Sunday: Blue skies, temperatures in the mid 60's, a whole city to explore. First stop the Colosseum. Well, second stop actually, first stop was a little cafe for a couple of caffe lattes and pastries to fortify ourselves.
Top Picnicsintheharbour Colosseum Tip:
The queues for the Colosseum suck. You have to queue for security, then queue for tickets. OR you can head on down past the Arch of Constantine to the Palatino booking office. The ticket's valid for both and there aren't any queues there. You still have to queue for security, BUT you can just keep left past all the people queuing for tickets and down to the turnstiles.
Once inside, the Colosseum is as impressive as I'd expected it to be.
OK, I know, everyone knows what it looks like, but it's this huge structure that's been there since 72AD. According to the blurb it was still in use for housing and workshops right through to the 19th Century. I'd assumed the missing South side of the outer ring had collapsed gradually through neglect, but it collapsed during an earthquake in 1349.
Next stop, a little light lunch at a pavement cafe just up the Via dei fori imperiali and then on to the Palatine and the Forum. It's breathtaking stuff, but fortunately Wikipedia tells the story, so I don't have to.
I have to make mention of the Basilica di Constantino, though. It contained the law courts of Imperial Rome and enough of it's still standing (with a little help from some high-tech steel supports) to get a real idea of the grandeur of the place.
It's hard to make out the octagonal pattern beneath the arches, but pay attention, we'll be re-visiting tomorrow.
We surprised ourselves by still having the energy to head across to the Pantheon, the most astonishingly complete of Rome's ancient buildings, it seems to me. As far as I can tell, saved by a) being a Christian church for much of its history and b) being located in one of the few areas of Rome that remained populated continuously between the decline of imperial Rome and its renaissance in the, well, in the renaissance.
That was it for us, we managed to stagger exhausted to the Metro for a quick snooze before heading off out for dinner with Andrea and Grazia. Andrea is one of Missy's Sabre colleagues and Grazia is his beautiful wife of 30(?) years. We had a great time, eating at Ristorante il Ciak across the Tiber in Trastavere. It's one of those gems of a restaurant that you'd never find in a million years if you didn't have a local guide. A wonderful, unpretentious local eating place specialising in meat. Lots of it!