Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I hope that this will be an excellent way for me to keep all of my friends and family up to date on my semester abroad in Rome. Please feel free to post any comments you would like, or shoot me an e-mail and I will try to respond as soon as possible. Also, if you click on each of the photographs below, it will display them at their full size.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gladiator Scam Artists

Today was a very exciting day, we woke up and headed back to Campo Dei Fiori. It was kind of weird seeing it this morning because the entire square was full of vendors selling different kinds of fresh meat, fruits, vegetables and more, and two nights ago when we came out it was completely empty.

One vendor was selling fresh fish and had a whole swordfish propped up on one of his tables. When someone would buy some he would lay it down and slice off a portion and give it to them. Before it was cut up the whole fish was probably around 7 feet long.

We looked around at a few shops and met up with Monica's roommates. One of her roommates told us that she almost got her wallet stolen by an old woman with a blanket. The woman came up to her holding a large blanket and pushed the blanket up against her and started sticking her hand in her purse. Luckily her friend realized what was going on quickly enough to pull her purse away.

For lunch we went to a little walk-up pizza place back in Trastevere. I ended up getting a sausage and tomato pizza and Monica and half of her roommates picked out a pizza that they thought had pineapple on it. We stepped right outside of the pizza place and ate our pizza before heading out for the afternoon. Monica’s roommate Krista had eaten about ¾ of her slice of pizza and then said, “I don’t think this is pineapple on the pizza.” And Monica and one of her other roommates agreed and then figured out it was diced potatoes…kind of the same thing. My pizza was delicious Then we headed off to find the Coliseum.
We passed through Area Sacra again, this time during the day, and made an interesting discovery. A couple of posts ago I told you about some ruins that we found in the middle of the Area Sacra and posted a picture. Today we found out that these ruins were actually a cat sanctuary. We are not quite sure how it came to be this or why there were tons of cats just hanging around but it was one of the strangest things I had ever seen. At first glance it is really easy to miss most of the cats as they are just dispersed throughout the whole area. Then you look a little closer and see them everywhere. A very strange sight.

This is me outside the pizza place near our school.
This was just one of the many cats that inhabited these ruins.

This is the same shot of Area Sacra from the other night, we didn't see a single cat the other night.

After leaving the cat sanctuary we continued on our quest for the Coliseum. We were on a very busy road with huge buildings on either side of us as we headed down Via Plebiscito and then we were met with another unexpected surprise. As we emerged from between the buildings the Altare della Patria or "The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" appeared, towering in the distance. It was amazing, I don't even think that any of the photos I took can do it justice. After spending about 45 minutes taking the whole thing in and taking a ridiculous amount of pictures, we decided to continue on our quest to find the Coliseum. (Later we were kind of disappointed to find out that this monument was not centuries old like pretty much everything else in Rome. It was built in 1920.)

There was really no where to stand to take a picture that show the entire monument but I thought that this one did a great job of showing how massive it was.
This is me standing in front of the front gate.
Me at the top of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

This view gives you some idea of how big Rome actually is. Every direction you turn the city expands out into the distance. It was incredible.

We continued around the corner of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and could see the Coliseum in the distance. On the way there, there were these areas with preserved ruins that just expanded out in the distance. It looked like there were little walkways where you could go down there and walk through them, but I got a few pictures and wondered how long they had been there.

This is just one of the many shots that I took of the ruins. The colors may look a little weird, sorry.

More ruins on the road to the Coliseum. We didn't have time to figure out how to get to the paths that run through them but we are planning on going back and walking through.

We continued on our way and could see the Coliseum getting bigger and bigger as we came closer and closer. Finally we were there and it was amazing. It was getting late so we didn't spend a whole lot of time there but we did have a chance to get a few pictures. It is pretty amazing when you are actually there, thinking about the history of it and you can't help but think about all the movies that have scenes in the Coliseum. (Gladiator, Ben-Hur).

This is the first full view of the Coliseum that we got. It is pretty amazing seeing it in person. (also, an interesting note: I guess there was a massive cleaning effort for the Coliseum that occurred a few years back and the cleaning was never finished. From this shot you can clearly tell that the right side was polished clean while the left side was left untouched)

Another view a little closer to the Coliseum. You can still see the cleaning line in this shot too.

I decided to take this photo because when we were there looking at it, it seemed as though the top portion of the Coliseum was going to topple over to the outside.
We also checked out the Arch of Constantine from a distance. We didn't spend a whole lot of time at either because we know we will be back when our friends and family come to visit.

As we were walking around the Coliseum, there were these two guys dressed up like Roman Gladiators. They were walking around asking people if they wanted to get their pictures taken with them. Then I, being the bull-headed male that I am thought, "Hey, wouldn't that be cool to get a picture with a gladiator in front of the Coliseum." (Who wouldn't have thought that, right?) Anyway I give my camera to one of the people in our group and let them take the pictures (and I'm glad that I did because it was this move that foiled their plan). We proceed to take a few pictures in traditional gladiator poses and then afterwards the tall one approached me and told me that I owed him 10 euro. I was a little shocked and knew I only had a couple of coins in my pocket, so I told him I would give him a couple euro or what the coins amounted to. He was not to happy to hear this and told me to give him "paper money." After I insisted that I didn't have any three or four times (I keep my "paper money" in my backpack) he grabbed the coins out of my hand and left.

This is the first photo I took with the Gladiator scam artists.

They even pulled Monica in for a couple. Afterwards they tried to tell me that it the photos cost 5 euros apiece.

After he walked off we all realized what the scam was. There is two of them and they go around asking tourists if they would like to take their picture with them in front of the Coliseum. Dumb tourists like ourselves say, "Hey, why not?" So one of them takes the tourists' camera and the other one poses with the tourist for a couple of shots. After the photo taking is done, the gladiators demand that the tourist pay them some amount of money to give them their camera back, basically to buy your own camera back from them. So you either shell out however much they ask for the photos or you say goodbye to your nice new digital camera. (Luckily we did not give him our camera so they really had no leverage in demanding money from us). It made me wonder how much they normally ask for, as I can imagine many tourists would be willing to pay quite a bit more to make sure they actually get their camera back. Live and learn I guess.

After spending a little bit more time around the Coliseum, we headed back to Campo Dei Fiori for a little bit of shopping. The whole area was packed. We also found out that Italy has two nationwide sales a year, during which pretty much every retailer marks down all of their products from 20 to 80 %. The first sale is this week and the second I believe is sometime in July.

After a little bit of shopping we headed back to my apartment and had dinner with all of my roommates. We cooked pasta and chicken with marinara sauce and had a little bit of red wine with dinner.

This is us in my kitchen hanging out before dinner.

After dinner Monica and I headed back to Campo Dei Fiori in search of gelato. We passed many Gelaterias on the tram and they were all closed so we were hoping that the one in Campo was still open. It was and it was glorious. It was our first gelato experience and I must say that I was very impressed. We each got a couple of different kinds in our cup, one was very similar to chocolate chip and the other was some kind of chocolate and vanilla mix that was made with Nutella and we loved them both. It is going to be difficult not to eat gelato every day of the week because there are Gelaterias everywhere.

This is me outside the first Gelateria I visited in Rome. Did I mention that gelato is AMAZING! I love it.

This is me diving into the gelato. I got a chocolate chip flavor and a Nutella swirl flavor.


Keith, Tanya and Andrew said...

Adam, Thank you for all the AMAZING photos! Now I REALLY want to visit Italy. Maybe when Andrew's in college... :) Tanya

corley said...

I want Gelato!

Annika said...

Man I miss Rome and need to go back! Glad you're having a great time.

Anonymous said...

Same gladiators took 40 euros for few photos. First I didnt want o pay but hi told me that hi will give me my camera back when I give him money so I didn't know what to do, there are 3 of them I didn't want to fight or leave my camera.