The sun was shining, the temperature had rocketed and the train was on time. From the outset, I knew I was going to love Rome and it’s certainly placed itself as one of my favourite cities. 4 days was a good amount of time to get round and see the main sights but I could have easily stayed a week or more. It’s a capital that just oozes activity and I couldn’t ever imagine getting bored there.
Our apartment was a great room situated in the south of the city, an easy metro ride from the main train station, Termini. Rome has only two metro lines so they’re a lot easier to get your head around than the dizzying London Underground. We mainly used the metro for destinations on the outside of the city as the centre areas are easily walkable. One ride costs €1.50 and you’ve got 100 minutes in which to take it, so it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than London as well.
As it was closest to us (and probably the sight we were most excited for) we headed straight for the Colosseum when we arrived. What’s great about the whole Ancient Rome site is that the ticket is valid for 2 days and gets you entry into the Roman ruins and the Colosseum. We spent the first day at the ruins and then looked inside the Colosseum on the second day. Most people do it the other way round so we got into the ruins a lot quicker, since the pre-bought ticket queue was much longer. Entry is €12 for adults, €7.50 for 18-24 year old EU citizens (another reason to remain in the EU folks!) and free under 18 EU citizens so it’s really well priced for what you get.
The Roman ruins really blew me away. I had no idea the site was that big. It’s absolutely huge. We spent a whole afternoon there and didn’t see everything. There are some fantastic viewpoints from which you get great panoramas of Ancient and Modern Rome, as well as a whole host of architectural wonders which have been brilliantly preserved. I probably preferred wandering amongst this site more than I enjoyed the inside of the Colosseum itself. It’s all really well laid out and whilst it was busy, it’s so big that the other people never really bother you. And whenever you walk round you’ve pretty much always got the incredible Colosseum as a backdrop.
The Colosseum itself is next to, but separate from, the ruins. Like so many incredible sights of the world, it sits right next to a main road. I’m not sure I’d ever get used to my daily commute taking me past the Colosseum every day. The structure is every bit as impressive as you’d imagine. Different bits of it are being restored at any one time though luckily for our visit, all the scaffolding was at the back (in direct view of all the cafes and bars who must have been a bit miffed). Seeing it full on and close up is really something else.
The next morning we went inside, which involves standing in the longest queue I’ve ever seen. Even if you pre-buy your ticket (or have already got a ticket from the ruins), you have to queue up since you’re not dispersed until after the security checks. The queue moved pretty quickly and we were inside within half an hour or so but it’s quite a shock to see this gigantic queue snaking half the circumference of the Colosseum. I guess that’s part of the reason why I liked the inside of the Colosseum a bit less than the ruins. It’s obviously a much smaller space but there’s loads of people.
It’s still impressive though and there are loads of helpful exhibits and information inside. The central arena is particularly impressive. It’s just staggering to walk round the whole thing when you think of its history and how long it’s been there for, not to mention the fact it looks so damn good!