28 Feb 2013

Rome Half Day Walking Tour

You can't go to Rome and not (literally) see the Collosseo. It's in the heart of the city and it's not only until you see it with your own eyes do you realise the size and magnitude of this structure. I recall someone once warned me 'In Rome you will really feel the term "high tourist spot."' The whole city is very busy with tourist and locals especially the Colosseum. I strongly, strongly, strongly, suggest booking a tour group in advance to avoid the long queues for this place. I was so surprised how long the lines were for the general admission area and personally, wouldn't want to be disappointed wasting my holiday time queuing. There are also tour companies that scout the queues to see if people would like to join their tours and I've had friends who taken this option and weren't disappointed. 

We booked a walking half day tour with Viator and it cost us 30E per person. The tour we selected not only took us to the Colosseum but through Palatine Hill, Trevi Fountain, Panthelon and Piazza Navona, which was great however meant we were doing more walking between sites then enjoying the sites itself. 

We meet the tour group close by the Colosseum. Once everyone arrived and checked in we by passed the massive queues and entered the Colosseum. We walked up to the upper level, probably walked 1/4 of the area then walked down to the lower level then exited the Colosseum. Don't get me wrong the tour guide provided a lot of history and facts about the Colosseum and the city itself and no I don't think I would have wanted to spend hours in there either but I would have liked to have walked a loop around and had the opportunity to take photos of the other levels. 

After we exited the Colosseum we walked over to Palatine Hill which contains many ruins of ancient Rome. They are constantly refurbishing and digging up artifacts. Something I learnt during the tour, ancient Rome is literally buried underneath itself. Whenever the city wanted to rebuild it would literally bury the old and build over it. It's prevent throughout the city. There would be rock cliff sides where there seems to be layers of different material and parts sticking out and you wonder why, its because its probably some artifact. There's so much history literally under your feet and the leaders of the city doesn't know where to start but ironically can't due to the infrastructure that now sits on top of it. 

After walking through Palatine Hill we walked about 2km to the Trevi Fountain. Once we reached the fountain we were given 10 minutes free time. By this time (lunch time) area was packed and very mindful of pick pocketers and dodgy people trying to sell you something.

One "trick" I was told to avoid was agreeing to let someone take a photo of you (and your partner or group) for you. I was told this trick is used by scammers to get money off you once they've taken the photo. This was my constant fear that whenever someone, usually another tourist asked me if I could take a photo of them, I turned and ignored these people. 

Note: to ensure a return to the city again one day one must hold a coin on their right hand and thrown over their the left shoulder. 

They believe roughly 3,000E is thrown into the fountain daily and coins are collected regularly and donated to charities or to fund the maintenance of the site. 

From here we walked over to the Pantheon and entered the temple. Inside we learned more history and facts about the building. Anyone can enter into the Pantheon, anytime and it's free.

Afterwards we headed over to the Piazza Navona. This place is really pretty, surrounded by lots of restaurants, a little market perfect spot for people watching. When you look around the place looks very familiar, that's because they Piazza layout has been duplicated by The Venetian Casino chain.  

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