We awakened to rain pouring on the roof this morning but by the time we were out of bed the sky was clearing to a gorgeous blue peppered with large, white, clouds. We took our time enjoying a relaxing morning and hit the pavement around 11 a.m., with the goal of walking to see the famous Colosseum. Along the way, we let ourselves be diverted by various sights that caught our eyes. Below are a sampling of those things:

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We stumbled across this site of four ancient Roman temples on our way to the Colosseum.

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Trajan’s Forum near the Colosseum

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Statue of Augustus Caesar with some forum ruins in the background

Finally we reached our destination and the Colosseum truly is an imposing structure. The crowds are tremendous with lines having wait-times up to 90 minutes just to get in. We were glad we had bought entrance tickets online and could go in a special, fast-moving line that had us inside the arena in about 10 minutes.

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The classic shot of the Colosseum juxtaposed with a tourist on a mobile device in the lower right

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This place is enormous, considering when it was constructed (70 AD).

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Our selfie, taken on the main floor of the Colosseum, shows what existed under the space’s wooden floor: a series of shafts, rooms, and cages for gladiators and wild animals. The Romans had built an elevator system that would lift gladiators and/or animals onto the main “stage” of the Colosseum directly from below.

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We didn’t know, until arriving in Rome, that the Colosseum is oval-shaped.

It is awe-inspiring to walk around the ¬†Colosseum and think about what took place here almost 2,000 years ago. For an advanced society the entertainment for the public could be incredibly violent and cruel. After taking it in for as long as we needed, we exited the structure and went to find a place for a late lunch/early dinner. We found a very good, small, and quaint tavern which had foods from the various regions of Italy on the menu. We had a delicious antipasto for a starter that had spicy salamis, sun-dried tomatoes with garlic and herbs, green olives, and a hot, spicy, salami paste on a piece of toast. It was some of the tastiest food we’ve had. For our mains, we each chose their lasagna which did not disappoint. Just look at all that cheesy goodness!

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Post-touring lunch: lasagna! It was very, very tasty … and was big enough to be our only meal today.

After our meal, we wandered our way back toward our neighborhood on the west bank of the Tiber River, but not before stopping at our favorite gelateria, Punto, to get some gelato to take home and have for dessert later.

Cribbage on the terrace

Cribbage on the terrace

We relaxed a while reading, working on the computer, etc. and, when it had cooled off a bit, went out on our terrace to play some cribbage. Besides being a beautiful spot to sit, the vibes of the neighborhood were stimulating our senses. Smells from the ristorantes down on the street were wafting up from below. We smelled garlic, tomato sauces, pizza, and lasagna. If we had been hungry, it would have been enough to draw us downstairs for another meal. Street performers were playing music for people eating at tables on the streets outside cafes. The accordion, guitar, and even a didgeridoo entertained them and us on our terrace. Sea gulls and swallows swooped and squawked as they glided among the rooftops. The setting sun glinted off neighboring windows and terraces. Local residents were opening their shutters and windows, looking out at us, choosing herbs from their terrace gardens, and getting ready to enjoy their own Friday night. ¬†We played into the darkening dusk, soaking up the sights, sounds, and smells, of our Trastevere neighborhood and trying to imprint it in our minds for good, so that we will always have these memories long after we’ve returned from our travels.