The 3rd day in Rome was reserved for visiting these sites. I had booked the ticket online for 17 Euros per head to skip the lines. We took a bus to the area and joined the queue which was actually longer for those who booked tickets online. The metro connectivity is better to this area since the station is right outside. We booked a English guide for 5 Euros per head. The price of guide was lower since we were not given any earphones and the guide did not have a mic. It is so weird that all the guides in Rome are archaeologists.
We started with the Colosseum which was an amphitheatre in 80 AD. Gladiator fights, animal hunts, executions etc were held here. In fact, there is a theory that animal hunting was so popular that many species in Rome became extinct and the most dangerous animal was the bear (and not the lion). The Colosseum is mostly in ruins now and there is restoration still going on.
Next we went to the Roman Forum. It is nothing but the ruins of the centre of the city. It had temples, canal, markets etc. It is ok kinds. I mean, everything is in ruins. It is amazing how we pay money to see ruins. I wish the Indian government would wake up to this opportunity and focus on tourism. Even Tughlaqabad Fort in Delhi is an important part of the city’s history. Why can’t it be restored and converted into a major tourist spot? Do you know that the entry charge is only Rs 5? International tourists will easily pay Rs 500 bucks for entry. Let’s milk them for what it’s worth.
Our next stop was the Palatine Hill. This is the location where Rome has its origins. You climb up a slight hill, see the view of the city and the Roman Forum below and come across more ruins of a palace.
The ticket for these 3 locations is valid for 2 days because it involves a lot of walking around. We decided to finish it in 2 hours and didn’t take a guide for the Roman Forum or Palatine Hill. If you do take a guide, covering everything could easily take 3-4 hours. The weather in Rome is decent enough… it is sunny but not hot. And evenings are very, very pleasant. Also, there are water refill points everywhere. All you have to do is buy a small bottle of water when you reach Rome and then keep refilling it at the water points. Very convenient. That is not the case in Naples or Milan though.
Beware of the pricey food around the Colosseum. Even the vendors charge double. A bottle of water which costs 1 Euro everywhere else will be 1.5-2 Euros here. Gelato will cost an extra Euro. We had to walk quite a bit to find an affordable food place. Unlike the Vatican, there are no delis and cafes around. We spotted a Burger king board which said… 3 minutes ahead. So we kept walking and it took us 15-20 minutes to reach the place. There is a subway too near the Burger King.
Today is our last day in Rome and tomorrow we head to Florence. The most hectic part of travelling is done and the next 3 days should be more relaxed. Atleast I hope so. We spent today exploring the markets of Rome. There is nothing affordable. We started with the Popolo area which has only high end shops- Gucci, Prada, Missoni, Herve Leger etc. We then walked to Cola di Rienzo which did not have anything interesting. We went to the department store Coin which has high end brands for clothes, home, perfumes, make up etc etc. I had the best macaroon of my life there. I also picked up some stuff from Body Shop which is not available in India.
Our next stop was the area around Termini. It has mid range shops like Zara and local boutiques. I managed to buy a really good purse… atleast it seems really good right now. Only time will tell how good the quality is. The store OVS has some affordable casual wear and make up brands like Physicians Formula, L’Oreal, Shaka etc. You can also check out the store Blue Sand. I managed to find some decent stuff for less than 20 Euros.
Basically, there is nothing exciting to shop for in Rome unless you like premium brands. You will come across places where these brands are available at a 70-80% discount. I am just 99% short of the money to shop there.
I like Rome but it is not as exciting as Naples or Milan. The hustle bustle is missing. The roads are deserted. There is no nightlife. It is almost boring. Don’t get me wrong… I had a fabulous time but am not coming back. One can easily spend 6-7 days in the city, there is a lot to explore. But if I ever have that kind of time and money, am going to spend it in Naples near the coast. Naples has a Goa vibe.