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Rome: An Ancient City in Full Restoration Mode

The founding of Rome is dated back to around 753 BC – the Colosseum was completed in 80 AD, almost 2000 years ago – and thus, it’s not a secret that many of Rome’s ancient and aging monuments are in desperate need of restoration. It appears that many high-end Italian fashion brands have stepped up to make that restoration possible. All at once. To name a couple, Fendi, one of the biggest names in Italian fashion, has donated approximately 2.10 million Euros to restore the 18th century Trevi Fountain in order to preserve this precious heritage; the first of five fountains they have pledged to restore. And Tod’s shoes founder Diego della Valle donated approximately 25 million Euros to help restore the Colosseum from its aging and deteriorating state. In addition, Renzo Russo, founder of clothing company Diesel, is providing $6.7 million to restore and clean the oldest bridge spanning Venice’s Grand Canal, the Rialto.

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The Trevi Fountain under construction

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If you look closely, you’ll notice the left half has been restored (the scaffold is around the corner on the far left) while the right hasn’t

Scaffolding was erected on the Colosseum for the three year project in fall of 2013 and much of it is still in place. Reports indicate, restorers will first clean the facade, scrubbing away the blackened pollution stains from the near-by streets as well as repairing cracks. The next phases will see the construction of a new visitor’s center outside the monument and restoration of the internal areas, including the underground cells, or hypogeum, underneath the arena floor. Given this was supposed to be completed by the late 2015 and we still saw scaffold, non-restored exterior, and no new visitors centre, I would venture a guess that they are behind schedule.

Being in Rome, we had to visit the Colosseum. We don’t always do the typical-touristy itinerary, but come on: it’s Rome, and it’s the Colosseum! We bought our tickets online and paid a 4 EUR reservation fee and when we arrived the line for people with reserved tickets was three times as long as the one for individuals with no tickets. Those with no tickets appeared to have to wait a bit longer inside but I doubt it was worth the 4 EUR/person fee. Oh, and we had to PRINT our confirmation; it’s 2015 and we were not allowed to show the reservation number on the screen of our phone to exchange for a ticket at the counter, it literally had to be printed.

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We didn’t spend long at the Colosseum, but long enough to enjoy the sites and attempt to imagine what it might have been like 2000 years ago when the Colosseum was newly built and packed with 75,000 spectators watching wild and exotic animals and men fight.

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We visited the Colosseum again at night, just to get another look at the World Wonder. Nighttime is definitely the time to be out in Rome as even with fall just around the corner, the temperatures during the day are still scorching hot.

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The scaffold at the Colosseum was our first hit of the on-going construction to Rome’s monuments and we were, of course, sadly disappointed we couldn’t take in the full view of the Colosseum. But when we got to the Trevi Fountain and found it all boarded up we were thoroughly ticked off. Oh, but there is still a small pool of water coordinated off so people can throw their money away in hopes of a ‘swift return to Rome’…as if that somehow makes it better.

Maybe it was the construction everywhere, or maybe it was the heat and the fact I got sick that night but I decided at some point after our first day and before the second I had had just about enough of Rome for now.

And then we went to the Vatican City, which really solidified my opinion that I was excited to be leaving in a day for Florence.

What could possibly anger me about a beautiful sacred site?

  1. We reserved tickets and had to PRINT them
  2. We reserved tickets and had to pay a 4 EUR per person reservation fee (every blog we read said you “had” to reserve) and when we showed up there wasn’t a single person in line to buy tickets…
  3. In one of the first halls there was more restoration work going on, which i had had just about enough of (as stated earlier)

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4. They not only have a gift shop at the entrance and exit (like most museums) but they actually have the nerve to crowd hallways filled with art to sell tourists junk

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5. And this is the kicker. I read the website beforehand which stated that “Access to Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens and Saint Peter’s Basilica is permitted only to visitors dressed appropriately (no sleeveless blouses, no miniskirts, no shorts, no hats allowed).” More over, I read countless articles and blogs ensuring they really do enforce these rules. Regardless of enforcement, I like to think of myself as a respectful person and while I have little to no care towards religion, I dressed in the only clothing I had that covered my knees and shoulders: full length trousers and a t-shirt. This doesn’t sound like much but in +30 degree weather and having to take an underground metro, it is a lot of clothing. I also convinced Dan to wear pants as none of his shorts fully covered his knees. When we arrived I was shocked to see women in skimpy shorts with their bottoms hanging out (barely appropriate for public at all), backless tops, tube dresses, and men in tanks and shorts. If you are going to have a dress code, at least enforce it!

As we said earlier, night is often the best time to roam around in a city, and Rome is no exception. On our last night in Rome, Dan decided to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and Rome’s amazing layout where around almost every corner you can run smack into an ancient ruin, crumbling statue or stunning fountain, and take our favourite toy – our Sony A6000 – for a round of night shots. Some of our favourites:

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2 thoughts on “Rome: An Ancient City in Full Restoration Mode

  1. Anna Jean Msllinson says:

    I loved this! Rome enrages and amazes! It overwhelms! Your photos, especially the ones of the Colosseum and the night shots are stunning! I remember approaching the Vatican in a sleeveless dress and being told to buy a little plastic cape to wear over my shoulders. Florence must have been a relief. Anthea and i stayed in a beautiful hostel outside the city, an old palace. I love the buildings and the art in Florence. But you won’t forget Rome!

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