Sunday, February 1, 2015


Today we checked the Colloseum off our list of things you don't go to Italy and not see. I am really glad we got there early (20 min before it opened), because the line was absurd by the time we left. Coincidentally, all archaeological sites and national museums are free on the last Sunday of the month, so maybe it was particularly crazy because of that. Or maybe it's always a zoo.

The Colloseum certainly did not disappoint, but I'd say the best way to describe it was spot-on. It's one of those places that is so famous you can't not know what it's about or what it looks like before you arrive. It is certainly an impressive structure but the only real surprise for me was how deep the underground portion is.

We also toured the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, also impressive but the real highlight for me was seeing Livia's house. I'm reading a biography right now of Livia Drusilla, wife of Augustus Caesar. One of the houses at Palatine Hill was supposedly hers and is quite well-preserved (although not exactly photogenic). It's always nice to connect a specific bit of history (and a person) to some actually archaeology, especially over 2000 years!

The real highlight of our day was a visit to the baths of Caracalla. Our guidebook called these some of the most impressive ruins in Rome but other than that I did not know what to expect.

The guidebook did not lie. We were completely blown away by the scale of the baths and how much of the structure is still standing. They were built in about AD 200 and about 6000-8000 people used them per day when they were in use.

Best of all there was almost no one there. Another (free on first Sunday) off-the-beaten-path find!

Palatine Hill

Baths of Caracalla

Baths of Caracalla

Olympics sized swimming pool at the baths of Caracalla

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