Sunday, October 25, 2009

Colosseum Lovin' on Such an Autumn's Day

Colosseum, you big ol' crazy hunk of rock you – who could say you were unimpressive, and that they didn't love you? What type of person would ever hold such a view as that? Maybe the type of person who arrived from the south in the rain? But never someone who arrived from the north, looking at your slanted cracked exterior, and marveling at what secrets might be hidden away inside!

And oh what secrets it holds. The type that make you wake up at seven o'clock (not that hard due to daylight savings giving you an extra hour of sleep) and checking out – throwing your gear in the luggage room, and then hightailing it over to the subway, so you can be first in line for the tourist experience that all those who travel to Rome must embark upon.

And first in line I was. Twenty minutes later, when the gates opened, I was third to buy my ticket. A disaster! But fear not, for people who had their Rome pass, and should have been able to go right in, couldn't figure out the swiping system, bogging up all the lines, stopping other people who bought tickets from getting in. With a quick spineronie, and fast break, I was around them all, and first into the ancient stadium.

Ah yes, and how I marveled at my solitude. It was just me, and the guy in the orange vest, down below, doing whatever job it is he does. Many pictures were taken in rapid succession, as I attempted to get as many pure shots as possible before – and then there they came – everyone else spilling in. Honestly, I was surprised I had as long to myself as I did. Those Rome Pass people must have really gummed up the mechanisms. All the better for me, I guess.

And is it worth the twelve euro to go inside? Yes, I'd say it was. Just to be there, where so many others were before you, is an impressive feeling. And it's only from the inside that you can see the labyrinth of rooms, walls, and doorways in the grounds below. It would be here that the gladiators prepared, that animals were housed, and that many dark deeds were done.

There is also an audio tour, which I'm told is quite good if you don't know anything about the building – but, if you've watched the movie Gladiator once or twice, you're probably best to skip it.

The guy who worked the desk at the hostel said that this is the type of place you need to spend only twenty minutes in. He tells lies. I tried to run through it as quick as possible – aware of my train leaving later in the day – and it still ran a good forty five minutes. And it really was a good forty five minutes, not a boring, or a dawdling, or a trying to fill time forty five minutes. And I had no one to talk to about what I was seeing – factor that time in, and you'll probably want to spend a good hour and a half here, alone.

Now twelve euro may sound steep for an entrance fee here – and it is. The ticket also allows you access to the Roman Forum, and the other ruins on the hill where all the Emperors built their palaces.

Running across the road, and down the street, arms flailing, no doubt, like a madman, I rushed through the entrance to the ruins. The train would leave without me. Sure I still had two and a half hours – but, you know, ruins.

So once more, I ran through the ruins, trying to take in everything that I could. And let me tell you, they are far more impressive as you walk through them, than when you just look at them from behind the guard rails. Sure that view was free, but... it just doesn't compare to walking the same steps, that Ceaser once did.

You may think to yourself, as I no doubt did, that you've seen all the ruins you'd ever need to see – but just like people who have been “churched out” will still marvel at the Vatican, and those who have been castled out will still make their way to Edinburgh's Castle (well... I didn't, but – you know) and those who have been Arted out will still go to The Louvre (o.k. again – a bad example in my case...) but these were some impressive places within which to walk.

Running through it took an hour and a half here. I would have loved to spent more time. I would have loved to have packed a lunch and eaten it in the upper gardens. But there was no time, and no such luck. So out I rushed, back onto the metro, back to my hostel (stopping only once for some more pay by the weight pizza, made with sliced mozzarella and fresh tomatoes and a jug of juice. Then it was off to Termini, and on to Florence.

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