Roma: Day 2
Whew. After a busy first half-day, we went to bed early and got up early (honestly, though, the jet lag hadn't worn off yet....and then we realized that Saturday night was Daylight Savings in Europe -- just to mess us up a little bit more!) We caught the metro to the Colosseo stop, and as soon as you exit, it's THERE. Of all the sites in Rome, this was the one I was truly looking forward to.
After a few pics outside the Colosseum, we headed for the entrance (got to skip the line w/the Roma pass!) and started to wander inside. I think I could have spent an entire day there...It's just so hard to believe it had been around 2000 years ago. And the activities that took place inside -- one can picture the stands filled and fighters battling it out, but for some reason it was difficult for me to conceptualize this as reality rather than just a story from history. The manpower, design, and intellect that went into making this building is nothing short of astounding.
Il Colosseo. I took many, many pictures (see the flickr account), but this was one is a good overview, with Annie!
From there, we stopped at the Arch of Constantine (celebrating the legalization of Christianity) and headed to the Forum next door. This was also breathtaking, to think it was all actually in use 2000 years ago and some of it continues to stand today. Obviously this is quite a large area; a few of the stops that stood out to me were the site where Julius Caesar's body was cremated, the Basilica of Constantine remains (even with just the side arches standing, this place must have been incredible), and the Curia (Senate House). So rich in history, again I easily could have spent many days here. I also found myself wondering what treasures were beneath the pedestrian paths running through the plot, as I'm sure a little digging would reveal yet another amazing discovery.
A nice overview of the forum (high-def!), as taken from the Renaissance gardens of the Farnese family (in Palatine Hill).
The next stop was Palatine Hill, where the Emperors lived and worked. Again, so rich in history. Much less of this area is preserved -- many of the stops are down to just a few bricks. But the footprints of buildings allowed us to get an idea of how massive the complex was. I really liked the Emperor's private Stadium (depressed into the ground), the views from the complex (Circus Maximus behind, Forum in front, Il Colosseo just south), and the House of Livia and Augustus. Hard to believe this was where Augustus actually lived, and a lot of it is still standing!
Emperor Annie! ...atop the site where Emperors used to sit.
Next came a stroll to Trajan's column/Forum/Market, the Victor Emmanuel Monument (to the first King of the United Italian Republic), Santa Maria in Aracoeli Church, Capitol Hill Square (with the statue of the She-Wolf and il nasone -- a drinking fountain that apparently looks like a nose). A quick stop at a sidewalk cafe (great prosciutto!) for lunch came next. Hard to believe we could still stand at this point, but we still had a lot ahead of us. The Pantheon is stunning, especially since it is still in use -- the only building continually in use since it was built. It is also essentially the most impressive dome ever constructed, and has served as a model for most churches (Including St. Peter's Basilica) and many buildings (U.S. Capitol building).
Around this time, hunger took over any interest in seeing more sites. We headed for the Campo de' Fiori (field of flowers), a square with many restaurants, and also the site of Julius Caesar's stabbing. We had some of the best pasta ever, a great recharge just before a romantic walk across Rome. The guidebook we were using had a night walk planned, which ended up being the perfect way to end the day. Stops included the Pantheon (again), Piazza Novana (wonderful fountain here, called the Four Rivers, with statues celebrating the four river gods representing the four continents known in 1650 -- this fountain was Annie's favorite stop until a little later on...), Piazza Colonna (yet another Egyptian obelisk), the Trevi Fountain, and ending at the Spanish Steps.
The Trevi Fountain is simply amazing. A large part of this (in my opinion) was that it is situated a bit away from streets, a welcomed escape from the city, especially after a long night. The only downside was the extremely aggressive street workers trying to sell garbage to tourists. We had some gelato and stayed here for quite awhile -- it soon topped the Four Rivers Fountain as Annie's favorite.
Playing with shutter speeds in Campo de' Fiori. Caesar was stabbed just behind where this photo was taken.
Finally, we headed to the Spanish Steps, a short walk from the Trevi Fountain. There were quite a lot of young people here, many singing very loudly -- obnoxious. Right next to the steps is the house where Keats died of TB (he moved to Italy from London at the suggestion of doctors, thinking a warmer climate would provide relief) -- it is now a museum. By this time, we were ready to collapse, and headed for the metro and a quick ride back to the hotel.
Despite all the sites visited, we obviously missed quite a few also. But, I was really happy we were able to see so many things I've heard about for many years. A key piece of advice that really made this day great was to book a hotel that provided a quiet atmosphere for rest after long days -- we passed out just after getting back, and awoke the next day ready for more...the perfect lead-in to the next post!
More photos: flickr