Sunday, 19 January 2014

Rome Where You Want To - Part 2

Rome Italy.  Still hard to believe I was really there.  Anyway, ha ha . . .

Our first full day was over and we're back in the apartment to settle down and get some rest.  As I'm lying down on my bed checking the news and Facebook I hear the distinct sound of a woman crying and cursing in Italian.  I peek my head out and it's the owner of the hostel frantically mopping up water in the lobby and, what I assume, a mechanical room behind the front desk.  Her poor English was made even worse by what appeared to be a crisis of plumbing proportions.  "Caldera! Burst! Plumber, ahhh!!!"  Ooooooh, I get it, that's why there's no running water in our room's bathroom.  Good thing a shower wasn't on the list for the evening and we had bottled water.  I actually felt pretty sorry for the poor woman, even offered to help, but she said she was fine and everything would be OK.  The next morning everything seemed fine and breakfast was laid out for us as normal.

So, day 3, our last full day in the city.  Today was going to be all about ancient Rome.  The big stops were Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Coliseum, and the Roman Forum.  Here we go!
 Everywhere you walk in Rome you see the neatest shops, bakeries, and here, a butcher/deli.  Quite charming, really, and I don't know if it was all show, but sure looked authentic Italian to me!  It sorta' reminded me of Salmuis sandwiches in Seattle, which had some the best sandwiches I'd ever had, mmmmmm, but I digress...

The tradition says if you stand with your back to the Trevi Fountain and throw in a coin, good luck will bring you back to Rome!  Wait!  That was my last 2 Euro coin!!!

More of the Trevi Fountain.  For an ordinary November weekday, it was packed with tourists.  I'd hate to see this place during the busy season!

The fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome, and perhaps the most famous fountain in the world.  It's estimated that there is over 3,000 euros cast into it every day!

David loves fountains.  He can't take his eyes off them...

Around the touristy areas of the fountain are Italian woodcarving shops.  Check out this wooden Harley!  Rock on, dude David!  Many of these wood shops had Pinocchio themes going on.  Yeah, I guess now that I think about it that was an Italian story . . .

More good stuff:  The Pantheon!  What's interesting about this place is its age and its use as a religious edifice crossing paganism and Christianity.  Now it's more of a tourist trap, but hey, it's still cool.
These doors are almost 2,000 years old!

The famous oculus, the only source of natural light inside the building. 

Outside view, with complementary sunburst.

And what do we have here?  ANOTHER POOR FOOL wearing an Oregon Ducks shirt!  Is Rome a magnet for the misguided souls?
David is ever-enthralled at 2,000 year old buildings.

I remember the weather this day.  Absolutely beautiful. Probably about 75F and not a cloud in the sky.

Honestly, this wasn't on the to-see list, but the Alter to the Fatherland was visually very impressive.  and it was FREE!  Inside was a lot of military monuments, memorabilia, paintings, and artefacts. I guess modern Romans have some mixed feelings about the monument as it was a Mussolini-era construction when Italian fascism was at its height.  Ignoring that today, it's still an impressive building and the inside was done well, more of just objective historical treatment of Italy's military.

David says he may be getting curly hair, just like his momma's. . .

No, THIS we DID plan for!  The Colosseum! I was pretty excited actually to get to tour this place, so I think I'll just sit back and let the pictures do the talking . . .

Try to imagine these were once filled with people, spectators of all walks of life, now just shadows and memories . . .
Panoramic view!

Mr. Handsomes enjoying his visit to Rome and the Colosseum.

The floor of the stadium was filled with catacombs, trap doors, cages, and gladiator rooms.  Much like the back stage of a sophisticated modern theatre, it had all the inner workings necessary for the big productions of those days.

David just can't stop looking at all the action!

Some of the surviving original artistic reliefs found during excavations featuring gladiators, of course!

I wouldn't have expected it, but here we have Costantini the Colosseum Cat!

As you can see by the shadows we spent a lot of time inside the Colosseum.  I loved it, I suppose it was my favourite single place we visited on our trip.  The restorative scaffolding spoiled the outside view a little but other than that, a  great visit and a must-see.

I also should editorialize here a bit about what this place means now that I've visited it and learned its history a bit more.  The Colosseum really was, in its basic form, a horrible place.  A place where humans and animals were pitted against each other and cheered by bloodthirsty spectators all in the name of "entertainment".  Thousands of animals, and perhaps as many humans were executed or forced to fight to the death, including early Christian martyrs. 

Now it stands merely a shell, a decaying fragment of its former self.  While it was an engineering masterpiece that has withstood the tests of time and the elements, its use can really only be regarded as a monument of humanity's cruelty and depravity.

But even with all that, it still stands as one of my favourite visits in the city.  It should be seen, it should not hide its past.  People must be made to see what technology, engineering, and entertainment can be brought together to such levels of inhumanity.  We have to learn and recognize how low we can go as a "modern society" in the names of entertainment.

The Arch of Constantine, commemorates his victory in the Battle of Milvian Bridge.  The night before that battle it is believed that Constantine had a vision that if he put the first two letters of Jesus' name (or some accounts say a cross) on their shields they would win the fight.  They did, and they did win, and that was the first major step of Constantine's and subsequently Rome's conversion to Christianity.

The Convento S. Bonaventura Al Palatino

Unfortunately for us, we ran out of time and the Roman Forum closed before we could get inside.  I guess we'll just have to go back another day!!

I never knew this about Rome, but I guess it has a problem with starlings as measured by the millions...

Did I mention millions of starlings?
I didn't take this pic, but you can see why starlings are something of a problem in Rome . . .
so . . . then end of another awesome day in Rome . . . and to finish it off right, a ROMAN FEAST!  Actually, in all honesty, the food was a real low point in our visit.  I take the blame for this one as of all the things I planned for in the trip I spent no time in researching good restaurants to visit.  We sort of threw the dice on dinner and well, we crapped out.  Again, it's a good excuse to go back!

Stay tuned for exciting final chapter: Pax Romana!

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