I woke up after sleeping right next to the illuminating Colosseum feeling nice and refreshed, ready to head out into the city. At first, I simply walked through the city for a while.
The Palatine Hill, which is one of 7 hills of Rome upon which a ruin lies, in the background, plus the Circus Maximus, the ancient Roman chariot racing track, in the foreground.
A very well-preserved Roman bust from a museum within the Palatine Hill ruins
After checking out other things other than the Colosseum, the ancient arena was calling to me, so I circled back and entered.
I imagined I could feel the energy by just standing there. Just imagine 80,000 people all crammed in there, all watching a few gladiators fighting for their lives. I had this weird feeling that one could still feel the energy and desperation that must have saturated the Colosseum in that time.
Fun fact: a vomitorium is not where people would gather to expel their food after eating in order to make room for more food (as it is popularly believed to be), but it comes from the latin word “vomō,” which simply means, “to spew forth.” As such, a vomitorium is actually just the entrance/passageway where people would enter and exit amphitheaters, stadiums, and the Colosseum, just like how we enter and leave modern day stadiums.
Fun story while I was in the Colosseum: you are apparently not allowed to bring backpacks in, but I had nowhere to store mine so I just walked through the entrance with it anyways. While I was inside taking pics, a police officer approached me and said something like “Hey, you!” I thought that I was going to get stopped and potentially kicked out because of my backpack as he approached me. The thing was, since I was taking pictures, my arms were up, exposing my forearm and the tattoo on it.
So the police office gets to me, and he asks me, “is that a Pokemon on your arm?”
Considering that he was a good few meters away from me, and the orientation of my arm means that the tattoo was upside down, so I was surprised not only that he recognized it, but also for the reason that that was why he was approaching me. I laughed about it and showed him my arm. He called me crazy or something and walked away laughing himself.
I had another, more endearing shot of me, but I thought this one was funny because you could see my rolled up cardboard on the side of my backpack which I was using to lay on to keep the ground from freezing me at night while I slept. You can also see my “beat-stick” that I found in Venice on the first night. I figured if worse came to worse and some people decided to mess with me while I was sleeping, I would like some sort of item I could quickly grab and use to fend them off. I luckily never even came close to feeling like I would have needed to use it, but it was comforting to have it with me, just in case.
After spending a while at the Colosseum, just soaking up the energy and taking in the enormity of everything, I left to explore more of Rome.
I don’t have any pictures from this evening unfortunately, but I went out to meet up with a couchsurfer that I had previously contacted, and while he couldn’t host me, he was willing to meet up and show me around. So we met at some predetermined place and time and went out for the evening. I remember that we met up with his friends in some more hipster area of the city and had some beers. We then went to some club in a basement. It was actually pretty cool as it was kind of 50s swing music, and then there was some sort of burlesque show at the end. We left, and the couchsurfer drove me back to my hostel, but I didn’t have a hostel. So I told him my hostel was basically right next to the Colosseum, which he drove me to. He said he would gladly drive me to the front door, but I didn’t want to tell him that I didn’t actually have a place because that would have made it awkward and put him on the spot to host me at the last minute anyways. So I told him that my hostel was just up a side street, and I would just walk from the intersection we were stopped at, and he luckily didn’t argue so I jumped out and grabbed my backpack (which I had previously stored in his car before going out for the evening). I then went to the park to get to my normal sleeping spot but the park was closed since it had to have been around three in the morning. Determined to get to where I knew I could sleep, though, I simply climbed the fence and jumped into the park where I got to my spot and took another picture of the inspiring Colosseum before passing out.
I woke up a mere few hours later as the sun was just starting its trek across the sky for the day to a boot nudging me in the side. I woke up to find 3 or 4 police officers and someone in a suit (I assume something akin to a detective) all glaring down at me. I sat up and they started addressing me in Italian. I told them that I didn’t really speak Italian very well, and the guy in the suit switched to English, asking where I was from. I told them the USA, and he demanded to see my passport. I handed it over and after brief inspection, he handed it back, informing me that there is (a presidential?) parade that day, and I couldn’t be sleeping in the park. I told them I would leave, that I was just taking a quick nap in the morning, and would vacate the premises. They told me to do so, so I turned around and rolled up my cardboard, belying my tale of just taking a nap, and hastily shoved it into my backpack. I was kind of stressed, but it could have gone much worse.
After watching the parade for a bit, I kept walking around and stumbled upon the Castel Sant’Angelo, which I unfortunately did not enter.
I poked my head inside St. Peter’s Basilica. I had to wait in line for quite a while just to get to this point, and if I wanted to continue I would have had to pay more money, and I am just kind of against paying churches to enter them, so I didn’t. I was later told that the inside, apart from a couple famous paintings, isn’t really worth it. So whatever I guess.
I then went to the Leonardo da Vinci museum, which had a lot of constructions he had documented.
And by then it was evening. I went back to my park, slept in my spot and took this last photo of the Colosseum at night.
My backpack as a pillow with the “beat stick” easily accessible (you can see it poking from the right side of my backpack) as I lay on the cardboard. I had my jacket with me and would just use that as my “blanket.”
I then made my way to the airport, where I caught up with my friend, which I tried more than ever to keep a safe distance from so they wouldn’t smell my aroma.
I think it had been 11 days that I had gone without a shower, so the first thing I did when I got back was to do so and relax after a long, restless, and stinky vacation.