Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday June 22, 2015

Had a wonderful tour yesterday of the Forum, Palatine Hill and Coloseum. It was Sunday so all these spots were quite busy. The day got off to a rocky start when we decided to sit and have coffee at an outdoor cafe while waiting for our tour to begin. The bill for one medium cappuccino and one medium cafe latte? Almost twenty euros! Unbelievable. I guess we should have known when the menu didn't include prices until the last page (which we didn't see until after we placed our order).

At least the coffees were big!

Our tour guide was very good, informative and brief (a rare combination). Also the tour group was small and included another couple from the cruise we just ended. Small world.

Weather continues to be comfortable with highs in the low eighties. This is a good thing because you could easily bake out there with all those antiquities and very little shade.

Views of the Forum from Palatine Hill

The most interesting sight for me in the Forum was an triumphal arch dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish temple and the sacking of its treasures which were brought back to Rome but then "lost". Can you imagine losing the original artifacts from the temple of Jerusalem? Talk about a big "oops". Personally, I would check the Vatican -- that's all I am saying.

View of coloseum from third tier

The coloseum is very large that is the first thing that strikes you upon seeing it. That and the fact that the building is undergoing a thorough cleaning and stabilization effort meaning (of course) that a good deal of the exterior is covered in scaffolding. 

Just as in the Forum it's funny to see what remains of the past and how/if these things strike the fancy of modern day visitors. The coloseum obviously impresses people now as it must have when it was first constructed but it's strange to me that a building devoted to violence and butchery should be so popular with modern day visitors.

We went on a special tour that allowed us to visit the basement and the third tier which are two areas normally not accessible to visitors. It was certainly worth it if only to escape the crowds.

View of Coloseum from "basement"

The Sunday afternoon crowd

Today we went on another food tour. The area we explored is called Trastevere. It's a great neighborhood with a real neighborhood feel to it. Of course it was Monday today so it wasn't too crowded or busy. The star of the tour, other than our tour guide Jasmine, was the Porchetta at this one shop. Juicy, with bits of well-browned meat and a pleasant  rosemary flavor. Fantastic-o. Or as the gal at the cookie shop we visited showed us, it was "crazy good".

Here he is -- the king of Porchetta!

And his ninety-something year old mother who works as the cashier and as you can imagine takes no guff

Holding your finger to your temple means "crazy" in Italy and holding your finger to your dimple while smiling means "good"  (as in something tastes good). Therefore combination of the two gestures equals "crazy good" -- according to our tour guide this gal is the first to use these two gestures in tandem.

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