the numerous earthquakes and floods that have afflicted Rome.

New Excavation

Across the street from the main Forum, a new excavation project is unearthing the remains of the forum of a lesser emperor. We couldn’t get down into the site, but we got a good view by walking along the sidewalk you can see at the top right of the second photo. At the end of that sidewalk is Trajan’s Column. It’s not as large as I expected.

As we got near the column, we were accosted by pickpockets. All of our guidebooks had warned of this, and the hallmark to look out for was the use of a piece of cardboard. It’s meant to disguise what the thieves are doing, but in this case it served much like a sign reading, as Dan says, “Hello. I’ll be your pickpocket today.” We managed to avoid them and keep a firm hold on our belongings and cash.

Building Details

The ruins are interesting, but we saw a good deal of more recent architecture that also appealed to me. Most of these buildings are near the Forum area, except the storefront with shutters, which was near out hotel.

Street Scenes

These are typical Roman scenes we walked past on our excursions around the city.

Statue of Constantine

These fragments of the statue of Constantine reside in the Capitoline Museum near the Forum. I’ve seen pictures of these for years, so one of my missions was to see the statue in person. It’s really big.

We also went to the Vatican to see the Vatican Museum. Getting into the museum involved going through security much like that in an airport. Dan had to check his walking stick/tripod; I suppose it could have been used as a weapon.

The museum itself was a little hard to deal with—like a vast storehouse of papal loot, with very little in the way of navigation aids or identification of the artwork. However, it was worth it all to see the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Despite the crowds, the guards maintain near-silence, so I could stand and admire the painting almost in peace. It brought tears to my eyes.