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Unique activities for trip :-)

Birmingham, Alabama
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Unique activities for trip :-)

Hi, I am having fun planning my itinerary for my next European adventure! The info I have found by searching has been very helpful. But I have some questions for you guys.

Here are the basics: I plan on traveling from London to Rome, either 10/14April - 22/23April.

Here are my questions:

-- Ancient Roman Bath that I can visit and use. I would like it to be close to Rome but I can make a day trip to experience it and the city it's in.

-- Gladiator show tickets? I saw the school but I don't like it enough to pay that much for it unless someone can tell me about a more affordable option :-)

-- ancient Roman dinner theatre experience like Medieval Banquet

I haven't had any luck finding info online. Can you guys help me with this and any other activities that UNIQUE to Rome? Thanks!!!!

Liguria, Italy
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21. Re: Unique activities for trip :-)

People might be able to imagine what this poster is asking if they remembered that some people ask when they travel to a city:

"What unique thing could I bring home from this place?"

So this query is in that spirit, except the person doesn't want to buy anything.

It's a very common thing that travelers look for -- the gondola ride in Venice, learning how to make pizza in Naples, learning how to make pasta in Bologna and pesto in Genoa.

What is funny about many of the responses in this thread is this idea that city of historic orgies, public burnings and men swanning around in dresses with cardboard cones on their head is somehow going to be defiled by a tourist looking for unique Roman things to do while in Rome.

Which reminds me:

Stick your hand in the Mouth of Truth.

Los Angeles...
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22. Re: Unique activities for trip :-)

In my opinion, reading that small book by Edward Gibbons may enhance your trip to Rome (and most of Europe) and constitutes a unique experience.

For ancient Roman haute cuisine, why not try stuffed dormice? The favorite appetizer of the rich and famous circa 50 A.D.

For genuine Roman bath experience, first you work up a sweat by exercising. Then you enter the tepidarium and have a slave using a strigil to scrap the sweat and dirt off your body (called gloios) and flick it to the walls and floor of the tepidarium. (Your doctor will come in later to collect the gloios and use it as binding agent for medical ointment.) Then you are ready for the caldarium.

I wonder if these are experience OP is looking for?

Relax people. This is Trip Advisor forum not the Thorn Tree. Everyone travel on a different level. I think we all convince ourselves that our experience is "unique" in someway.

Norwich, United...
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23. Re: Unique activities for trip :-)

Not my own cup of tea, and possibly too close to the Disneyland end of the scale, but here's one "Rome-only" experience you might try....

http://www.angelsanddemons.it/

or: italylogue.com/featured-articles/a-self-guid…

........................

I don't think there are many other capitals that still maintain the tradition of firing a noon-day gun - originally intended so clocks could be adjusted, services and trains start on time etc etc....

http://www.pbase.com/isolaverde/rome_roma

(and, obviously, no similar walk anywhere else would offer views of Rome!)

........................

But it may not be the best place to look for baths and spas, and instead you'll find several that date back to antiquity down here in Campania - although rushing down on a daytrip does rather go against the whole spirit of the thing?

For details, there's a good leaflet - originally produced by our own regional tourist board - here:

http://www.overseasgourmet.com/spa.pdf

........................

But back to Rome, where a pretty unique collection of mangey old cats can be found - hanging around, stretching their claws - in the Forum, with.... impossible although it may seem.... even more of them in the sanctuary that's been established amongst the temple ruins in the centre of the Largo di Torre Argentina....

http://www.romancats.com/

Despite attempts to help the poor creatures, seemingly they have nowhere else to go...

www.pbase.com/isolaverde/image/130383835

... but I trust you'll follow the advice shown there, and restrain yourself from feeding them - it only attracts more!

Peter

PS... the city did once have at least one "Roman-style" banqueting house, but that's long gone:

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g187791-i22-k389…

Los Angeles...
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24. Re: Unique activities for trip :-)

Hi Brit,

Havana still has a nightly cannon ceremony after dark.

I wander which clock they used to determine when to fire the noon time gun in Rome back then.

Edited: 14 February 2012, 09:37
Le Marche, Italy
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25. Re: Unique activities for trip :-)

The cannon has been used to announce midday in Rome only since 1846. By then, they had accurate clocks to determine the time, but not everybody had one, so the cannon helped people to adjust their watches.

Before the cannon, beginning in 1702, noon in Rome was determined by the meridian line in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli near Termini station. This beautiful church is really worth a visit. It's located in one part of the ruins of the ancient Baths of Diocletian, which might interest our original poster. The sun enters through a small hole high on a wall of the basilica and falls on a long line on the floor. When the sun hits the line, it's noon, and the bells were rung to announce the time.

Before 1702, I don't think there was any official announcement of noon. People used their own sundials or whatever.

The Basilica also has an oculus like the one at the Pantheon; in ancient Rome, these were a very common way of lighting the interior of a building. The oculus in Santa Maria degli Angeli is covered by a glass lantern to keep rain from wetting the congregation below.

Los Angeles...
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26. Re: Unique activities for trip :-)

Thanks for the info bvlenci.

I guess before 1702, they didn't have to worry about the train running on time.

Le Marche, Italy
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27. Re: Unique activities for trip :-)

As I said above, there's a part of the Baths of Diocletian in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, near Termini station. These baths were enormous, and included the whole area of Piazza della Repubblica and beyond. You can see other parts of it in the National Museum of Rome, (Baths of Diocletian), a very interesting museum, and in the Aula Ottagonale, which is part of the museum. One of the original towers in the outside wall is now the church of San Bernardo alle Terme, which has a structure similar to the Pantheon, with a dome and an oculus; like the one at Santa Maria degli Angeli, it's covered with a glass lantern. The inside of San Bernardo has been completely redone.

If you look on Google Maps for a walking route from Piazza della Repubblica to Baths of Diocletian (the museum), then to Santa Maria degli Angeli, then to San Bernardo alle Terme, you'll get some idea of the original size of these baths, but they extended even beyond this.

By the way, a lot of people thing that Termini station gets its name for being a transportation terminus, but it has nothing to do with that. The Latin word for baths was "thermae", so Termini station is named after the baths. The area was known as Termini before there even was a station.

The Baths of Caracalla can be better appreciated for their size, because they are still in an area with no modern constructions. They also have mosaics floors and other orginal decorations. However, the vault of Santa Maria degli Angeli is more intact than anything at the Baths of Caracalla.

There are also Roman baths at Ostia Antica, and that's a very interesting place. There you can stand behind an ancient Roman bar and pretend you're an ancient Roman bartender, if you consider that an activity. You can also climb to the second story of an ancient Roman apartment build, and see an ancient Roman public toilet.

Edited: 14 February 2012, 10:30
Le Marche, Italy
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28. Re: Unique activities for trip :-)

I really can't think of any activities, in the sense of actively doing something, that are unique to Rome. The hammam is really a Turkish bath, and therefore not at all unique to Rome, although the Turks got the idea from the Romans, as well as from the Russian sauna.

The papal audience isn't very active, unless you say your rosary while you're there. Even most of the cooking classes and wine tastings are pretty touristy affairs, attended by foreigners who usually don't have any particular knowledge of cooking or wine.

Norwich, United...
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29. Re: Unique activities for trip :-)

1stneuron....

No trains anywhere in Italy - most especially not in the Papal States (where Pope Gregory XVI, apparently, had declared them "a devilish work") - until the forward-looking Ferdinand II had one brought over from Newcastle upon Tyne, in England, in 1839... to connect a seaside palace at Portici with the nearby capital of his realm, Naples.

www.pbase.com/isolaverde/image/104340191

Peter

Le Marche, Italy
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30. Re: Unique activities for trip :-)

By the way, the British built the first railroad in continental Europe, in France, and introduced their habit of driving on the left. To this day, trains stay on the left all over Europe.

Another nugget: in the American colonies, carriages habitually maintained the left when passing (in places where they *could* pass), because of the prevalent British influence, until German immigrants introduced maintaining the right in Pennsylvania. Since many of the settlers of the west and south came from Pennsylvania, the custom spread widely.