MY EUROPEAN TRIP 9 Rome, Italy

Hi, there !

* sigh of relief * Finally, Rome , The Eternal City. So, how do I start this ?  With statistics, and history ? With over 3000 years of  Roman history, it would take at least one volume of Encyclopedia Britanica  to present in detail  Rome’s influence on the history of the world.  At this moment, I feel stupid to even dare contemplate doing that when I know next to nothing  about ancient  Rome , except of course a few interesting trivia such as Emperor Nero fiddling while Rome burned (  some say he actually sang as he had a good singing voice , and even went to Greece to join singing contests , lol ). And who doesn’t know about Mark Anthony  and Julius Caesar ?   Yes, you got it. Both men were Cleopatra’s lovers.  And who was Cleopatra? Cleopatra was Egypt’s last Pharaoh. Cleopatra , by the way, wasn’;t even Egyptian. She was Greek who only spoke Greek, not the language of the country she ruled.  And,  she must have been so beautiful she snagged two of Rome’s most important citizens. Or,  maybe she wasn’t even pretty….. but she was a Pharaoh, and I guess, that alone would attract the best of Rome.  Okay, enough of gossip.

Below is where we went after The Vatican tour.  At the end of the road is the Coliseum.  The sight of that from the coach made my heart beat fast. I mean, heck,  that’s the Roman Coliseum,  the real McCoy…

.The Coliseum was built in 72 AD by Emperor Vespasian, and  finished by his son, Emperor Titus. It has 80 arched entrances to accomodate  about 50 ,000 spectators.  They were spectators of mayhem and carnage , slaughter of wild animals, and fight to the death between criminals, prisoners of  war, and  slaves  they called gladiators.

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.Above is the interior. Just look at those massive columns.

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.You’d expect the middle space to be an open space arena,  unlike the above photo where  you can see walls and tunnels. Actually, there was  originally a wooden floor that covered these tunnels, and the wooden floor was covered with sand, sand is “arena ” in Latin. The animals and gladiators ( later, the early Christians ) were held under the floor, in the tunnels to await their fate. Pulleys  were raised to bring the animals or humans to the surface.  The spectacle was usually a one-day event, and there were so much killing the ground would be soaked with blood,  so they had to cover the area with fresh sand, after which , the slaughter continued on.

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..Panoramic view of the arena.  Uhm, the design actually confuses me. How did spectators at the top ( what we call the nosebleed section, the bleachers ) manage to get a good view of the spectacle  down at the arena? Those massive walls originally were covered with awnings.

.The Coleseum at night, courtesy of Wikipedia.

.Above is courtesy of Wikipedia.  The arch on the right is the Arch of Constantine.

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Next photos are those of The Forum.

The ruins of the Roman Coliseum and The Forum are in stark contrast to the grandeur of The Vatican. That they are almost next to each other makes the contrast even more stunning. To a person who absolutely knows nothing about  Rome and its history ( yes, there’s a person like that ), The Forum would look like just a pile of bricks and slabs of stones with a few posts and columns scattered  here and there.

It’s hard to imagine  that these ruins were once the center of trade and politics in Rome for about 1000 years. Where the market goes, so go the politicians. I can imagine politicians standing on platforms , orating and speaking to anyone who cared to listen, while common folks went around doing their business. . ” Can you defend your  politics  at The Forum?”  This was  also the place where the Senate met, and triumphant marches and elections were held.  It was at the Rostra where Marc Anthony  addressed his famous eulogy  for Julius Caesar ( who was assassinated by  some Senators led by Brutus ).  “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar ”                     That is of course William Shakespeare’s version.  I actually stood in front of the platform and imagined the whole scene. ( Aaaargh, I’m such a geek ! )

Below is the Rostra.

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.Above is the Temple of Romulus. The door is original, and it’s bronze.  Hmmm, no wonder Kratos can’t destroy that. ( Kratos from video game God of War, he he )

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I’m trying to visualize how the place must have looked during their time.  It does look small and compact, but you know, it isn’t , really.  The columns still standing  are  tall , massive, and impressive.

I have tons of photos of this place that  I’d love to post here, but I’m sure not all  share my enthusiasm for old stuff.  I think I want to be an archaelogist. But I doubt  this career will put food on my table.  I’ll content myself watching National Geographic Channel and The Naked Archeologist and dreaming of going to Greece, Egypt , Turkey, and  Israel. Oh, and back to Italy again. I want to see Pompeii.

So, anyway, I’m done with Colloseum and The Forum, but not Rome yet.  Our tour of The Vatican and the Colloseum and Forum was done in one , HOT sunny day. It was almost 100F, and no lunch time. We were told to eat a very heavy breakfast, warned there wouldn’t be time for lunch, then headed out at  730 H. The photos below are my morning breakfast, times 2, and how my li’l cousin and I looked after a tiring day.

.We finished off the day by getting an Optional Dinner that cost  $65 each person. Add the $ 65 for The Vatican Museum  Tour, it was not only hectic, it was quite an expensive day too. Optional means the fees were not included in the pre-paid packaged tour.  To be honest, the Museum tour was totally worth it, but the dinner wasn’t. The only good thing about dinners in Europe were the ” drink all you can ” part.  One bottle of wine in Europe is cheaper than one glass of wine here in the US.  3 bottles per table of 6 persons, always.

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.The pasta was okay, but the meat was chewy. The steak we had in Venice was quite chewy too.  What’s with the hard meat, anyway? The lasagne was too watery. Perhaps that’s how Italians make lasagna, but I like it better the way we make it at home. It has form and we can actually cut through it.

Below is a blurry picture of the lasagna.

.Bottomline is , the food could have been better for $65 . Oh, and the serenaders got at least  $40 from our table.  ^__^

Well, this is all for now.  Rome again next post.  Good day and PEACE !

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64 responses to this post.

  1. $65??? for dinner? i could feed myself with that amount in 1 week (including breakfast, lunch and dinner 😀 ) but looks like an amazing day for a tour to the coliseum. thank you for sharing 😉

    Reply

    • That would be around 3,000 pesos. When we were there in 2010, we had dinner at Jolibee, beef with mushroom gravy and rice for 37 pesos. That was cheap, and really delicious. Food in Europe is expensive. So, if you have plans of visiting, get ready with plenty of cash or your credit card.

      Reply

  2. 3,000 pesos. Geee, so many! Got to visit these. Sooner the better. Great post!

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  3. Oh that pic of , sleeping on the last seat . . . . tired of everything 🙂

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  4. It looks like you had a great day, Ren. But honestly, $65 was too much for a meal. 🙂 I loved these architectures. Thank you for sharing these pictures. I hope you must have experienced something wonderful by seeing this proofs of history in front of your eyes. Great post, Ren. 🙂

    Reply

    • Thanks, Arindam !

      I know right? Over here in the US, I can have unlimited veggie salad, unlimited breadstick, and generous amount of main dish for less than $10 at Olive Garden.

      Reply

  5. I got giddy the first time I went to the Coliseum and the Forum in Rome. It is truly breathtaking when you see for yourself all that history still standing after how many centuries. I also couldn’t help but imagine what it would have been like to live during that time period.

    As for the optional dinners, I would say most are hits and misses when it comes to an organized tour. I don’t think those restaurants that lots of tour groups go through are the “authentic” Italian experience. I equate those restaurants in any country as tourist traps. If you want something authentic, you definitely need to eat where the locals eat. That’s my take on eating the food on tours that include dinner or have optional dinners.

    Reply

    • Oh, yeah, simpleleek. You know exactly how it felt. Some people go for the sake of going, but that’s okay… not all have that connection to history.

      I know….. people say we have to see where the locals like to go.

      Reply

  6. I read the whole of post line by line. Reason being that I am planning a Europe trip myself in 2014 summers. But I do not have much idea as to how should go about the whole thing. Your blog is kind of like a troubleshooter 🙂 So, when the time comes and I get stuck somehwere, I am going to ping you for pointers 🙂

    Food looks good and I read about the cheap wine 😛 Good news for me 🙂
    I totally adore the way you write things in detail with History and pictures on the sides ! Keep up the enthusiasm. I am reading the whole of your European trip and will bookmark it 🙂
    Thank you for making the effort for us, fellow bloggers 🙂

    Reply

    • If you’re going solo, it’s gonna be a different ballgame. ….. that depends how many countries you want to visit. I suggest though that you go solo in Italy. And the most important thing is you need to read up about the places you’ll go to, otherwise, it’s likely you will pass something important. I’ll post some travel hints right after this tour series. Watch out for that.

      Cheers, tatsat !

      Reply

  7. A very beautiful and historic place. Wish i could be there 😉

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  8. Great pictures (although I wasn’t convinced by the lasagna). This is a neat kind of weird, but a couple of your photos match up with some I took years ago in terms of where you must have been standing (inside the Colosseum, particularly). I was gonna say it hasn’t changed much in 20 years, but I guess that’s a given, huh?

    Reply

    • I know ! Ha ha… I just needed to show that red blob on the plate that was supposedly lasagne.

      Well, there were some scaffoldings here and there, but I’m sure not a stone was moved since then.

      Reply

  9. I absolutely love Rome n Italy!!!

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  10. You played God of War? wow.
    Great pictures in your post. I feel like playing Assassin Creed video game. 🙂

    Reply

    • You play, too ? I highly recommend God of war. There are already 3 in the series. Gawd, I just love this game !

      AssassinsCreed is also great. We have the complete games, I think there are 3 too.

      Reply

      • I had PS3. What console do you have? GoW and Assasins Creed were my top games too. Yes both of them are in 3 series. The story line in this game are amazing. You have complete series? wow. I really surprised to know that you are a lady gamers. How come you cook, and you are a gamers?

        Reply

        • The first 2 GoW are in PS2 but the 3rd one is in PS3. The games are my brother’s. I think he has 168 games last I counted. I have not played for quite a while now. I started playing Resident Evil 5 before i went to Europe…. maybe I’ll pick it up again this coming holidays. I have a semestral break coming soon. ha ha We have all the consoles available in the market. if you have PS2, I recommend Persona games. Persona 3FES was game of the year in 2006 0r 7, if I’m not mistaken. Ooops, sorry, getting enthusiastic again.

          Reply

          • That much? wow.
            You played Resident Evil 5, too? That is my favorite game. Chris, Jill, Sheva, Weshker, they have a nice story. I love Zombies. They have RE6 now. I also enjoyed RE movies.
            I was having PS2 but once I have PS3, it belongs to my nephew.
            Persona… Yes, I play it also in PSP. They have a lot of sequels. The story line is great. How come our favorite games is quite the same? I hope you won’t spend all your semester break only to pick up you console back to Manila 🙂

            Reply

  11. Your blog is certainly stunning these days…

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  12. Beautiful photos as usual and Thank you for sharing 🙂

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  13. Wow! Just wow!! I have missed reading your blog Ren. And I am soooo back again. 🙂

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  14. There’s something about ruins that is so mysterious and elegant. 🙂

    I instantly became hungry looking at food pics .hehe

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  15. hello, Ren… salamat sa pagdaan lagi, kapatid. and thank you for this series, very educational at masaya lagi ang mga kwento mo… gusto ko ring makita ang ruins at lumang structures sa Europe – are they really massive and breathtaking?

    hala, mukhang nag-enjoy kayo. iyon lang, parang masabaw nga at creamy masyado ang foods, ahaha. btw, sabi, talaga raw mahal sa major European cities lalo pa pag laging iisipin ang rate of exchange, hihi. tago mo muna ang calculator, hakhak…^^

    regards sa iyo at sa family… 🙂

    Reply

    • Ate, look at the pics… do you notice the size of the people walking past the columns ? It is that massive. It is breathtaking because it thousands of years old, and they’re beautiful and perfect.

      I’m going to post some hints and suggestions after I’m done with the countries, and how much it will cost a tourist. I hope I’ll be helpful.

      Reply

  16. I loved the photos from your tour. They are amazing. It was amusing to see the picture of you tired out on the coach at the end of the tour. I bet it was tiring in the heat, but well well worth it. A once in a life opportunity. Pity the dinner was so expensive but what a great day. Thankyou so much for sharing it. I loved it

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    • Mr. Countingducks, it was really quite a long day, we headed out at 7:30 AM and headed ” home” at 6 PM. We weren’t even given some time to sit down and rest. Aaargh. I didn’t know why Mom took that pic, but it’s useful now as part of my narrative. lol

      Cheers !

      Reply

  17. Posted by Chris green on November 8, 2012 at 3:19 am

    Just wanted to point out a forgive able mistake, since you said you knew little about Ancient Rome, with Egypt closely intertwined with the the progression from republic to empire. Cleopatra did speak the language of common Egyptians, among others. She was the first and only ( being the last) of the Ptolemies to bother learning it.

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    • Thank you for pointing that out to me. I reread that part, and yes, I did write she never spoke Egyptian, but I should have added that though she did speak speak Egyptian, what I understood was that she didn’t speak the language while she ruled Egypt…. so much so that government ” documents” had to be written in 2 languages, Greek and Egyptian. The discovery of such a document in 2 languages , the Rosetta Stone, led to the understanding of the hyroglyphics, because there is now a translation of an unknown written language to a known one. Please correct me again if I’m wrong. I appreciate it., after which I’ll edit my post.

      Reply

  18. Same same same again hahaha.. We should have done the same tour so it would have been fun :). Nice photos.

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    • Ahahaha ! Same serenaders ! ! I saw your photos ! So was it an Optional tour too? $65 was too much, huh ? I can get that food here in the US for $15, I swear.

      Reply

  19. hello, Ren… ahaha, that expensive dinner of yours could have bought you at least a dozen meals at Jollibee, dang. but people say, one musn’t get worked up on the costs during travels. if anything, they should be worry-free and about leisure, daw, haha. although, i must say that i am far being able to afford that attitude myself. after returning from trips, i usually find myself comparing the cost of one snack in a trip against one week of “pamalengke,” haha. oh, well… thanks for your kind words, ha. 😉

    Reply

    • IKR?
      I think more than a dozen. We only ate that one time and it was only 90 cents and it was delicious, rice and beef woth mushroom gravy.

      Actually , I wasn’t that worried… Mom paid for everything, even for my 14 year old cousin. But since she used her credit card, she didn’t feel the pain until she got the bill. Ahahaha.

      Reply

  20. Never had the pleasure of visiting yet, but hopefully one day. But I do remember how when I was standing on the Great Wall of China, I felt like I was in such a historic place, and I was imagining how so many years ago there were soldiers standing where I was and could envision a battle taking place. I think I’d be feeling the same way if I went to the Coliseum 🙂

    Reply

    • I know exactly what you mean, though I did feel a bit nerdy and geeky standing in front of the platform where Marc Anthony addressed the crowd and imagining him standing there too. Sheeesh, my imagination. Ahahahaha !

      Reply

  21. Having fun can certainly be tiring 🙂

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  22. Posted by ~REBECCA DAWN~ on November 10, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    the photos were certainly beautiful! but i have to say the pictures of the food, didnt look too good…especially the steak…
    I would have melted in that heat! heat and I dont get along! I am melting i am melting!!!
    But I am sure envious of you, you got to take a lovely trip of europe!!! 🙂

    Reply

  23. I had the opportunity to visit Rome this past summer. I love your pictures, the ruins were my favorite part of my trip. It’s funny you mentioned the food though, I had some gnocchi in Rome and it wasn’t that great but it was expensive!

    Reply

    • I just saw your blog ! Foodie! I love it.

      Oh, yeah, the food in Europe was expensive. I don’t know, but the pizzas and pastas here in the US are better. I mean, I make better pastas. What do you think?

      Reply

      • It depends where you go. There were places where it was pretty much a tourist trap and the food was subpar. But I also tried to go to more homestyle family-owned restaurants and the food was spot on! For example, when I was in France I read about this well-known restaurant and while trying to look for it, I made a wrong turn and veered off course. Long story short I stumbled upon this small Mexican restaurant instead and dinner was incredible! Best Mexican food I’ve ever had, and in France! I think sometimes you gotta get a little lost to discover the real treasures 🙂

        Reply

  24. Posted by jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com/jmsabbagh86@gmail.com on December 30, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Rome,the wonderful city of renaissance ,fantastic post.have a wonderful new yea.jalal

    Reply

    • Sorry, this is such a late response ! ! I’m trying to read up on my subscriprion backlog. I’m now reading mails sent on Dec. 30.

      Anyway, thanks for visiting, and indeed, Rome is a fantastic place. I’m sure I’ll go back there sometime in the near future.

      Cheers !

      Reply

  25. Lovely pictures!

    Reply

  26. very interesting post 🙂

    Reply

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