Today was an awesome day! I did so much and saw so many things that its almost hard to remember everything. And I didn’t even leave my room until noon! So I hope you’re in for a long read, because it’s worth it!
Well, after having slept until 11am and talked with my friend Alex for a bit about his first day in Firenze (Florence) I had the plan to go see the Colosseum and Roman Forum today. I simply couldn’t wait any longer.
The first thing I did was meander about on my way to the Colosseum, stopping for the breakfast of a panino con prosciutto e formaggio (meat and cheese) as well as un caffé (coffee). The food was cheap and delicious and I was pretty happy until I remembered that I’m not supposed to drink coffee while whitenening my teeth… Lol *smacks forehead*
I continued making my way to the Colosseum, deciding that I prefer to meander about in the general direction of where I’m going, seeing all the neat little shops and cobblestone alleyways that Rome has to offer rather than taking a main road straight to my destination. Just as I started to feel a little bit lost, I came across a little park where there are people feeding birds, children running and playing, Italians merely sitting and enjoying the sun, as well as a nice outdoor café. However, none of that mattered too much to me because directly in front of me was my first glimpse of il Colosseo!!! (The Colosseum)
It was beautiful; I simply had to get closer! I power walked my way until I was right beneath it. Let me tell you something, it is undeniably grand and majestic. Despite all those years weighing down upon it as well as destruction from wars, this building is utterly glorious. I almost wanted to start killing people on the street in front of it to win the honor of the Colosseum! Yes, it’s that glorious. See for yourself.
Sadly, I was not the only person who felt that the Colosseum is epic, which I noticed when I looked at the 500 person line to get in. At this time it was around 1pm and so I figured the lines would die down later in the day. Unfortunately I never returned, enjoying myself too much to go back once I began exploring the rest of the city.
Immediately next to the Colosseum is the Roman Forum, which, quite frankly, I got plenty of merely from walking by it. It’s not really that special in my opinion, but maybe I was just biased after taking in the glory of the Colosseum. I did, however, really like this statue of Caesar right outside of the Roman Forum.
Continuing along my way lead me to two firsts: 1) my gelato experience in Rome. It was merely gelato from a little stand and WOW they’re not joking, it really is freaking delicious. I can’t wait to eat at a real gelateria. 2) Possibly the most beautiful building I have ever seen, and I couldn’t even figure out its name for like half an hour.
After speaking to the only guard that wasn’t holding a machine gun (see below), as well as one of the employees at the shop, I learned that it is il Vittoriano, only a century old and built as a National Monument as a tribute to World War I and I believe they said the King of Italy as well, but they were a little bit difficult to understand. I spent a good long while inside of this building, looking at the statues and paintings and historical artifacts, but the outdoor areas were certainly more amazing.
I went to the top of the building where they have a cafeteria (no, not as shitty as the one at your Elementary/Middle/High Schools) and bought myself another panino (they sure are cost-effective), but this time with artichoke, prosciutto, and lettuce, as well as some pineapple juice. It was really nice to enjoy the view of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, as well as the rest of the city around it while munching on my sammich.
And here’s a close-up of the front of il Vittoriano, protected by guards with machine guns. Definitely necessary….
It still being fairly early in the afternoon, I decided to take my journey north towards the Trevi Fountain. Along my way I encountered a restaurant that caught my eye. I didn’t ask or anything but I’m like 99.9% sure that this means that the owner is from San Diego… right? :P Here’s a shout-out to everyone from SD!
After the restaurant I find my way into a little back alley, where a street artist was using spray paint to create absolutely amazing artwork of space and planets and other random things. She even sold them on the spot for only 10 Euro. In case you don’t remember, I only had 20 Euro in cash for the past two days and despite attempting to save the money, I had about 8 left at this point. I really wanted to watch her make a painting and then buy it, but alas I could not afford to L
Once I finally found my way in the direction of the Trevi Fountain, there were hundreds of tiny shops selling really cool wares of many types, having something that almost any customer could appreciate. In particular, they sold “original murano glass” in all shapes and for all purposes. I really enjoyed walking in and around all the shops as they were located in a tiny little alleyway with hundreds of people meandering in and out of them. Soon I could the pounding of water on stone and realized with excitement that I had found the fountain! As I began walking in that direction, a bird caught my eye and I followed it to a lamp post. This lamp post was no ordinary lamp post, but in fact my first sight of la Fontana di Trevi!
Now, this is not merely a fountain. If you’ve seen any movie that has Rome in it, you’ve probably at least caught a glimpse of it. There is very good cause for this: it is fucking beautiful and epic! Thousands of people (not exaggerating) flock to the front of the fountain just to sit and relax by the water as all the glory of Neptune (I think…?) flows down in front of them into a pool of several hundred square feet. Needless to say, I took my time in leaving this place because it is so spectacular. I will certainly return with friends from John Cabot later.
Continuing along in my journey, I was pretty tired by this point, so I strolled along the streets in the general direction of my hotel (probably 2-3 miles away from me at this point), and I came across a little park area where two teams of kids were playing some pretty intense soccer. I sat and relaxed, enjoying the competition and skill of mere 12-15 year olds. I was also really thirsty, for the first time doing as the Romans do and gulping down water from one of many tiny fountains that the city runs water to nonstop. It took me a couple attempts to realize that there’s a hole you’re supposed to cover up with your finger so it acts more like a normal water fountain rather than getting in an Asian squat and slurping it up from below… You can see the fountain in this photo.
Just as I was about to leave, I saw a basketball court with two guys playing. If you know me at all, you know I can’t turn down an opportunity to ball, so I walked over and joined their game. We just shot around for a bit and then played some 1v1. In no time at all they loved me, telling me my Italian was spectacular for it being only my second day, thought I was amazing at basketball, and told me to come back to the court to play with them tomorrow. I informed them that I wouldn’t be able to because tomorrow I’m moving into my apartment on the West side of the city in Trastevere, but that I’d try to comeback some other time. There I developed the beginnings of my first friendship with Italian locals. Here they are, one posting up the other one.
By the way, this basketball court has a legit view of the Colosseum. Check it out!
Soon, two other locals showed up and we got a game of 2v2 going. I’m not exactly sure who won, but it didn’t matter. It was so much fun playing with Italians… they seemed to care much more about having fun through competition than merely only finding winning important. Here’s a reverse layup that I made in, photo credit to my new friend Roger.
And here’s me standing around pretending to play defense and lookin goofy as hell…
While playing 2v2 I sort of dived for a ball, thoroughly bruising my tailbone and ending my basketball experience for the day, but it was okay because I was completely exhausted at this point. The tiredness certainly contributed to my mistake, so I figured it was a good time to stop. I said my goodbyes and made my journey back home, using my usual tactic of “walk in the general direction down whatever street I think looks coolest until I’m home,” but it totally fucked me over this time. Again, I blame this on being tired, not on using a flawed method :P
As I meandered about, my great sense of direction failed me, causing me to go wayyyyyyyyyy too far south than I should have, going probably a half mile off the tourist map of Rome that I had procured. It took me until I was in a massive piazza that was not on the map until I stopped and asked for directions. It turned out I had what was probably 2-2 ½ miles more to walk to get back to my hotel, already having a hurt tailbone making it painful to walk and having walked around for the past 7ish hours. Daunting as it was, particularly as this area of Rome starts to get fairly sketchy come nightfall, I made it back safely and happily. What a day!