Rome day 8 – part 2 (Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, Palatine Hill, Trajan’s Column & Pantheon)

Posted on: October 12, 2013

*** read our morning adventure at Vatican City day 8

Although we was a bit tired from walking non-stop inside the VaticanMuseum – well… I was tired and kinda hid my painful ankles – we decided to see the Colosseum as well. We took metro line A from Oktaviano to Termini station and changed to metro line B to Colloseo. We arrived there at about 4pm. Once we step out from the metro station, we immediately saw the mighty Colosseum across the street. For me, it was one of the moments that I really felt that my dream finally came through! The Colosseum was so REAL! As cliche as it sound, it was a feeling that made me humble. As a child, I used to learn 7 wonders of the world through history book and internet and I am always amazed by ancient artifacts, especially Colosseum. I couldn’t really understand how the ancient Romans were able to build a such huge structure with limited sources, but seeing it with my own eyes made me more appreciate one of the greatest Roman architectures. The line up to buy entrance ticket was not too bad, about 10-15 minutes. The entrance ticket is €12 that includes the entrance to Colosseum and Palatine Hill (Roman Forum).


The mighty Colosseum

Passing the entrance gate of Colosseum, we took a steep staircase to reach the 2nd floor. There was an exhibition displaying the history of Colosseum and how the Romans built it. Going out to the balcony area outside, we could see the lower level of the Colosseum where the gladiators fought. This area was closed to general tourists, unless you book a guided tour which take you downstairs on the fighting area. We circled the Colosseum upper balcony and took some pictures to commemorate this iconic site. We then went down to the 1st floor and exit out toward the Arch of Constantine. We spent a good 1.5 hours to explore the mighty Colosseum since the Roman Forum closes at 7pm!

Colosseum wall

The steps staircase were steep!

Colosseum Constantino

Constantino Exhibition

Colosseum exhibit

The Artifact of Colosseum Exhibition

Colosseum ruin

L: The cross on pedestal ; Mid: inside the Colosseum; R: the lower level of Colosseum

Although we saw there’s a pathway of Roman Forum’s back side across the Arch of Constantine, we decided to walk west along Via di S. Gregorio toward the entrance of the Roman Forum that was about 200 meter west of Arch of Constantine.

Arch of Constantine

TOP: Arch of Constantine & the back side of Roman Forum
BOTTOM: the detail in one of legs of Arch; Via di S. Gregorio; the path in front of the arch

At the entrance, there’s a big map showing the route to explore this vast area. I’m not sure if you can get a map for Palatine Hill area, but what I did was I took a picture of the big map at the entrance, so whenever we felt lost, we could refer back to the map in my camera. If you want to explore the Palatine Hill & Capitoline Hill thoroughly, I found a good map on this website. Since we were tired (and I was a bit grumpy), we decided to explore the ruin as fast as we could – my hubby is not a fan of historic ruin 😦  I should mentioned that during summer in Rome, it was super hot even though it was 5 pm in the evening!!! Plus, the Palatine Hill was more like a desert area with little tree or shrub to shield us from the sun. So, we ended up only taking pictures of the unique and important stuffs that looked familiar to us hehehe…

Palatine Hill

Clockwise from the left: Palatine Hill Entrance; the map of the area; the sign at the beginning of the tour; the brick still stands!; the suggested detour due to restoration; the Stadium; the area near Acquedotto Claudio with lots of trees

To start our exploration, we followed a small pathway up just before Acquedotto Claudio (#21 on the map). This led us to an area where we could see the Stadium on the west side (#25). At the right side of the stadium, you can visit Domus Augustana (#26), Museo Palatino (#27), and Domus Flavia (#28). We skipped this area and instead walked toward the other end until we reached Arch of Titus (#14). When facing the Colosseum, you can see Antiquarium forense (#15) at the left side of the arch (the red brick building with a tower). This was used as a monastery but now, it’s a museum. If you walked at this direction, you’ll be back at the Colosseum. However, we decided to walk toward the other direction (Via Sacra) – to the further back of the Palatine Hill.

Palatine Hill-2

Arch of Titus

We saw more and more fragments of the Romans\ artifacts laying around the ground – I guess Romans left them in natural state to give a feeling how ancient the Palatine Hill is.  Along Via Sacra, we entered Tempio di Romolo. There is not much restoration work inside this old circular temple. The faded painting and the cracks on the wall were left as is while the back of the temple was gated. Next to it, Tempio di Antonino e Faustina (#10) stands. We then took a left turn to take a picture of the iconic 3 white tall pillars that were left from the original ruin of Tempio dei Castori (#8).

Tempio di Romolo

Tempio di Romolo

Tempio di Antonino e Fausta

Tempio di Antonino e Faustina

Tempio dei Castori

Tempio dei Castori and the ruins

We then passed the remains of Casa delle Vestali (#12) that was used to worship goddess in the ancient time. At the rear of the Palatine Hill, we saw Colonna di Foca (#4) and Arch of Septimius Severus (#3). On the opposite side of Colonna di Foca, we saw the seven pillars remains as part of the porch of Tempio di Saturno (#2) and the three pillars as the remains of the Tempio di Vespasiano.

Casa delle Vestali

Casa delle Vestali

Colonna di Foca

Colonna di Foca & Arch of Septimius Severus; Palatine Hill taken from near the arch

Tempio di Saturno

On the left is the seven pillars from Tempio di Saturno ruin; On the right is the ruin from Tempio di Vespasiano

Tempio di Vespasiano marked the end of the Palatine Hill. Behind the ruin, Palazzo del Senatore stands on Capitoline Hill. This building is now served as Capitoline Museum. At 6 pm, they announced that the Forum will be closed in 15 minutes!  And this annoying announcement was played every 5 minutes! Yeah yeah… we get it… Thank you! *sarcasm* We left the Forum via Campillo exit that closed at 6.15pm. There are actually several exit points throughout but it happened that we were close to Campillo one. This exit led us to the side of Il Vittoriano and Piazza Venezia. On the way up, we passed several old buildings and ruins. It was just amazing that after all these years, the Roman Forum still stands witnessing the world change.

Palazzo del Senatore back

The back side of Palazzo del Senatore (Capitoline Museum) that sits on Capitoline Hill

Palatine Hill exit

around Roman Forum

We also visited Trajan’s Column and took a snap in front of Santa Maria di Loreto church at Quirinal Hill, north of Roman Forum.

Quirinal Hill

Trajan’s Column and Santa Maria di Loreto church at Quirinal Hill

Since we arrived at exact time when Pantheon closed the day before, we decided to go there again on our way back to the apartment. A block prior reaching Pantheon, we stumbled upon an elephant obelisk in front of Santa Maria sopra Minerva church. The elephant was actually the work of Bernini, the famous Italian sculptor. Sound familiar? Remember Dan Brown’s Angel and Demon? Bernini is the creator of Ecstasy of Saint Teresa statue among his other remarkable works (including the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in Piazza Navona and St. Peter’s Baldachin – the high altar inside St. Peter’s Basilica!). Along the way, we saw interesting shops, such as a deli shop that hangs ham from the ceiling and a shop selling pastor outfits and ceremonial uniform. And Italians do love their moka coffee pot! There were some shops that specialize selling the coffee pots and accessories. Oh! And don’t forget the cute blue vespa taxi!

Elephant obelisk

Elephant obelisk in front of Santa Maria sopra Minerva

Pantheon area

Shops around Pantheon area

We arrived at Pantheon at about 6.20 pm! Yay! hahahah…. Since it’s free and not too crowded, we marched inside immediately.The most striking thing inside the Pantheon was the dome and its oculus. The material and its structure were meticulously planned that make Pantheon as one of the most preserved building in Rome. Pantheon was built as a temple to worship ancient Roman gods. Since the 7th century, it was converted into a Catholic church known as Santa Maria della Rotonda (St. Mary and the Martyrs). Pantheon also serves as tombs including the tomb of a famous Italian painter, Raphael.




Fontana del Pantheon

Fontana del Pantheon

Pantheon night

Pantheon at Night

The interesting thing about Rome is that the city is very religious (the Vatican – the centre of Catholicism- is right in the middle of the city!). On the other hand, it also believes in paganism as a way to celebrate certain Roman culture. It’s very similar to a lot of Chinese descendants who believe in Christianity. Lots of them still celebrate Chinese new year and others Chinese traditions although some may contradict the Christianity belief. But hey, who can say no to money in the bright red pocket during Chinese new year! hahaha….

After resting for awhile at the apartment, we went out for dinner. We found a pizzeria near Piazza Navona with no cover charge. They offer a €10 combo for pasta/ pizza & drink & espresso. It was nothing special with the food. It was just an average tourist restaurant. We walked toward Pantheon to go to supermarket that we saw earlier but it was already closed. *Duh… we forgot that European people aren’t keen on opening their store so late at night heheheh…*

Since we had no idea where to go, we just walked following where the crowds were. We found Gelateria della Palma, a gelato shop with 150 flavors! They also sells unique candies and chocolates shaped as flower bouquets. I must confess, I haven’t told you that since we had Grom gelato on the day before up till that night, we already had 4 gelatos in between! hahaha… Yes… Italian gelato is nyumiiii…. By the time we were at Gelateria della Palma, I wasn’t really want to have another one.

Della Parma

Gelateria della Palma

Well… it didn’t last long! We walked couple blocks and found a bar / restaurant / gelato shop, Giolotti. From the front, this shop didn’t look like a gelato shop due to its old Italian-style restaurant. However, there were lots of people holding a cone of big scoops of gelato stood in front of this shop. So, yeah, I GOTTA HAVE ONE!!! I was surprised when I saw the price board: a small cone with 2 flavors is only for €2.50!!! We looked at the cooler to see what flavors were available and they were LOTS! So, me and my husband decided to share a small cone. Here, you need to pay for what you’re gonna get at the cashier first and then show the receipt to the server who will then scoop your favorite flavor. I chose Zabioni and Limoncello – just because it sounded weird hahaha… The server asked if I want crema (whipped cream) on top of my gelato. At first, it sounded weird but I said yes anyway. Believe me, you MUST have the crema!!! I don’t know how can they make such an airy and light whipped cream that complements the creamy-smooth texture of the gelato. The crema balanced off the sweetness of the gelato. It was just a heavenly combination in my mouth!  My recommendation is that everyone who visited Rome MUST TRY Giolitti!!! It was super good! It’s the BEST GELATO in the world – in my opinion. Ah… it was the perfect dessert to end the night. I slept happily and contented that night – I even forgot about my sharp pain on my ankle hahahaa…




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