End of Day 2, Day 3
Around 5 on the evening of day 2, I decided to walk around the capitol area, since I hadnt yet seen it. It wasnt a far walk from my hostel, about 20 minutes, so I chose to walk along the same road I had taken to the Colosseum. The Capitol building itself was much larger than anything I had expected. It was also completely white, which made it stick out against the reds and browns of the other buildings. All around the capitol were large ruins complete with scattered columns and foundations. I walked around the capitol and went up the hill to the Piazza Campodoglio, a piazza designed by Michelangelo. From here, you get a good view of the different ruins, and can also see the Senate buildings surrounding you. I was able to see the old treasury building foundations as well as several temples and what is left of the Mamertine prison, which housed Saint Paul and St Peter before they were killed. I walked back down the hill and ran into Trajans market, which was built some time around 100 or 200 AD for the distribution of corn rations and just to serve as a market. Compared with many of the other old structures, it was still extremely well preserved, or I guess possibly rebuilt. From there, I walked down the road to get on the Metro. Romes metro, I have found, is extremely crowded at all hours of the day. This is probably because there are only 2 metro lines, whereas Paris has 13. But, I guess it is just too difficult to dig a new metro line and risk destroying some important ruins. I rode the crowded metro back to my hostel for the night.
The next morning, Sunday, I woke up later than usual. I knew that almost all big tourist things in Rome were closed on Sunday, so I decided to follow one of Rick Steves recommended locations, Ostia Antica. It is around 30 minutes outside of Rome by train, and was an old port city. However, eventually new port cities gained importance over Ostia and it became obsolete. Further, the Tiber river eventually changed its course, making Ostia even less important. Now, Ostia is a very well preserved city, due to the silt from the nearby Tiber river that covered it for many years. On my way to Ostia, I met a very nice English couple, Rob and Lynn, who were also heading to the same place. So, I ended up spending the whole day with them, enjoying speaking English and not having to travel by myself. When I arrived at the Ostia train station, I was struck by how out there and small the town was. It was interesting to get my first real look at Italian housing and vegetation on the way to the site. It was a short walk to the gate, and we quickly noticed how few tourists there were. Whether this was due to the obscurity of the location or the fact that it was a Sunday, we didnt know. The town itself was amazing, and was much more than I had expected. Tourists are just allowed to roam freely over huge areas of old ruins, including floor mosaics, statues, and old arches. We saw old Roman baths, apartment buildings, amphitheatres, and a forum. We were struck by how unguarded everything was. If I had taken a backpack with me, I could have easily taken several slabs of marble, which were lying around everywhere. It was great to see the ruins with so few tourists around. We went literally for twenty minutes at one point without seeing another person, just wandering around among the amazing ruins and mosaics. To top everything off, the weather was sunny almost the whole day, and it was fairly warm. We took a break to have a snack in a cafe, and then looked around some more. It never got boring, because there was so much to see there. When we finished there, we got back on the train and headed back into Rome. Rob and Lynn then treated me to a drink at a bar within sight of the Colosseum, and then to a nice dinner nearby. They were extremely nice, and definitely made my day much more enjoyable. If I had been by myself, I probably would have rushed through the sight in only a couple of hours, but since I could talk to other people it forced me to slow down and enjoy it more. I came back from dinner and went to bed fairly soon.