Read Julies diary experience of the awe inspiring Coliseum in Rome! For Julies 3rd Wonder she travelled across the world to seek out the Coliseum in Rome, read as she writes about her tales of not only the Coliseum but Rome aswell in her diary.

At the end of each day’s entry there is a sensory diary which I completed as I was travelling around Europe. I used my four trusty guides, smell, hear, taste and touch, to enable me to explore all that Europe had to offer this blind woman!

Let it begin:

Friday 31 August, 2012

We started our epic journey from home to Rome leaving Dunedin airport at 12.45 pm having a toasted sandwich at the airport cafeteria. We joined Emirates airline at Christchurch then Sydney, Bangkok, Dubai! Crikey, how much longer? When will we be there? It was 9AM before we would leave Dubai and cope with the last six hour leg to Rome. The flight was delayed, however we were richly compensated by being upgraded to business class, and it was on the new A380!There is a first time for everything! I was able to play with the buttons on my lazy boy type seat and spend the whole six hours getting comfortable. Little bowls of nuts, roast lamb and a glass of champagne before we took off added to the delight!

Smell: someone sick on the plane
Hear: the seat belt on sign coming on
Taste: Aero plane food carrot cake
Touch: 32 degrees at Dubai at wait for it….5.35 am

Saturday the 1st of September and we arrived at Rome Airport to be met by a shuttle lady and we met Jody and Greg from Australia who it turned out were going on the cruise. After our first taste of Italian chaos we were herded to our shuttle bus and driven into Rome city. After dropping off people at various hotels, we were dropped off at Hotel Diana and finally reached our room on the third floor. Tired but restless we hit the streets to roam Rome for supplies.
With some help from English speaking passers-by we found a supermarket and bought water, bread, cheese, meats, chocolate hazel nut biscuits, and beer. I managed to persuade Ron that Italian chocolate biscuits were as essential as beer so my Roman experience was instantly being expanded. One taste of the anonymous meat was enough for me. Ron got to have his own way with the meat as I preferred to munch on the bread and cheese! Not to forget the chocolate biscuits!

A welcome shower after our food and we collapsed into bed with the prospect of Rome in the morning.

Smell: smoking
Hear: Bon journo
Taste: Italian bread and cheese from the supermarket – bella!
Touch: the streets of Rome with my cane

Sunday 2 September

Today we are booked on a tour in the afternoon to see the Coliseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum, so this morning we struck out on our own after a lovely breakfast in the Roof Garden restaurant of the Hotel Diana. We made our way to the Metro station Termini, first buying day tickets at a Tabac, and got off at Ottoviano. A walk down Via Ottoviano took us to the entrance to Vatican City and to Basilica St Pietro. We queued to enter the Basilica where services were being held being Sunday. Ron saw the Pieta by Leonardo Da Vinci, and the ornate interior of the Church and the massive dome in the centre. The museum was open and we viewed many ancient artefacts including a painting by Donatelli and sculpture by Bellini. Some of these dated back to 800AD. I enjoyed instead the sounds of the congregation singing and the priest delivering his Catholic mass.

The afternoon tour began when we were picked up from our hotel by a guide, who then lead us to the bus parked in a square a block or two away. Some time was spent waiting for more passengers at various pick up points.
Finally we arrived at the site of the Palatine Hill, the Coliseum, and the Roman Forum. Our guide, Marco, took us through the history of each interspersed by brisk walks. We covered quite a lot of ground over difficult terrain. The steps were nearly two thousand years old and as a consequence very uneven. Hanging onto Ron’s elbow I planted each foot down with trust. Occasionally Ron would march on, leaving me and my foot behind as it found its way stuck between the cobbles. I had to let go of his arm otherwise the pressure would have been transferred to my foot. I rolled my ankle a couple of times but in the main I survived the ancient steps. Marco described to us how the gladiators faced the wilder beasts in front of a crowd of 50,000 Romans. My heart began to sink at the thought of the gladiators facing their death or even worse – the wilder beasts facing death! Our guide then turned to us and said “We are now going up 56 steps to the first story of the Coliseum, you can take the lift” he ended with.

I presumed he was talking to me so I replied “I’m fine thanks, I’ll take the stairs”

He replied back, this time in his strong Italian accent “No, you can-a take-a the lift-a” I know he thought I wasn’t up to taking the stairs but for me it was the one way I could walk the same walk those thousands of Romans had walked hundreds of years before. I repeated “I will take the stairs thank you.” At which point he must have shot a glance in Ron’s direction. Ron must have rolled his eyes because then came his comment “She is an independent woman, she makes up her own mind” like I had some sort of feminist disease! At that moment I was tapped on the shoulder by an American lady in our tour group. “Oh she said, if you take the stairs then I can’t take the lift!” We laughed and climbed our way up the 56 steep marble steps to the top of the Coliseum! Only now did I have an idea of the enormity of this place, its height, its strength and its history.

The tour ended on the first floor after which we had forty minutes to wander. Wandering with me in one of the seven wonders means taking photos with outlandish objects with the Wonder as a backdrop. The Otago Daily Times, Bake a difference apron, our trip mascot Babydoll truffle and even a blow up hot pink air guitar got their turn in the time we had remaining. We returned to a drop off point near our Hotel at 6PM, weary, and footsore.
Beer and shandy bought from the street stall down the road was a welcome relief, and then we went out to a nearby restaurant and fulfilled one of my bucket list ambitions, a real Italian pizza in Italy. The day ended rather gruesomely with the pricking of a blister on Ron’s foot by me. Squish!

Smell: pastries in the market
Hear: Choir and catholic mass at St Peter’s Basilica
Taste: Margarita Pizza – bella!
Touch: brick on Palatine Hill at the Coliseum