Prior to dinner, we bade goodbye to Maria and Felipe, our Tuscany Airbnb hosts, and got ready to leave for Rome. Our dirty car got hosed off and and we rode it next morning to Chiusi where it got returned to Hertz located next to the train station from which we boarded the train to Rome. How convenient! We bought full insurance for the rental car and as luck would have it, our car’s rear window got busted in the rough “bianca” roads of Tuscany. We were apprehensive at the return desk so showed up as the first customer but luckily, received a quick check-out.
Nearby, at a cafe, we received our caffeine fix then an outdoor market provided last- minute diversions and snacks for our train ride. Colorful fruit vendor cracked jokes at us tourists. We bantered back in broken Italian and dashed back to the station.
The 2h30m ride to Rome was uneventful. Roma Termini was organized C.H.A.O.S. and the streets surrounding the station were equally maniacal. We headed out wrong way then recalculated the direction toward our Airbnb. It was hot and our room was not ready but we could wait inside where the AC provided coolness from midday sun. Then it was time for some of us to go to our Coliseum tour. In our last visit to Rome, our coliseum tour was cancelled due to “sciopero”. We vowed to return and do the third floor and underground tour. TA provided helps to procure hard to get tickets which are released only certain time of the month. In 2017 the fourth floor is newly opened and we got grandfathered and got the opportunity to see it without extra fee.
Of course it was a deservingly grand attraction that must be seen in person. The tour is a must-do to gain historical insights to the site. Lots of climbing and was hard on old knees but the architecture was incredible. Some had difficulty climbing the multi of stairs, but 2 gentlemen from Canada kindly offered assistance. The underground belly of the coliseum is very compartmentalized. Mere wooden ceiling separated it from the thundering ground floor where battle of man and beast occurred. One can hardly imagine the anxiety in the participants below as the noisy mayhem happened higher up.
We got lost on the way back as the evening darkens, and time shortage made us quickly plan for dinner and surprisingly enjoyed THE best fried rice at a Chinese next door to our Airbnb. So good we ordered 5 plates–different version fried rice. Don’t judge!
ROME October 17
Woke up 4am to escort Our Main Chauffeur to Termini for trip to the airport. Taxi was €42 so Leonardo Express won out. Sidewalk were deserted until closer to the station. Train station were not deserted! Friendly man chatted with us but our guard were up and eventually he just walked away. We bid adieu then beelined toward Trevi Fountain for the rare witness of…no crowds.
The lone guard in his patrol car dashed our hope of frolicking in the fountain à la “La Dolce Vita”. We tossed a hopeful coin then scurried toward Piazza Navona enjoying hearing our footsteps walking predawn
With no people around, we can truly appreciate the beauty of the Rome and its grandeur.
Nearby vendors in Piazza Campo de’ Fiori were just started to set up and we weaved among the stalls of flowers and spices then slowly walking back to get ready for the airport and flying to Dubrovnik. The anticipation!