The Daphne B&B is expensive, but we get two full rooms, a solid breakfast, and good assistance with reservations, tours and directions. We’re not on our usual up-early schedule, and we eat coffee, salami and yogurt around 9am.
Our cash has run out and our ATM cards don’t work. We hadn’t planned on going to the Spanish Steps, but we walk over there in the mid-morning cool sunshine, because there is an American Express nearby. At the top of the steps we peek into the Church – Trinita Dei Monti. The art is great and we light some candles, which is always exciting (Fire! Yeah!). On our way down the steps, a man comments ‘bella bambini’ at our girls. They sure are.
The American Express can get us cash, but they need passports, which we failed to bring. Doh! We decide that cash is essential before the 3-day Easter weekend, and decide to deal with it before we do any further sightseeing.
The metro ride back to the hotel is one stop, and we set up a skype call to Bank of America. It seems there is nothing wrong with our cards, it’s the ATM system in Rome that’s causing the problem. They suggest going up to a teller, which we do. At the bank, Trish takes a number and is made to wait for ages, while tellers chat with one another. Even the Italians present seem outraged.
Finally Trish’s number is called and the bank teller throws up her arms and says she can’t help. Try another bank, she suggests. Luckily the one up the street works, and cash secured, we pop on the metro next door for the short trip to the Coliseum.
“You must get get your coliseum tickets here with our tour.” “It closes in 20 minutes for the Pope.” “Skip the one-hour ticket line” The crowds outside the Coliseum metro are assaulted by dozens of tour operators, cheap food stands and tables and tables of cheap sunglasses. They could be lying, but it is Easter Friday, and we quicken our pace anticipating some hassle.
Above us rises the Coliseum, which doesn’t disappoint. Even though we’ve seen it hundreds of times in pictures, it’s still a moving experience to be present. On a tip from the guidebook, we head south a half-mile to the Entrance of the Palatine, the former homes of the Roman Aristocracy. There you can buy a combined ticket that includes the Coliseum, and save a little waiting in line.
It’s 1:30 and as we approach the ticket office, there is a tiny sign confirming that both the Palatine and Coloseum closes in 30 minutes for a Papal service on Easter Friday! Dammit. We make a quick decision to push it and attempt both sights. We have little time in Rome, and getting back here will be difficult.
Fortunately it’s a gorgeous day, and even though we practically run through the place, the ruins of homes that housed Emporers and their families are beautiful.
The day before, at the Time Elevator, they told the story of Romulus and Remus, who are reputed to have founded Rome when Romulus kills his brother in a dispute about the location of the city. The murder is reported to have taken place in the Palatine, and Lily asks several times if we are going to find the dead body. She is unconvinced by my assurance that there would be no bodies so I picked a spot marked by some boulders and told her that was the exact spot the murder happened. “See, no bodies.” She is satisfied.
Our short visit needs to come to an end, even though we didn’t get as far as the Senate, Roman forums and courts. The last entrance to the Coloseum is in 5 minutes. We briefly loose Trish on our rapid exit, scaring Lily. But she was only a little ways behind us taking pictures.
The Coloseum is packed, but we get in and start on the lower tier, with views of the basement/dungeon that housed the sets, animals and Gladiators during the shows. At it’s peak, the coliseum hosted 50,000 people, watching a thousand animals die each day. They covered the arena with sand to soak up the blood. Gruesome.
Upstairs in the shade are some great gladiator artifacts, including a spectacular bug-eye helmet. The girls have walked now for a few hours without food or water and have both begin to tire out, so we speed our exit and sit nearby at a restaurant that over charges us for food that was lousy and even for some we didn’t order. We’ve been tourist trapped.
Next door is a kids exhibit a bit like the time elevator. They give us a short class about the Palatine and Coloseum, in barely understandable English. The 3d movie is funny enough, but the highlight is trying on costumes at the end. We find it very amusing.
A taxi to the Pantheon saves the little legs from exhaustion. We are all getting tired, it’s about 5pm. The Pantheon is shoulder-to-shoulder packed with people readying for some Easter related service. It’s a beautiful building, but none of us realized it had been converted into a Christian church. We wanted to see the pagan gods!
Lily’s legs have given out and she has a blister, so up on my shoulders she rides the rest of the way. Gelatto outside the pantheon is outrageously priced ($25 for 3 scoops an espresso and a coke). Next door to the gelato, there is an ‘invisible’ man. Emma pays a Euro and searches him up and down to figure out the trick until a bum drunkenly imposes on us. It’s a good laugh, though.
We walk home past Trevi fountain. The kids and I were here yesterday, but Trish was at the spa. It’s one of her favorite spots in Rome, so we brave the packed crowds and look for a spot to hang for a few minutes. “Come on kids! Let’s take the back way.” The girls and I had spotted a back-way that you can climb down the rear of the statue to the water’s edge.
The three of us hop the fence and scamble down, but Trish hesitates. And the police see her. TWEEET! goes the whistle. Trish is busted with one leg over the side by the uniformed cop and sent the long way around the stairs through the throngs of people. He’s pretty cute and she doesn’t seem to mind being chastised.
We take a few pictures at the fountain. It’s hard to explain why Trevi fountain seems so beautiful or fitting, but it’s quintessentially Rome.
Our food-fail continues into dinner. The waiter gets pissy at us when we complain that the “pasta with butter” we ordered came with parmesan. We were nice about it, but it seems the boss got mad at him. The rest of the meal he ‘forgets’ things we order and takes forever. I have to go to the manager to get the check after 30 minutes of waiting. It’s frustrating after an exhausting day, but everyone keeps it together and sleep comes easily.