One would figure Monday would be an off day for tourists.
The fun folks at Perillo Tours “Leading groups, holding up little flags since 1945” weren’t going to waste a day. We, of course, slept in until about 11am. That’s 5am Eastern…2am West Coast.
We did a horse-drawn drive-by of the Coliseum Saturday and figured that the crowds would be lighter because it was early in the week and it was cloudy…with a chance of meatballs.
I wanted to say that all week.
When we arrived at “Old Town”, as it is seldom called, we discovered to our chagrin that:
1. The place looked like an anthill
2. Amy forgot the battery for her camera.
The camera thing was taken in stride. The crowd thing? Interesting. I’m a little confused why someone would bring a baby stroller to ancient ruins. Imperial Rome wasn’t exactly as enlightened as us about universal access.
I’ve seen shorter lines for tickets to a Rolling Stone concert. At the end of the line there was a sign that said “Wait time from this point XCVIII minutes”.
About that time a scruffy looking character in an Oingo Boingo t-shirt sidled up to me and said, “Hey Dude….looking to skip the line? I got connections”. After quickly checking my pockets for my wallet, phone, car keys and the tangerine Amy insisted I take from breakfast I asked “Uhhh…maybe. Quanti soldi?” Which is Italian for “I only have one eldest son and he’s being held as deposit on the hotel room”
”No, Dude this is totally real. Take the tour and you get to skip the line!” Since he was speaking perfect Colloquial Surf Dialect I trusted him completely. I asked, “Are you from Redondo?”
”No man, Romania.”
There are two types of Italian women, the curvy Sophia Loren type wearing 5 inch heels or the skinny Milan model type with a barbed wire tattoo, wearing 5 inch heels. Our tour guide was the skinny type…leading us through the 1800 year old ruins in spike heels.
Being a bit of a history buff and an early subscriber to the Discovery Channel I didn’t learn too much new about the Coliseum. However all the gladiator movies I’ve seen (including the ones where they keep their clothes on) got a couple of things wrong. The women had to sit in the top row separate from the men and the early Christians were not killed in the Coliseum…they were killed in the Circus Maximus. It held more people.
Amy remembered that on her first trip to Rome in 2001 there were a lot of guys dressed up as gladiators around the Coliseum you could have your picture taken with. They were all young, buffed out, wanna be actors or bodybuilders.
They are still there today…in fact it appeared to be the same guys…15 years later. Looks like they closed the Gladiator Gym.
Back in the bad old disco days I worked on a cruise ship. I learned early on that in the tourist cab world it will cost way more to get back from somewhere than to get there. We got a cab to the mall…OK the Forum…and it cost 9.65 on the meter. With the clouds closing in we looked for a return ride. The first guy said it was a flat fare…23 Euros. Amy jumped into her best “Hey Buddy, I’m an experienced world traveler” mode and waved him off. The next guy tried to undercut him and quoted 18. Amy gave him that steely eyed stare and we moved a little further away. Half way down the block we grabbed a cab he said “Oh itsa 15 or 18…” Using my best Darth Vader voice I said “HOLD IT. Is it 15 or 18?”, while reaching for the door handle.
“OK, OK, it’s 15”
Guess who’s credit card meter was “broken”? And guess who didn’t have change for a 20? And guess who finally scrounged the change in coins and still over-charged one euro?
Next time I’m bringing my own horse.
We returned to the Spanish Steps area for dinner.
We shared a Caprese Salad
And attempted another selfie…
One day left on our Roman Holiday…