yah, really crappy breakfast

That was really nice of them, they saved us an hour of doing nothing or an hour of walking on a busy modern street to around the Villa

some of these ruins are from the 4th Century B.C.

It was a great, beautiful, relaxing walk, not many hills

Yah, this was annoying, there was only one waitor to serve all of us there...

Italy II: Sorrento and Rome

The Ancient Appian Way

And so we arrive at Lin-Wei's day. Luckily we talked to the dude at the hotel desk, and he said it would be no problem to
The ruins of the Villa Quintilii
catch a cab to the Villa Quintilii. After breakfast (which was a lot poorer than the Grand Hotel Capodimonte. The coffee was out of a machine and almost undrinkable, and I had to resort to eating meat sandwiches as there were few pastries to be had) our cab was called, and we got in. Telling him where we wanted to go, he said sure, and said it would be about €30. He didn't, however, feel the need to turn on the meter, which I noticed but of course said nothing about.

Hello? Anybody home?
He told us that he could wait in the cab while we toured the Villa and give us a ride back, but we told him our plan about walking back. Laughing, he agreed that it was ambitious and wished us well.

The entrance to the Villa Quintilii was on the Appia Nuova, and our archeological passes got us in. When we described our plan to the people behind the desk, they looked uncomfortable and told us that they don't usually open the back gate (which was on the ancient Appian Way) until much later in the day, but they agree to meet us there in 1 hour (10am exactly) to let us through.

Some of the tallest ruins we had seen
The Villa Quintilii was very nice, and you could see why Emperor Commodus had the Quintilii brothers killed and took it for himself. They had an extensive area on which they built, and the ruins of the palace / houses still stand multiple stories high in all their brick glory. They even had baths that were fed by their own aqueduct (a big point in their favor in my book). And our tour did take just about an hour. At the appointed time a guy from the office came driving up in his golf cart and let us through the gate.

The appia antica (ancient appian way) was one of the major roads leading out of Rome and was pretty much the way to
The sticklers travel on the Appia Antica
get to Southern Italy and the ports to the eastern portion of the empire. As people were not allowed to be buried within the city limits, wealthy Romans took to building elaborate tombs and placed them along the appia antica for all to see. The ruins of many of these still stand, and we made sure to get pictures next to many of them. Lin-Wei had a map of the park surrounding the appia antica, and some literature about all the different markers and tombs we saw. So it was a fun-fact filled romp through history.

A funerary monument on the Appia Antica
On Sunday's they close down the appia antica to car traffic, so there were many people out walking that day (a portion of the road, and not the whole thing I'm guessing) as well as bicyclists, to whom I gave dirty looks because of the day prior. But it was hard to get my mood down on such a sunny day.

After seeing the Tomb of Cecilia Metella saw one of the three catacombs in this area on our left. All the literature we read said that these catacombs were closed on Sunday, so weren't we surprised that not only were they open, but free as well! The next tour in English was in a half hour, but we were getting hungry, so we joined an Italian tour leaving right after we got there. So we didn't really get much out of the explanations, but we had read most of the history anyway. The catacombs were carved into volcanic rock, and they were quite extensive and deep, and we only scratched the surface on our tour. There were tons and tons of passageways that we bypassed.

Bus driver Amateur Hour
Surfacing, we walked around a bit to find a place to eat and settled on a somewhat fancy place by the Tomb of Cecilia Metella. We beat the lunch rush by about 20nmin (yay! us again) and settled in for a relaxing lunch. We wanted to be at the next catacomb at 2pm when it oped (many places closed between 12-2) and figured we had plenty of time. People began to pile in then, and the place got pretty busy. It looked like the church crowd was there, as people in nice clothes took all the reserved seats outside (a rare internal meal for us!). By 1:15 we finished eating, and tried to get the attenion of the now very busy waiter. By 1:30 we were getting annoyed... Lin-Wei used the restroom and was disappointed that the check had not come. I went to use the restroom, and I was disappointed the check was not there yet.
Mile Marker One of the Appia Antica
By 1:40 we finally got hsi attention and asked for the check. By 1:55 we still had no check, and tour buses were now dropping off people for lunch! Finally we said the hell with it and were just gion to leave some money on the table but that seemed to get his attention and we got our bill. What started out as a pretty good lunch ended with extreme annoyance. More delays ensued, however, as we had to wait for an idiotic bus driver to get his bus out of the parking lot.

We got to the next catacomb just after a bunch of tours were leaving, and Lin-Wei was pissed, but it was only 15min to the next English-speaking tour, and we held out for this one. No photos were allowed in any of the catacombs, which was kind of a bummer. Most of the bodies had been exhumed anyway so I'm not sure why they had the photo restriction.

San Sebastian Gate
After the catacombs it was about another hour back to the San Sebastian gate in Rome, where we took photos of appia antica Mile Marker 1. It was mid-afternoon at this point and we had put in a good hike. We briefly considered touring the Baths of Caracalla (which was part of our Archeological Pass), but a weary heart and sore feet vetoed that.

We took a good long rest at our hotel, only rousing when our bellies told us it was time to find some food. As we were near ancient Rome, we took the opportunity to see the Forums of Caesar, Augustus, and Trajan in passing. With no guidebook we were at a loss to find somewhere to eat in the Capitoline hill area. We were amazed by the Victor Emmanual monument built on the Capitoline, but that didn't fill our bellies. We eventually ended up at a crappy place in an ugly part of the city just cause we couldn't walk another step. Next time gotta be sure to get a couple places in mind before heading out.

Victor Emmanual Monument on the Capitoline Hill
After crappy dinner we climbed to the top of the Capitoline hill as we got a tip from the cheap beer coworker that there were some sweet views of the forum from up there. But all we got were some crappy views of government buildings. On the plus side, there was a Canadian with a movie camera wandering around up there as well. He asked for directions towards the colosseum and with confidence in her voice Lin-Wei pointed him in the entirely wrong direction! We didn't know that until later because we were lost as well, and realizing our error we felt kinda bad. And we felt even worse when we got ourselves situated and we saw him back down on the sidewalk below getting directions from another couple. Oops!

Drunken Brawling at the Vatican

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