We booked a few group tours during our trip, the first being 'The Imperial Rome Tour'. We were scheduled for a 1:30pm pick-up outside of our hotel. We waited until 1:40pm and then we started to get a little nervous because the tour was scheduled to begin at 2pm.
'Maybe they forgot about us', I said.
Inside at the front desk of our hotel, we were told that we could walk to the tour office in about 15 minutes - so we did - with five minutes to spare until the bus was supposed to leave!! We checked into the office, and the woman behind the counter looked at us like were the dumbest people on earth.
In her heavy Italian accent - 'He was just at the hotel!! Why you no wait?'
The funny thing is, when the pick-up van arrived with the other passengers, we all ended up waiting outside the tour office until 2:20pm when they finally let us board the bus.
Oh well, we all got situated and the tour began with a drive through Rome towards the Colosseum.
When we arrived and stepped off the bus, the first site to greet us was the Arch of Constantine built in the year 312 AD!!
Ahhhh - The Colosseo!! Finally we had found it!!
Below is the view inside the Colosseum, above the entrance where the gladiators would emerge into the arena. Our tour guide told us that only half of the arena floor remains covered so that you can see the multiple levels and numerous tunnels underneath where the animals were housed and the gladiators would prepare for battle.
Hundreds of years ago, when the floor was completely enclosed, the entire surface was covered with fresh sand each night to soak up the blood of the wounded and dying. Gladiators would fight each other, however, they would also fight lions, elephants, giraffes and other exotic animals imported from Africa and Asia.
At the bottom right of this photo, you can see the only remaining section of original marble stadium seating.
When we had arrived at the Colosseum, our guide pulled out a flag attached to the top of an old antenna. At first, I thought 'What the heck?' but as I continually stopped to take photos, and constantly got separated from the group, the necessity of the flag quickly made sense.
I love candid photos of people. I'll often 'shoot from the hip' (keep the camera down instead of holding it up to my face) because people can be so self conscious when a camera is aimed at them. Shooting from the hip means people remain comfortable and I get great shots like this:
The view of the Arch of Constantine from inside the Colosseo.
The tour of the Colosseum went by so quickly, and we were both so impressed and enthralled with the enormity and gravity of the history contained in one space, Sean and I both agreed that we would return to the Colosseum for a second visit so we could take our time and soak it all in.
Shot of an old lady, on the way to the church of San Pietro in Vincoli - Saint Peter in Chains - part two of our Imperial Rome Tour.
We crossed over an old bridge to get to the church.
The church of Saint Peter in Chains is completely unassuming from the outside - it doesn't even look like a church - more like a small stucco government building - yet inside it holds one of the High Renaissance's finest works - Michelangelo's sculpture of Moses.
After we left San Pietro in Vincoli, our group got back on the bus and we drove to the Vittorio Monument, for the third and last part of our tour.
There are two flights of steps behind the Vittorio - one set is very steep and leads to a church which I just learned is called Santa Maria in Aracoeli (I shot the 2 second extended night shot from the top of those steps in 'Rome ~ Part One').
Here is the point of describing all of this to you.
Behind the Capitoline Museums is THIS stunning view of the Roman Forum, where many of the oldest and most important ancient Roman structures are housed. We were lucky enough to be there just as the sun was beginning to set.
Along the skyline, on the right, to the left of the tower in the distance, you can see the Colosseum.
And THAT was the end of the Imperial Rome Tour. Our group dispersed and we were left downtown to do as we pleased. And so once again we walked and walked and walked.
Carrying a full frame DSLR with a huge, heavy lens on the front can get wearisome after a few hours and so there were many points when I would pop it into our daypack and make Sean carry it!! Here and there I would grab it from the pack when I saw shots I couldn't resist - like the Pantheon Fountain located in the Piazza Navona.
I love how the lion's paw is positioned to balance him as he leans down for a drink.
At the opposite end of the Piazza was a group of street performers playing live music with interpretative dance.
Street curtains - can we get some of these in Halifax?
On the way back to the hotel after a long day.
Holy cow - I can't believe I'm only at the end of our second day in Europe!!
The best is yet to come...