Waking up early feels good when you have the freedom to make the choice to wake up late. I wake up early because it can give me plenty of time to get ready, have a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and head out to a bright, sunny, cheerful morning. But neither museums nor shops are open before 10 am. Mostly. So that gives me time to take a stroll on streets which are considerably less crowded that early. When it’s evening and throngs of people are on popular streets, strolling isn’t as much fun. Especially not when it’s raining, which it eventually did that night. Not fun. I may have almost taken out an eye or two with my umbrella as I strode down Via del Corso, trying to get to a quieter space.
During the day, the Roma Pass allowed me to skip the long lines when revisiting the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Those open as early as 8:30 am. The Pass also gave me three days of unlimited travel in the city’s subway and buses, but I walked everywhere, so I didn’t use that. But I used it for the Capitoline Museum and for a discount on the Baths of Caracalla which I really wanted to see.
They were amazing. I was surprised by how huge the structures were, how large an area they covered, and the mosaic floors! Real mosaic covered the floors of the giant public baths. How painstakingly they must have been placed. They didn’t do a half-hearted job at anything. There once were statues within that building and different rooms for cold baths, warm baths and hot baths. Baths created for the public, for the people of Rome. Just like the baths in Pompeii–which were built 2000 years ago!–these baths were centrally heated. Central heating in those times! Can you imagine that?! It surprises me, really, to know what they were capable of all those centuries and, in the case of Pompeii, millenia ago.
After visiting the Capitoline Museum I stopped at the top of the steps leading up to it from Piazza Venezia and looked at the blue sky. There were clouds floating about here and there, but, my goodness, it was a gorgeous sky. I wondered why it’s so much more noticeable here. Is it because being on vacation makes everything more beautiful? Or is it because we don’t take the time or have the time to look up for a moment and enjoy that beauty? There are lots of tall buildings in big metropolitan cities, yes, but what about when we’re in suburbs with not-so-tall houses around? Or when we’re driving through open fields? Do we just not notice it? I stood there, taking it in, sighing, inaudibly exclaiming at the sight. Not the man-made ones this time.