Egypt in Rome?
The area around the station of Ostiense might not be the most elegant but there certainly are interesting sights. When I visited Rome for the first time I came in by train from Fiumicino. On the way I suddenly spotted a pyramid on my left hand side.
Wasn't I surprised, was I?
There is a real pyramide in Rome close to the station of Ostiense. It's not as huge as the ones in Egypt, but it's still massive.
Go and have a look at it!
Basilica di San Clemente
This attractive church is a few minutes walk from the Colosseum, up Via di San Giovanni in Laterano. The basilica is airy, with an attractive cloister. A gorgeous mosaic in the apse is rich and colourful, with charming animal details. But the best attraction lies underground. In the Basilica di San Clemente, three levels of history are preserved one above the other. Below the present church, which was begun in 1108 and reconstructed six centuries later, lies an older church. This is an extremely ancient place of worship, and was mentioned by St Jerome in 392. It was destroyed by the Normans, and the later church was built above it, but you can still walk around the earlier structure and admire some remarkable frescoes. These include a fine account of the life of St. Alexis - read the entertaining text provided.
The deepest level consists of ancient Roman constructions, including a narrow alleyway and an assortment of small rooms including an early Christian meeting place. The most interesting section is the Mithraeum, with its characteristic stone benches and Mithraic altar, and a Mithraic 'schoolroom'.
Tip: the small shop/ticket office sells a very good range of postcards, including details of the mosaic which make good gifts and Christmas cards. Entrance to the subterranean archeological site is €3.
Quo Vadis, Baby?
For the most of you Arena Garbatella will stay forever an unknown spot...It doesn't matter.
It is for me, as a place far from any others nightlife spot in Roma.
Why the tip? Just to remeber. It's not required any special kind of dress, take just with you the right feeling to spend 2 hours watching a movie sat in a park, waiting for the break to eat pop-corn and share a beer.
A unique local experience
The welcome from Vito himself was legendary..
"Buono Sera.. I am Vito Corleone.. you must come inside now and eat in my restaurant."
And who were we to refuse?
The restaurant was simple and clean, the food was fantastic. Very traditional fare served somewhat slow, but if you're dining in Roma.. why rush? Our group of 8 were warmly received and catered for beautifully. The Prosecco, which was chilled to perfection, was fantastic and around Euro 8 a bottle.
Nothing was too much trouble for the staff, and from the Prima piati to the dolce everything was served piping hot, and beautifully fresh.
The owners wife, Dina was a character, punctuated her sentences with screams to the kitchen in Italian, and then smiled sweetly back at us as if we hadn't heard a thing because it was said in a different language!
This one is most definitely on my return to list when I get back to Roma. All of their Antipasti and Prima Piati (starters) were amazing and the kids all raved about the pizzas.
Roma Pass lets you jump the line
I've seen the outside of the Colosseum a few years ago, so this time, my friends and I decided to actually go inside. Armed with the Roma Pass, which includes a 3 day transport pass and admission to 2 of the sites on the list, we hopped onto the metro to get to the Colosseo station. The station is just around the corner from the actual site.
We found out pretty quickly that Roma Pass holders have a special line to enter the site, so we zipped inside in about 5 minutes, mainly because it takes about 3 minutes to walk from the entrance to the Roma Pass scanners. The Roma Pass line is right next to the Group ticket line. As far as we can tell, the line for buying tickets barely bulged during this time. The pass does not include the audio guide rental though.
The interior of the Colosseum is interesting, but as we did not have any audio guide (or guidebooks), we were not able to appreciate the architecture as much. Since we got to the site at around 11am or so, the site was quite crowded, so it actually took a while for us to circle the upper level of the Colosseum. Then we had trouble finding the stairs that will take you to the bottom tier to take a closer look at the area that was under the stage. It was rather hot at that time, so bring lots of water. We ended up staying about 1.5 hours, although much of it was spent just trying to get around the place than actually "sightseeing".
Since my group has only a passing interest in architecture and the fact that we got off the plane about 3 hours before, the 1.5 hour visit was not as enjoyable as we'd initially hoped. (That's not to say the site itself wasn't interesting, we just weren't in the right frame of mind to appreciate it.) Oh, the guys in Roman Gladiator costumes are very aggressive, so beware when you try to take pictures of them.
If you want an unobstructed view of the Colosseum, make sure you visit the much less crowded (and more tree-lined) Palatine Hills. We were able to take crazy pictures with the Colosseum in the background for 5 to 10 minutes before people even noticed us.