Monday, January 19, 2009

When in Rome...Part 5 (Colosseum, Forum, Shopping)

It was finally Sunday and our days in Rome were dwindling and we still hadn't seen the Colosseum, so that topped our list. We passed it every day in a taxi or bus and even saw it lit up at night from our night bus tour ride but had yet to go in. You can't go to Rome and not check out the Colosseum right?

After a relatively short wait, we got it! The weather was nice again, lucky us! We grabbed an audio guide and started listening as we made our way around the massive amphitheatre. The Colosseum astarted construction in 70 AD and was finished in 80 AD. Even through earthquakes and hundreds of years of bad weather it is pretty much still perfectly intact. Granted some of the rocks are crumbling but for being 2000 years old it is in pretty good shape! When it was in its prime marble covered the walls and floors. This marble has since been taken out to be used in churches and for sculptures around Rome, except for in the northeast side of the buildings where the blocks of original white marble are still stacked. You can kind of see it in this picture if you look closely. The arches on the ground floor - all 80 of them - used to be numbered and served as entrances. Different people went in different doors, all organized by where they sat (important people on the lowest floor, men and second-class people on the second level, and slaves and women on the top level with the worst view). In the old days they obviously had gladiator battles here, but the Colosseum was actually used for other things too: they would have animal hunts with animals brought back from Africa, and some days they would floor the ground floor and have naval battles! While all of this is most impressive, I was most happy with a room that the audio guide said was an old bathroom. They can tell this because of the underground plumbing. Throughout the whole Colosseum they have blocks of old marble, parts of old signs and such to give you an idea of what it was like back then. In this bathroom though was the best one...a sign that said 'pop'. Me being me, I thought this was strikingly similar to 'poop' and found it completely neccesary to take this photo!

Right next to the Colosseum is the Roman Forum. During the time Rome was a Republic (509-27 BC) this was basically the center of town with the shops, meetings houses and churches of Rome. Now it is a huge archeological site smack dab in the center of Modern Rome. In this picture, I know it may be hard to see, but I will try and explain some of the ancient buildings. Starting on the right, you see a building that looks like it is basically intact. This is one of the best preserved buildings in the Forum and is the Temle of Antoninus and Faustina. It was a famous temple during Imperial times and the Senate dedicated it to Empress Faustina after she died in 141 AD and later to her husband as well. Moving to the left you see another building that looks like it is in pretty good shape - a squat brick building. This is Curia Julia, the place where they think the old meetings took place. If you remember from my second blog, the original doors from this building have since been placed on the Church of St. John of Lateran. Moving left a little more you see a triple arch - the Arch of Septimus Severus, built to celebrate that emperor's victory over the Parthians (present day Iranians) in 203 AD. The farthest left item is the three marble columns are all that survive from teh Temple of Castor and Pollux. The original temple was built in 484 BC to honor Jupiter's twin sons. I was pretty impressed that all of these ancient buildings stayed up for so long...those Romans really knew how to build them!

After the whirlwind tour of ancient Rome, we headed to the Bocca della Veritá (The Mouth of the Truth). Before coming, Tom got me a little guidebook about Rome and I saw this in the book, just as a little sidenote in the text, and I knew I had to see it! Funny, because it was one of the things I was most excited to see and it isn't even that well known. It is a huge marble circle with the image of a face in teh center. They say that the mouth of the guy will close on any liar who puts his hand in. I of course put my hand in and thought a little lie in my head, but I still have my hand! It was comical to me that I got so excited about something that took 5 seconds of my whole trip in Rome. What's even funnier is that the face is in fact an old man-hole cover that was place here in 1632. It used to sit on the street and I guess from hundreds of years of weather and water it wore down into the image of a face!

Happy as I could be we did some shopping and ended up at the same delicious restaurant as the first night. I got the lasagna again and they even seated us at the same table! After trying the creme brule we headed back to the hotel for wine, of course, and to rest up for our last day in Rome.
Although we had a whole day left, there wasn't really anything left we HAD to see. On Mondays (this was a Monday) all of the musems are closed, so we kind of just decided to shop and eat all day. We went back to our favorite spots in town - Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain and Piazza Spagna. I of course found my ornament and throughout the day we saw some pretty nice shops. In one shop, full of delicious Italian food, there were these crazy noodles. They weren't just any noodles though, they were super multi-colored and in all different shapes and sizes. There was tagglio (or however you spell it) in the colors of the Italian flag; circle-shaped noodles with pink, blue and green; bowtie pasta with stripes; heart-shaped pasta and so much more. I wanted to buy some so bad, thinking it would make for a fun meal, but I figured they would get crushed in my suitcase on the way back and it wouldnt be too exciting to eat a slop of rainbow pasta.
Walking through the streets, like every day I suppose in Italy, we saw loads of nuns but what suprised me the most was that we passed a store that sells nun clothes along with priest outfits. Now I know these people have to buy thier outfits somewhere but this place had thier windows decorated and mannequins with nun outfits on...for some reason this isn't what I had in mind when I thought of a nun buying her black and white costume.

Not having anything specific to do, we kind of wandered in and out of stores and just people watched. It was a great way to end a vacation - no rushing to do last minute things we hadn't accomplished or anything. We of course went back to our favorite restaurant for one last time and of course had the lasagna again. It was pretty funny because they recognized us for the third time and sat us in our special table ha. They must think we were pretty crazy, coming to teh same restaurant 3 times in one week, but we couldn't pass it up! Now if only I could figure out how to make such delicious lasagna...

The last night in Rome was uneventful, just packing and sharing our favorite things about Rome. My holiday from Spain to Belgium to Italy had been action-packed but I am so happy I had so much to do and got to see two great European countries. I loved Italy and am sure I will be back. There is so much I want to see on this continent! I hope you liked reading about my holiday adventure and in some way felt like you were there with me! The blogs were long, I know, but there is so much I wanted to share with you and fun little facts that I think really help bring it to life! Next two-week trip will be in Easter when my friend Cassie comes from home and we take over Spain and Portugal...until that I am back to weekend trips and can't wait to share with you!


1 comment:

Cassandra Danielle said...

Yay for our 2 week trip!!!