It’s a strange and almost incomprehensible feeling when you see something up close and personal that you’ve only seen on TV or read about in your textbooks. I’ve experienced it a few times in my life: Once in Paris, when I saw the Eiffel Tower, and once in Beijing, when I stood on the Great Wall of China. It happened again this time as I gaped at the Colosseum, one of the most iconic landmarks in all of Europe.
The first thought that came to my mind was, “Is this really the Colosseum? Or am I just dreaming?”
The truth was, yes, it really was the Colosseum, and no, I wasn’t dreaming. I remember learning about this 2,000-year-old stadium through my high school textbooks and seeing it as the backdrop for renowned movies like “Gladiator.” So how was it possible that I was standing in the middle of Rome, looking up at one of the most learned about and talked about monuments in history? Just like that. I had to pinch myself and snap back into reality.
Our group followed Cinzia to the Colosseum’s main entrance, where she gave us about an hour to wander through the interior of the stadium.
Once getting through security, we had two options on getting to the second floor of the stadium to get some of the best views: either climbing some of the steepest stairs I’ve seen or catching the elevator. I opted for the first choice because, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.
The interior of the stadium was exactly how I remembered seeing it in movies but better.
The most surreal part of it all was comprehending how it was possible that I could be standing on grounds that gladiators and spectators have walked on thousands of years ago? Mind. Blown.
Making a wish at the Trevi Fountain
As the sun set, we continued our day’s worth of activities in Rome with a trip to the Trevi Fountain and an evening walk to see some of the city’s most famous piazzas and monuments.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain and making a wish had always been on my bucket list. And here I was, about to check another one off the list.
We got to the fountain a little after the sun set, and despite the massive crowds surrounding the fountain, there was something so magical about being there at night. It was another surreal, “wait am I really here?” moment for me.
It seems there are a few discrepancies with the stories behind how many coins you should toss into the fountain. But according to Cinzia, throwing one coin ensures your return to Rome, two means you’ll get married and three means you’ll get divorced (although, I’m not sure if she was kidding about the last one).
I closed my eyes and tossed my coins into the fountain. I’m hopeful that someday my wish will come true.
Then, after grabbing a scoop of gelato from a nearby shop, we followed Cinzia to look at some of the most recognizable piazzas and buildings, including the Pantheon, which was fascinating in its own right, especially with its giant dome featuring an oculus. It must be quite a sight to see both when the sun moves over the oculus or when the rain falls.
We ended our evening stroll at the Piazza Navona, the square that features three Baroque fountains, including the Four Rivers Fountain that shows an Egyptian-style obelisk surrounded by four handsome-looking gods representing the four quarters of the known world.
The night was capped off with dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant called 4 Fiumi, where I ordered a simple ravioli dish and some Pinot Grigio.
It was the best feeling to dine outside under a vibrant full moon amid lively Italian music by street performers. What could get more Italian than that?