Thursday September 27th
Today was our last full day in Rome and we still had a ton we wanted to see. We called this day our Roman Day because we were going to focus on Roman history with the Coliseum, Roman Forum, and Pantheon. We also wanted to visit the other 3 major basilicas; St. John the Lateran, St. Mary Maggiore, and St. Paul Outside the Walls.
We started the morning with coffee and pastries as usual and then took the metro to St. John the Lateran. This church is actually the official seat of the bishop of Rome, which is the pope. We walked in the back entrance not knowing it because it was still so beautiful. The front was massive and grand from the outside.
We read in our guide book about some holy stairs that were just around the corner. They are said to have been in the home of Pontius Pilate and that Jesus walked these stairs to his conviction. Pilgrims climb the stairs on their knees reciting prayers. There are small glass encased spots of Jesus’ blood. We decide to give it a try. It was a very reverent place even though there were a lot of people outside. The glass cases were there but they were very weathered from time so you couldn’t make out any real sign of blood.
We left there and took the metro to the Coliseum. Thanks to our Roma Pass, we skipped a major line and walked right in. We followed our guide book through all the major points of interest. All I could think about was the movie Gladiator. It was truly amazing/terrifying how brutal the Romans were and I was shocked to read that entrance was free all those years ago.
After the Coliseum, we walked next door to the Roman Forum. To us it looked like a bunch of Roman ruins, which it is, but touring through and reading what each section of rubble used to be, really made it come to life!! It’s hard to believe that these buildings were around BC!
The Roman Forum was connected to Palatine Hill so we walked up there which was more peaceful and shaded than the forum. After Palatine, we searched and searched for a lunch spot. We settled for a kabob sandwich near Termini Station which turned out to be so good. The guys at the shop hassled us to eat there but we insisted on taking it to go.
To use up our other free admission with the Roma Pass, we toured the Roman Capitoli Museum where there was a major protest going on outside. This museum was a bit disappointing because most of the exhibits were under construction and it was hard to find our way around. We left there and hopped on a train to St. Paul Outside the Walls which barely fit into our Roma Pass district. We made it there at about 6:45 to learn that it closes at 6:30:(. We were super sad that we couldn’t go in, but it was so beautiful from the outside too. There was a park out front and to the side of the basilica so we sat on a bench and people watched (man doing Karate) and dog watched (setters playing fetch) until the sun went down.
For dinner, we ate at a restaurant that had tables all along the side walk. We ordered a bottle of their house wine which actually had a custom label…it was delicious. Joe had a margarita pizza and spaghetti while I had a salad and ravioli. I loved dinners in Rome because you can eat and lounge and people watch. They also have mounds of Parmesan cheese they bring out just as naturally as ketchup in the states. After dinner we went to our Gelato guy and he hooked us up one last time with a fruit combo of strawberry, cream, and melon. SO GOOD!!!