Saturday, September 4, 2010

It’s just a pile of rocks

Today was the day to visit the Roman Coliseum and all of the surrounding areas.  We caught a couple of metro trains and moved above-ground right by the Coliseum……it was breathtaking to walk out of the Metro and see the beautiful structure.  David and Lyn had read about getting a Roma pass which allowed you to enter several different venues for one price.  BUT, the really good thing about the pass was that we got to walk right past all of the hundreds of people waiting in line to buy tickets!!!   We were some of the first visitors into the structure at the start of the day and were able to enjoy the arena without the crush of people.

As we entered there was much talk about the Georgia Bulldog game and we decided that Michael and David were dressed for the first game, even if they were in the wrong stadium……

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As Lyn said, “Rick Steves was riding shotgun with us” so we were able to find out lots of information about the Coliseum from his book.  You can see down below the stage area and into the pits where the animals and other “baddies” were kept.  There were shafts on this level that were used as elevators to move the animals and other predators to the stage level.  Apparently, the gladiator did not know exactly what he was going to face until the door was opened.

We loved taking photos of the structure and especially enjoyed the clear blue morning sky!!!!

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I spent a lot of time with the camera focused on various textures that we found.  I particularly loved this face carved in the column base……

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This cross marked the center of the stadium and was probably where the high officials would have sat._9047717 _9047709 _9047711Our parting shot of the Coliseum and the Arch of Constantine…..

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The next stop was the Roman Forum.   This is where the “it’s just a pile of rocks” starts to kick in.  It was all very interesting and I love looking at all of the textures, but eventually they all start to look the same!!!  It was interesting to think about who might have walked along the same path and stood in the same spot!!!

 _9047768 _9047757 _9047761 _9047873 _9047809 Simply amazing structures!!!!!

We left the Forum to visit the Mamertine Prison which supposedly once held St. Peter and St. Paul.  It was a small half circle stone room with a 2.5 foot wide hole in the roof.  Apparently, prisoners were dropped into the prison from that hole.  It was a sobering thought to think of these great men of God being treated in such a way.  The prison itself was interesting, but the whole Mamertine experience was overblown.  You were given an audio guide and watched/listened to 4 different talks about the prison and about Christianity in general.  Unfortunately most of it was sensational and meant to stimulate the senses rather than present information. 

As we left the prison area, we entered the Capitol Hill area and came across THREE different sets of brides and grooms walking thru the various courtyards and taking photos.  We wondered just how much it would cost to have a wedding here!!!!

Next we wanted to go up Palatine Hill which is where the Emperors would have lived….thus came the rub.  We started walking in the direction that we thought was correct and again, we ended up walking around 3-1/2 sides of a huge circuit before we returned to the entrance.  The good side of this jaunt is that we got to see Circus Maximus which is where the chariot races took place.  As we read Rick Steve’s description, we decided that it was simply an early version of NASCAR…..filled full of Rednecks waiting for a crash!!!!   The area is about 1,300 feet long by 720 fee wide and would seat 250,000 people.  Today it is not much more than a open field……

_9047851 Now, back to finding Palatine Hill……we approached the entrance and realized that it was the same one that we had used to go to the Forum.  Unfortunately you can only go into each entrance one time on a ticket.  However, we played dumb and the poor attendant felt sorry for us and let us in again….there is something to be said for being a dumb American!!!

Palatine Hill had some wonderful vistas and yet more ruins and lots of hills to climb up…..

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We loved these trees which were called Umbrella Pines…..

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By this stage, we figure that we had walked about 6 or 7 miles and were all exhausted so we made our way back toward the apartment.  The Metro trains were crammed and we had to push our way onto each one of them.  It was amazing how many people they could fit into each car!!!

When we got the apartment we had a lunch/afternoon snack that consisted of two types of cheese, salami, prosciutto and bread whose crust would break a tooth!!

About 6:30 we got dressed up and headed out to a restaurant that David had read about.  It was located just below the Spanish steps so we walked to the top of the steps and the nstrolled down. _9047882

It was amazing how many people were in that area……

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Unfortunately, that particular restaurant was closed until September 7th, so we went across the street and ate in another small restaurant.  The food was excellent and each of us tried a different menu item.

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My favorite was the Caprese Salad which consists of Buffala Mozarella, tomatoes, olive oil and basil.

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Afterwards, the four of us ROLLED back to our apartment.  Even though we were all stuffed, we couldn’t resist one more stop……good old Gelato!!!!!

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We called it a day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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