Sunday, June 8, 2008

Rome, Day 14

We headed for the old section of town on the Metro first thing this morning; which is surprisingly small once you get there. The Colosseum, Palatine Hill, The Forum, Capitaline Hill, and Circus Maximus are all within a ½ mile or so of each other.

First was the Colosseum, which is in either surprisingly good shape, or extremely poor shape—depending on how you look at it. Considering that it has not been used for over 1500 years, I suppose it is in good shape. Amazingly, the shows were free, and seated about 65,000 people; who could be seated quickly because of the 80 entrances/exits which were numbered around the Colosseum. Just a glimpse of it, will help you realize just how marvelous it was when first completed. (As a side note, the financing to build the Colosseum came from the gold which was plundered from Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70.)

We walked down the Imperial Fora as well, a street built by Mussolini during WWII leading from the Colosseum to his palace; trying to make the Italian people compare his empire to the Roman Empire. It even has plaques on the wall showing the progression of the Roman Empire.

We headed next for the Palatine Hill, where lots emperors built their palaces to overlook the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Now it is mostly ruins, with a few parts of buildings left. Incidentally we went on a Saturday, and as we were walking to the Palatine we came across a plethora of brides/grooms having their pictures taken; what an incredible place to have wedding pictures taken! (Had to put that in for the ladies…knew they would care.) ;-)

After the Palatine, we walked down to the Roman Forum. Among the notable sites, is the Arch of Titus; built to glorify the sack of Jerusalem. The huge Basilica of Maxentius (of which only 1/3 remains to be seen), the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the Temple of Vesta (which housed the eternal flame of Rome), and the Temple of Castor and Pollux were also there. All that remains of the Temple of Julius Caesar is a small mound, where Caesar’s remains were buried. The other notable sites are the Arch of Septimus Severus, the Curia Julia (where the Senate met), and the Rostra—where Mark Antony’s famous “…friends, Romans, countrymen…” speech was given.

Then we headed to the great views from the terraces of the Vittoriano, a national museum; and the Capitoline Hill which is the most sacred hill in Rome. After that we went down to the Piazza Bocca d Verita; and the “Mouth of Truth” (from Roman Holiday). Finally we walked over to the Circus Maximus—which is now no more than a park with a dirt track—but once was a magnificent track where chariots were raced. (Think Ben-Hur)

After a quick Metro ride back to our hotel, and a bit of a break, we headed back out for some dinner; some fine Italian dining right beside the Tiber River!


No comments: