Rome wasn’t built in a day, but we were able to see many of its highlights in one 10 ½ hour day on Viking Cruise Line‘s optional excursion Highlights of Rome and the Coliseum during our Mediterranean Odyssey cruise in the autumn of 2022.
The excursion included a detailed guided tour of the Coliseum as well as numerous photo stops and other commentaries as we traveled the city by foot and bus. Our cruise ship the Viking Jupiter docked in Rome’s port Civitavecchia, The port is normally a 11/2 hour drive from Rome, but a driving rain storm and heavy traffic increased the transit time to our initial stop at The Coliseum.
Our guide shepherded our tour group through the Coliseum in the rain as she reviewed its history and details. As one of Rome’s most popular attractions, there is always a long wait to enter.
Viking arranged a time sensitive reservation for entry and we quickly passed through the guarded entrance. The Coliseum with a seating capacity of 50,000 to 80,000 is the largest ancient amphitheater ever built. Its construction began in 70 A.D, during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. His motivation was to build a structure to entertain, give back to the people, and control them.
The Coliseum, known as one of the new seven wonders of the world, constructed from limestone, volcanic rock, and speciality concrete was an engineering marvel for the times. It even had a retractable roof, running water and toilets. Our guide pointed out the Roman numerals etched on the entrance ways that marked the seating section number
The Coliseum is best known for holding gladiator fights. But it also housed public executions, simulated naval battles, and wild animal hunts. Facilities were designed to effectually store and transport the various wild animals to the coliseum floor. Our guide’s informative narration enhanced our experience at this popular tourist attraction.
Driving around Rome is like traveling through a museum. We drove past a cemetery containing a pyramid and were told that a Roman general who had fought in Egypt was buried there. There are numerous Egyptian obelisks in town and five of them are documented originals. The Romans brought them to Rome to illustrate their power over Egypt. The Romans loved their baths and slaves were used to heat the water for the baths.
We walked to the Spanish Steps which were constructed in 1725, and named for the many Spanish who lived in the area. The Steps, which were remodeled in 2011, have been a meeting point for artists and were included in a well known scene in the 1963 movie Roman Holiday.
After lunch at the Grill and Wine Restaurant we were thankful that the rain had stopped as we continued our walk to the Trevi Fountain. It is one of the most famous fountains in the world and is featured in several movies.
There is a myth which originated in the move “Three Coins in The Fountain”. It is said that if you throw one coin into the fountain, you will return to Rome. If you throw two, you will fall in love with an attractive italian. And if you toss three coins into the fountain, you will marry the person that you met.
On our way back to our bus we were able visit the Pantheon. The building is impressive. It was originally a Roman temple, but is now a church. It has a series of arches, but its most impressive feature is its open air dome. The circular dome allows sun reflections throughout the day resulting in interesting patterns.
We reboarded our bus and drove by St. Peter’s Square. We were impressed by its immensity. Our group returned to the Viking Jupiter satisfied that despite the rain we had seen nearly all the well known features of Rome. Thanks to our Viking guide it was quite a day.
Article by Burt Davis and Dianne Davis