The second day in Rome started off with the Coliseum! Click on the photo above for a larger size.
The sheer scale and mass of the coliseum is imposing in person, a massive edifice of stone and masonry, with walls several feet in thickness.
It was amazing to realize that the stones underneath my feet and the bricks I leaned against were from almost two millennia ago.
Next stop was Palatine Hill, a site saturated with ruins from the Bronze ages to the Roman Empire. During the Roman Republic, the affluent and noble families of Rome located their estates on the hills.
It's a huge complex and the ticket is only one-time entrance. Bring a bottle of water and you can refill with spring water at fountain locations. Fountains with clean drinking water are scattered throughout the city of Rome. Also bring along a light snack as there are no food vendors inside.
I didn't take pictures of all the ruins but there is an impressive variety of left-over structures in layers from underneath the ground to the very top of the hill. It was like a mini adventure ducking and weaving through the arched passage ways below.
Rome can be very hot during the daytime under the sun. Palatine Hills are best visited either first thing in the morning or a little later in the afternoon. Also for those people who like taking pictures, Rome doesn't start to develop nice looking clouds until the afternoon.
You can see the remains of Circus Maximus and on-going excavation work from the ruins of the bath built by Septimius Severus.
You can get a great view of the the coliseum and other landmarks from the top of Palatine Hill. You'll find yourself in the Roman Forum once you've passed the arch of Septimius Severus.
The photo above ranks among my favourites for this trip.
The Altare della Patria is just a few steps away from the exit near the Forum. We had a quick pasta lunch at a small cafe nearby. No pictures as we were all starving by that point, having entered Palatine Hill in the morning and not leaving until well past noon.
I bought a treat from a refreshment cart near Trajan's Column.
Found some tourists taking an interesting mode of transportation to see the sights of Rome. Also I took a picture of a horse's butt. Not sure why... And two old policemen, one tiny and one larger.
As it was Good Friday, many of the tourist sites were closing early to prepare for the night's ceremonies. Roads were blocked off and armored vehicles with paramilitary police and emergency vehicles could be seen everywhere.
Eating in Rome consisted of lots of pasta and pizza. A short ways away from Palatine Hills, we found a nice little place with outdoor tables that served super thin and crispy pizzas. And since I was in the land of cured meats: prosciutto appetizer and more prosciutto on the pizza! The one in the background had anchovies.
After dinner we went back to the coliseum to check out the festivities, but didn't stay long. There was a humongous crowd of people there and more walking towards the coliseum every minute. We caught the live broadcast of the Stations of the Cross later that night at the hotel.