The Rome guidebook suggests dozens of sights, each one of them sounding important and interesting. It is hard to get an overview and make decisions of which places to see and which to leave out. You could easily spend weeks in Rome visiting all the sights and museums, indulging in food and culture and enjoy the atmosphere.
We start our day walking into the Monument of Emmanuel, enjoying the views over Rome from the balcony. We then proceed to the Roman Forum, trying to imagine how it used to look like 2000 years ago with the help of some pictures in our Rome book.
The Roman Forum today and reconstructed:
A museum is part of the forum, displaying discoveries and finds of old mosaics, perfume bottles made from glass, plates, sculptures of domesticated animals, artwork, pottery and so on. We are amazed at how far developed the old Romans were.
From the Forum we walk up Palatine Hill. According to Roman mythology, the Palatine Hill was the location of the cave, known as the Luprcal, where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf that kept them alive. When they were older, the boys killed their great-uncle (who seized the throne from their grandfather), and they both decided to build a new city of their own on the banks of the River Tiber. Suddenly, they had a violent argument with each other and in the end Romulus killed his twin brother Remus. This is how “Rome” got its name – from Romulus.
Rome has its origins on the Palatine. Indeed, recent excavations show that people have lived there since approximately 1000 BC.
Behind Palatine Hill is the Circus Maximus, which is an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue. It measured 621 m (2,037 ft) in length and 118 m (387 ft) in width, and could accommodate about 150,000 spectators. Today it rather looks like a long football field. We read that the remains are still buried underneath and excavations are yet to be undertaken.
Getting hungry, we cross the beautiful river Tiber, looking at isola Tiberina, and stop for our first Italian Pizza in Trastevere.
Feeling reinvigorated after a decent lunch, we walk back past the camper van and towards the Via Torre di Argentina, to the cat sanctuary “Roman Cats”. Until recently feral cats have lived throughout Rome, struggling to survive. The cat sanctuary gives them a home, food and neuters them, so they can’t reproduce. We are being introduced to the last cat that lived in the Colosseum and also a 3-legged cat that is happily climbing the vertical grid on the window. The healthy cats have access to an outside area, the ruins of an old Roman forum, which is also the location of Julius Caesar’s assassination.
We leave a small donation and follow our guide book to the nearby Fountain of Trevi. Being 26m high and 20m wide, it is the largest baroque fountain in Rome. We find a huge accumulation of tourists around the fountain and I have to climb up on a bench to actually see the full size of it.
We make the Pantheon our last destination. The Pantheon is a mighty circular concrete building, with large Corinthian columns and a concrete dome with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. It is a temple to all the gods of ancient Rome and was rebuilt in about 126 AD. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres (142 ft).
Exhausted and tired we return to our van for a good night sleep.