Antique Rome revisited

Saturday, March 30, 2019

What a day!!!

After breakfast, we bought a 48-hours Roma Pass and set off to revisit the Roman antique trio, i.e. the Coliseum, the Forum, and Palatine Hill. You would think it was a good plan, right? So did we… until we exited the Colosseo subway station and hit massive crowds of tourists. So, bear with me as I unfold this packed day…

1. As of March 1, 2019 (hence taking everybody by surprise), you need a RESERVATION to get inside the Coliseum, even with a Roma Pass!!!

2. To get a “same day” reservation, you are sent to another area nearby, to find there another HUGE lineup.

3. But the quick-thinking Fragapanes don’t get discouraged and switched to plan B: head for the Forum, where the lineup is very short and the Roma Pass gives you immediate free access (the card gives you access to two paid tourist sites).

Let me stop here for a moment.

2019March-Rome-D2-0001As you enter the forum, emperor Titus’ beautiful arch welcomes you, and I had a moment of emotional joy remembering how much I had loved the place when we came in 2012.

At this time of the year, your eyes are immediately drawn to the wisteria blossoms hanging from overhead vines and showing off their gorgeous lavender colour. Cherry trees are also showcasing their splendour, adding pizzazz to the site.

Soon, however, disappointment settled in when we started meandering in the old cobbled streets. The grass we could freely walk on was now protected by guard railings. the stones we could freely sit on to rest or ponder were now off limits, and beautiful colonnades were now surrounded by linked fences. Without its manicured rose garden, the House of the Vestal Virgins looked disarrayed, and I could not bring myself to step in. The Forum we had so much enjoyed in 2012 no longer existed.

We moved on to the Palatine Hill, and the disappointment followed for the same reasons. The Palatine Museum was closed and some other areas were uninviting. But then…

When we visited the Hill in 2012, we lingered to take advance of the “golden hour” and were chased by the guard as the site was closing, putting an end to our exploration. Not this time! We slowly moved through the massive Imperial Building complex, unveiling the Houses of Emperor Augustus and his wife Livia, the water garden of the Domus Augustana, and what remained of the marble flooring that once paved long arched hallways. If only these stones could talk…


All in all, we arrived at 10:30 am and left at 5:30 pm, with only espresso and peanuts for lunch. We are due for a nice dinner after the complimentary cocktail the hotel offers their guests every Saturday evening.

Dinner at nearby Ristorante Romantico, a busy place in this neighbourhood! We had antipasto for two and pizza, with a glass of local wine. Yep, that will do!

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