Europe 14 - Day 18
Our time in Florence was over, we were travelling this morning on the Frecciarossa 9561 to Rome departing Florence at 09.19. It was a short journey, just over an hour. We were booked into a hotel in Rome close to the main station. From there we planned to walk to the Colosseum, through the Forum and back to the hotel. The weather of course had a different intention. Soon after we departed Florence the clouds gathered and by the time we were in Rome it was raining steadily. But we did get to see the Colosseum by eating pizza at a cafe overlooking the old Roman ruin until the rain cleared.
Florence to Rome
We waited on the platform at Florence along with a few others, both local Italians and tourists. Despite some of the tourists trying to remain inconspicuous, the difference was obvious. It reminded me that no matter how hard we might try, we would never be able to blend in to this part of the world. We noted the presence of a few police (armed of course) wandering the platform and a woman who appeared to be waiting for the train but who did not appear to be able to afford it. The train swept in, the doors opened and a rush of people came off, including a couple of men who appeared to be travellers and who handed down the heavy cases of two people and then got off themselves. Nice to see some friendly help I thought.... Suddenly the woman who had been lurking swooped in and grabbed one of our cases, handing it up to one of the men who had rushed back onto the carriage from the other door. He was joined by the other man who attempted to wrestle my case from me in order to stow it on the luggage rack. I fought him off and placed it where I wanted it. We then sat down. The two men then approached us demanding payment for their "assistance". They did not get it and were most indignant, coming back a few minutes later to have another try. At that moment the train intercom asked all people who were not travelling to Florence to get off the train. They departed, only for the woman to be "interviewed" by the police waiting on the platform.
This was our first visit to Rome. We only had half a day to ourselves before we joined up with a special organised tour that would take us to Cassino as part of the 70th commemorations of that great battle back in 1944. As we walked down Via Cavour towards the Colosseum the rain started. We had umbrellas with us, but so did many of the other people walking along, making it difficult to pass them without getting spiked. We found the Colosseum, the queue was long and obviously getting wetter, so we took advantage of the sheltered tables at a cafe overlooking the area and had pizza and coffee for an early lunch. The rain cleared, so we headed down the hill, bought tickets for the Colosseum and Forum and in we went.
Wandering through the Roman Forum
Adjacent to the Colosseum is Augustine's Arch and then the entrance to the Forum. The Forum is a large area of ruins that includes several important sites. We walked through this in a hurry as the clouds were gathering and it was threatening to rain - again.
Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II
Just beyond the Forum and north-west of the Colosseum is the immense structure of the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II or "Il Vittoriano". It is built of white marble and can be seen from throughout Rome. It now contains The Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Flame. It is claimed that most Italians hate the structure, naming it "the typewriter". It is also known as the "torta nuziale" (the wedding cake), "zuppa Inglese" (an Italian dessert resembling layered trifle) or the more derogatory "pisciatoio nazionale".
Last updated: 26/10/2014