After our very busy day surveying the ruins of Rome, we took a slower day to meander around the city – a day that it rained, so we mostly wandered between museums and cafes.
The day started by moving to our new AirBnB location, a wonderful back room rented from a German artist. We’d wanted to split our time in Rome between two places, because we weren’t sure whether one of them would be noisy or otherwise problematic, and didn’t want our whole stay to be ruined. This street was really cute, and there were a ton of nice restaurants and coffeeshops nearby. The front was a combined studio and gallery, but the back room was private and quiet.
Settled in, we left Trastevere. We hadn’t spent much time on the west bank of the main city, and during some wandering around, we found a peculiar ruin: the Teatro di Marcello. The cool thing about this building was that the bottom, Roman, layer, had a brick layer of apartments right on top. A neat place to rent.
Back in the main forum area, we got caught in some heavy rain and took shelter inside the huge Vittorio Emanuele II monument, which is also a WWI museum, and which has a cafe with great views on top.
When the rain let up, we went across the street to Trajan’s Market, a museum in a large multi-story complex of ruins reputed to be the world’s first shopping mall. To be honest, the museum was pretty lacking – the rooms incoherent, no clear plan. But the building was ancient, with dramatic views from the top.
Everything here is so close – churches, ruins, monuments. We saw Trajan’s Column (we’d walked past it a few times). I vividly remember learning about it in 7th grade history, but it’s a shame you can’t get close enough to get a good look at the reliefs.
Our final stop was way far out, past the Circus Maximus: the Baths of Caracalla. It was actually really late by the time we got there, and the baths were closed. But we could go around the walls, the most imposing Roman structure that we saw. The complex, built by the cruel emperor Caracalla around 200, was the second largest set of baths in Rome. They were so large that they took 6 years to build – requiring the transport of 2,000 tons of material for every single day of those 6 years. That’s impressive.
We got a bit lost at this point, in the pouring rain, but we made it back to our apartment. The next day, we’d visit what was, for me, the highlight of our trip: Ostia Antica.