After a tiring night with Sudha Parimala bouncing on the bed until 2 am (yawn… ), we finally left at 11am.
Our destination – The Colosseum and The Forum Romanum, both just minutes away from our hotel.
We walked down Fori di Emperiali until we came to the Colosseum. We decided to buy tickets at the Palatine Hill, just around the corner from the Colosseum. Instead of dragging the gogoKidz all around the “corner”, I decided to wait while Guru went to get tickets. Sudha Parimala entertained herself chasing pigeons. But it took so long for Guru to bring the tickets that maybe it would’ve been the same time for us to stand in line and buy them at the Colosseum instead.
We stood in the long line to get in, not really admiring the architecture, we were too busy entertaining a toddler who did NOT like being strapped in the carseat while there was all these lovely nooks and corners to explore! The entrance to the Colosseum opened up into the first level. At first, even I – a total imaginative history buff, was a bit startled at the ruins. All we could see was ruins all around and a labyrinth of ruined walls on the ground. From that level, the Colosseum did not feel all that colossal!
Once we went to the next level, everything fell into the picture! One small part of the stage was reconstructed – including the marble seats where the Emperor and the Vestal Virgins sat. I could admire the huge structure and the labyrinths underneath got their meaning and I could see the entire structure as a huge sports stadium.
Kind of a pity actually, that the mighty Roman Empire had to show-off their mightiness through barbaric games. And also kind of expected, as isn’t that what the victorious do – rub their victories in the face of the defeated?
The Forum Romanum
Anyway, once we were out of the the Colosseum, we headed to the Forum. Out of the many Forums in Rome, this one was the main Forum – the main area which was THE hang out of ancient Roman. To our dismay we found the path between The Colosseum and The Forum to be paved with huge stones, not the smaller cobblestones that we had somehow learned to negotiate with the gogoKidz! Expecting only the entrance to be that way, we lifted the now sleeping Sudha Parimala along with the gogoKidz to the first arch. My hopes were dashed when I saw most of the area of the Forum paved with similar stones. And with a sleeping baby, there was no way we could lift the heavy contraption all around.
Guru offered to stay back near the entrance and let me go alone (I think he was happy to stay back, he said he had “seen it all” just from the view from the entrance). Very guiltily, I think I enjoyed that sojourn most! I walked along the Forum roads (some of the stones survive from the days of the Emperors), drinking in the ruins – imagining myself in a togo among the wonderful buildings of my imagination. The Temple of Saturn had me in awe, standing underneath the ruins and seeing the huge pillars rise above. The house of the Vestal Virgins brought a smile – what an unlucky honour to be chosen. I could see Mark Anthony give his “Friends Romans Countrymen” speech at Caesar’s funeral. THIS was Caesar’s Rome, THIS was the ancient Rome in all its glory that I had so longed to see.
Yes, I have an over-imaginative imagination. 🙂
After a leisurely stroll, often backtracking to see something I’d missed, I returned to find a Guru who was at the end of his patience trying to get Sudha Parimala out of the nearby water fountain. He had had enough and looked forward to his Siesta. Needless to say, the Italian Siesta was his favourite part of the trip.
Eager to see the one surviving structure from ancient Rome, we set out for the Pantheon. But .. from the minute we entered it, Sudha Parimala hated it. She was uber-cranky, not having a nap and refused to have anything to do with it. To make things worse, she would shriek at the top of her voice and the Pantheon’s dome made it sound all the more louder! We stayed just long enough to pay homage to Rafael’s tomb. The evening service started in there and we literally ran out to stop Sudha Parimala from embarrasing us!
After a bribe of some Gelato and acting all sorts silly, we finally bundled her into the carseat and set out for Piazza Navona.
Piazza Navona and THE Bernini’s fountain that I was dying to see (being fueled more by descriptions in Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons). There was also a Christmas market there that I was sure Sudha Parimala would enjoy. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the tired no-nap baby had fallen asleep. And my long awaited fountain – was being renovated and all covered up 🙁 My disappointment was compounded on realizing that the fountain was the only Bernini that I’d actively included in my itenary. We weren’t visiting any other churches (nothing religious – only didn’t fancy repeating the Pantheon visit with a cranky toddler), and even though the Vatican museum does house a lot of Berninis, it wasn’t the same.
And the Christmas market – actually made the Piazza feel very tacky. I went there expecting an open place where people sat in cafes and watched kids run around, but instead found a little fairground with people walking around stalls.
The most amazing Pizza ever!
Sudha Parimala was still asleep, and my disappointment over the Piazza Navona got us going to dinner early – at a little pizza place near the hotel. It was the most amazing pizza ever!! Oven pizza and the toppings were so different from the American pizzas. It was the most enjoyed meal in Rome and Sudha Parimala slept all through! And continued to sleep when we returned to the hotel and transfered her into the bed … and not a peep until she woke up in the morning at 8am! A good night’s sleep from 4.30pm – 8am! Unheard of !!!
Inside the Pantheon – Trying to desperately stop her from screaming. And that’s my new travel diaper bag – Posh Baby Ultimate(PBU), Love it!
Piazza Navona – Bernini’s fountain and obelisk, all covered up
Over the weekend, we checked out of the hotel and decided to walk down to the Colosseum/Forum again and hangout until lunchtime. To our pleasant surprise, we found the entire stretch of Fori Di Emperialli, the road leading to the Colosseum was closed to traffic. There were people everywhere, and Sudha Parimala ran amuck chasing dogs and pigeons and horse carriages.
She ran behind one dog but the little boy leading the dog with his mother turned and saying no, indicated that it would bite. Poor Sudha, she didn’t understand why she couldn’t go near the dog and pouted , as if to cry. But the joy of running unbridled in the street was far more than her disappointment over the dog.
We had lunch at a nearby place. Ordered a salad and pasta, and the salad was among the worst I’ve had and the pasta, among the best! Eating and managing Sudha Parimala was a challenge in itself.
A fast lunch later we were heading to the airport, conversing with the cabbie in the couple of words of Italian I’d learnt, onward to Dubai.
Having a free reign at the Fori Di Emperialli.