When we got toward the top we saw many ancient ruins... some very large but besides the few sign markers we knew little about what we were seeing. I had Rick Steve's audio tours on a little iPod that dropped out of my pocket back at Grotti di Castellana. Anyway, we did see the houses of Augustus and evil Livia. A lot of history here. And the views from the top were great... all the way to St. Peters.
The trouble came when we couldn't find our way down to the Forum way below. They don't make it easy to get out of these places... one way in and maybe two exits... far far away from each other. We heard that not too long ago, the Forum and Palatine were free... that's why when we tried to get into the Palatine previously, we found several entrance gates--all locked. Now, they funnel you to make lots of money. I really don't understand the Italian way of doing things. If they complain their aren't enough jobs, hire people to man these gates... have ticket sales at every one of them so tourists don't have to crown and funnel into one or two entrance points. You'd have more exits, too.
By the time we located a way out it actually dumped us near the Colosseum again. The wrong direction from where we needed to go. We were thinking we could walk back to the apartment after strolling through the Forum (keep dreaming). We made a wrong turn (to the right after coming down from Palatine, instead of left toward the rest of the Forum) so we didn't see much of the Forum at all. We we hot, sweaty and thirsty and decided to get back to start packing for home--by taxi. Besides, I don't think my poor legs could have taken any more of the incredibly irregular ancient paving stones we came upon down in the Forum--it was like Pompeii all over again. Walking these stones can be a real contact sport--where you contact the ground! At this late date I know when I am pushing my own body--and Lucas and Lisa--too hard.
Of course, the only taxi stand was on the other side of the Colosseum. More walking! We didn't see the typical TAXI sign but eagle-eyed Lucas spotted the mish-mosh huddle of taxis and saved the day. (Taxi stands don't always have a neat line of cabs cued waiting for a fare... often they are in a jumble and you have to ask "Chi e primo?"... Who's first?)
Taxi home... rest... pack... then we went to dinner at our favorite little Trastevere joint: Trattoria Vincenzo Alla Lungaretta. Cheap, good food, checkered tablecloths and nice waitress. We had some wine which also was good and cheap. During dinner we noticed a commotion outside. There was a protest march through the streets... candles, signs, priests, babies, moms and dads--all types. They were protesting Italy joining the war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The crowd walked past the restaurant for about 20 minutes.
A short walk back to the apartment and showers to save time in the morning. When tucking Lucas into bed he looked up at me with a tired grin and said, "Dad, I'm SO happy we came to Italy! It's been amazing!" That meant the world to me... this difficult, beautiful whirlwind of an adventure was worth it after all... We put a smile on his face and memories in his heart.
I wrote this at the airport where we had a lousy breakfast and are suffering with inadequate A\C again.
I pray the flight takes us back home safely...