When in Rome… (do as the tourists do)

We arrived in Ancona 2hrs later than expected. For some reason crossing time zones on a ferry makes it very complicated to get an accurate schedule. We caught the bus to the Train station and got some Tofu stir-fry from a Chinese restaurant (the first non-Greek food we’ve eaten in awhile) before heading on the train towards our next destination.
We arrived in Rome just in time for 6:00 rush hour on the metro, so we just headed straight for our campsite. We decided the best (and cheapest) way to stay in Rome was at Tiber Camping. It is on the outskirts of the city, the last metro stop, 20 minutes from the center. The campsite was cute. It had a pool, a mini market, and a bar and restaurant. We stayed in a “Bungalow” which was really a small mobile trailer with 2 beds and no A/C but it was private and had a lock on the door.

We set our things down and headed straight for the market for a cold beer and ordered a pizza from the restaurant. The European cup was on so we sat down for a while and watched. In the restaurant we met a guy who is from Flagler Beach, which is very close to St. Augustine. We didn’t know any of the same people, but it was strange to meet some one that lives so close to my hometown, in a foreign country.

The next morning we tried to get a head start and wake up early, so we could make the most of Rome. We tried to beat the tourists to the Coliseum, but when we got there the line to get in was already two hours long. We decided not to go inside. Many people told us it looks just the same inside as it does out. Plus, there are no signs to explain what anything is, so you have to pay the extra 20€ to get a guided tour.

After doing a little research, we did get to learn a little bit about this amazing building:
Originally capable of seating around 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. It remained in use for nearly 500 years with the last recorded games being held there as late as the 6th century. As well as the traditional gladiatorial games, many other public spectacles were held there, such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building eventually ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such varied purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry and a Christian shrine.
Although it is now in a ruined condition due to damage caused by earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum has long been seen as an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome.

After taking a few photos we opted to explore other parts of the city.


Ruins…


Government Building


gladiators making photos for money

Over the next few hours we hit all of the famous sites, starting with the Pantheon, meaning “Temple of all the gods” which is a building which was originally built as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome.


Since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Christian church. The Pantheon is currently the oldest standing domed structure in Rome (125 AD) It is really cool because it has an opening at the top that is never shut, so even if it rains to this day it will rain into the building. The circular opening at the top was used as a sundial and was one of the first calendars.


spanish steps (not sure what is so impressive about them)


Ttrevi fountain


It is good luck to throw in a coin…

Piazza Navona where the they would stage mini naval battles and flood the entire Piazza to recreate them. There is also a statue in the center that has the four then-known continents as four different men, europe asia africa and the new world.

unfortunately it was under renovations

After an exhausting day of sightseeing, we strolled through Via Borghesa, the large park in the city center, before heading back to the campgrounds.

There, we relaxed by the pool with a beer and then headed to dinner. The food at the Camp restaurant was surprisingly delicious. We got bruscetta, homemade tortellini with chicory cream sauce and a pitcher of Sangria. At the bar we watched a little more Eurocup. It was nice because the metro stopped running at 11pm so everyone who was at the campgrounds all hung out at the one bar all night.

June 14: Vatican City

This morning we slept in and got some cold pizza from the market for breakfast. It was only €0.50 and way better than dry cereal bars. Since we ended up seeing almost all of the ancient sights the day before, we figured that we could just take it slow today and visit just the Vatican. It’s a good thing we did because the Vatican museum was massive! It was so ornate with so many murals, tapestries and sculptures. We overheard a guide saying that if you spent only 5 seconds looking at each thing in the museum, it would take over 12 years for you to see everything!
Inside the museum:









At the end of the museum you reach the Sistine Chapel. It is indescribable to see something that famous and inspiring in real life.


But there were a few annoyances:
1. no one is allowed to take photos
2. you had to remain completely silent while inside the chapel
3. men in suits (who worked there I hope) kept yelling “no photos! keep moving! no talking! silence!” kind of ruined the awe (and the silence) slightly…

Next we planned on going into St. Peter’s Basilica, which has the largest dome of all the churches in Europe and is supposed to have an amazing view if the city. We waited in line for about half an hour, just for the security guards to tell us that we were not modestly dressed enough to be allowed inside! We had heard of this rule, no bare sholders and no bellies showing, however I was wearing a rather modest jean skirt and kelly had jean shorts on. We tried to argue with security, but they pointed to a sign which showed a stick figure with a dress that was supposed to be below the knees. So we left, slightly defeated, and headed home to get some laundry done. (but not before taking some pictures of the outside…


The next day was our last day in Rome, we had to pack up and head out. But first we stopped for lunch. It was an amazing find: An African restaurant in the middle of the city center. We got cold draft beer and food just like the Ethiopian food we had in London. Plus it was huge! One dish was more than enough for both of us. It was a nice break in the midst of pasta and pizza coma we were putting ourselves in. Now we were ready to move on to Florence!

PS- my (Ellie’s) foot is OK. It was looking pretty swollen but has healed nicely so far.
This is what it looked like in Italy…

❤ Ellie

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