Tuesday 2 December.
The rain continued through the night and it was still pouring down when we went down for another lovely breakfast. Afterwards we went to a lounge where we sat at a table and wrote out postcards we wanted to send. They were all to people we had had encountered on the Via Francigena mostly at the gites and hostels along the way. Ones like Sister Lucy at Wisques, the two Sisters at the convent next to the prison at Clairwaux, the Mayor in Oriolitta in Italy and Madame Grenier, Mayoress in the French village of Franse-le-Chateau, the gite in Seveux with Roger and Nellie and their two little boys who helped with translations and computers, and the woman at the equestrian centre at Vermanc who had a collection of postcards from quests who had made it to Rome. Once we had finished we got into our rain gear to brave the elements but once we got out the rain had eased and some blue was beginning to show in the sky. It turned out to be the start of another lovely day.
We took the Metro to Termini. This is the main railway station and where we catch a train tomorrow to take us to the airport. We checked our where we go and how to get a ticket. Our book said that tickets can be obtained from the tobacconist's kiosk a few Euros cheaper but it wasn't the case, they were €14 wherever you bought them. We left the station and headed for Via Cavour which led to the Colosseum and saw an Indian restaurant on the way and tried to work out how we could get to it tonight for dinner. On the way down Cavour we passed a large church and tall pointed column in front on the Piazza Esquilino; Santa Maria Maggiore. It was another beautiful building but it was closed and couldn't see inside. Near the end of Cavour we had to turn left to get to the Colosseum and I expected the usual maze of narrow lanes and dead ends before we found a route there but this time as we turned the corner there were the walls of the huge amphitheatre ahead of us. As we walked along a car stopped and asked me for directions !! Funnily enough I managed to help having studied the map of the area sufficiently enough.
At the end of the street there was an overhead walkway where people were busy taking photographs from this vantage point, we joined them and the view was outstanding except for more renovations taking place on a large section of the walls which were covered in scaffolding and tarpaulins. Down to the right was a large square dominated by a stone arch, the Arch of Constantine. We went down to the square and made our way through people selling extendable rods to attach your camera for taking 'selfies', the latest quirk. It cost €24 to get into the Colosseum, there wasn't a concession for OAP's like us, even though the book said there was. Anyway it was worth it and we spent over an hour wandering round the perimeter of this Roman stadium for gladiator sports. First it was at ground level then we climb half way up to a route that made its way round again. It was crowded with tourists and we had to thread our way round them as they stopped to pose and take each other's photographs with the old structure as a backdrop. It was a marvellous spectacle and the underground tunnels and walkways in the central arena were exposed; these would have been covered in wooden flooring for the games, though sometimes they were removed and the bottom filled with water for mock naval battles. There were information boards telling the history of the building through the centuries and displays of relics and artefacts found during archeological work.
From the Colosseum we walked passed the Arch of Constantine up the Palatine Hill to the Roman Forum but his was another expensive place to enter. Instead we continued up the hill and got a view of the place from there, a large park with paths and pillars. Coming down again we saw the Colosseum now from a different angle through pillars in the Forum and stopped for a photograph. When we reached the bottom it was time for lunch and we decided to head back to the Indian restaurant at Termini for a curry.
It didn't take long to get back now we knew the way and were soon sitting down for lunch. It was just a small cafe cum restaurant but very popular and busy. Our order was a mutton curry, a chicken curry, one portion of rice and two naan breads. It was one of the best Indian meals we have had in a restaurant outside India. The taste and level of curry was just right and there was plenty of meat. The naan was piping got, straight from the oven and just right for mopping up the rich curry sauce. We were well satisfied and it cost a reasonable €17.
It was now 2 pm and we planned to start heading back via Piazza Venezia to the river. We thought it would be early when we got back to the hotel and could relax but it turned out to be a long way and starting to get dark when we did arrived there at nearly 5 pm. It was back down Via Cavour again then we cut across by Via Panisperna to the Piazza Venezia which was at the top end of the Roman Forum. Before arriving there was a smaller piazza with domed churches and the tall engraved Tore Imperiale.The engravings or frieze went all the round and round right to the top. In Pizza Venezia, designed by Michelangelo, were the wide steps going up to the Vittoriano with statues of charioteers and winged warriors and the National flags flying, here was the tomb of the unknown soldier.
Leaving the piazza we found our way successfully to the river though the street names didn't correspond with the map at times. It was a long walk but a beautiful one on the tree lined pavement above the Tiber. As we tramped along through the thick bed of leaves covering the pavement the views of the river and many bridges were outstanding giving sharp photographs in the late afternoon light as the sun began setting. When we reached the bridge over to the Castel San Angelo where we started our walk yesterday we were only halfway along the river to our destination, the Metro at the Piazza Popolo where we finished last night. It was a very pleasant stroll but now we were getting tired when we reached the bridge where the Metro line crossed the river to the station near the archway leading to the piazza. For some reason the Metro station was closed, we tried another entrance but it was also shut. Now we had to make our way back to the river and cross the bridge to the other side then make our way to the next station on the line at Lepanto. At first we were worried that the Metro might be stopped for some reason and would have to get a bus back but as we crossed the river a train passed on the line next to the road. Everything was all right at the next station and it wasn't long before we were back at our hotel room.
After such a wonderful lunch we weren't hungry and just had our what we normally have mid-day for our dinner; a sandwich and an apple. It had been another hard day on the city streets, we had been on our feet for over 6 hours, it is equivalent to what we were walking each day on the VF. We stretched out on the bed, listened to the radio and relaxed until bedtime. Tomorrow is the final stage of our adventure as we head back to Scotland. It has been a wonderful 3 months and the final few days sightseeing in Rome have been very enjoyable, a truly lovely city.