Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Rome Day Two

We’ve only been in Rome for two days and already things are starting to run together. We seem to be going to, through or past the same ruins, areas of town and streets that we covered either the day before or today (or was it yesterday?). For example, we know the way down cold from just about anywhere in Central Rome to Trastevere, where we’re staying. All we have to do is get to the Trevi Fountain. We head from there to the Pantheon, over to the cat sanctuary and follow the Via down to the Ponte. We cross over the river and follow the Via down to the Europtical store, take a right and, in two blocks, we’re home. We’ve done the walk in the sunshine, in the rain and in the dark of night and we’ve only been here two days. No wait, this is actually day 2.5.

Yesterday was day 2. Yesterday we walked to and through the Colosseum. We passed by the Forum, which we went through today in a thunder storm. Yesterday, after the Colosseum and an excellent lunch afterwards, we went back to the ranch, rested and re-grouped and then went out for the evening to the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. We were so tired out from walking to, through and around the Colosseum and then back to the hotel, that when we went out for the evening we took a cab to the Spanish Steps and worked our way back on foot.

The Colosseum was very cool. Built in 10 years by 50,000 Jewish slaves, it sat that many Romans who came to watch them, and other slaves and gladiators, get slaughtered in its main arena. We learned that the warm up acts included dogs fighting porcupines, dwarfs fighting one-legged men and slaves fighting against hippos, lions, deer, other (what were considered) exotic animals and other slaves. Hardly anyone got out of the arena alive, except for Russell Crowe and Tony Curtis before him, but that was only in the movie version. Most everybody else who fought under the canvas awning that covered the Colosseum on hot, sunny days and became so much pieces of meat.

When the Roman emperors came back victorious with their bounty of treasures, animals and slaves, they would parade them all through the Titus Arch, down the length of the Forum (which we went through in a rainstorm and so had the experience somewhat mitigated by being soaking wet) and over to the Colosseum, where the living things became entertainment. The booty went to the Capitol on top of the hill to be stored.

Only one-third of the Colosseum is left but it doesn’t take too much imagination to see how immense it once was. Inside, standing at the fifty-yard line, there’s a giant Christian

Cross marking the halfway point of the arena floor. The gladiators/slaves would stand in the middle of the arena and wait, wondering from which part of the circle whatever it was they were going to have to fight was going to emerge. And, all the while, the spectators are cheering and jeering and falling down drunk, just like at a modern football game.

We saw the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain last night. Seeing these two marvels in the evening did not diminish their stature. What I recall about the Spanish Steps was that when you stand at the top of them and look down to the square where the fountain that Bernini made resembling a boat was, the red building to the right was where Keats died and across the street was where Byron lived. The Steps themselves are pretty impressive, what with zillions of people sitting on them, us included, like spectators at an outdoor auditorium. The shops at street level included Dior, Gucci and other high end retail places. Just down the street we went through what is considered the most lavish McDonalds on the planet. We skipped the burgers and fries but did walk through it to use the bathroom and agreed it was pretty lavish. From the Spanish Steps we hiked on over to the Trevi Fountain.

The Trevi Fountain is a very beautiful piece of larger than life art that has 24 little waterfalls (fountains) and about 6 giant statues representing the different forms of water (oceans) in it. Built by Nicola Salvi in 1762 for a pope to represent all forms of water, it is a place to see. Following tradition, we each turned around and tossed a penny over our shoulders into the Fountain for good luck. From there we walked down a side street, fell into a wonderful ristorante for supper, had a couple glasses of excellent wine with our meal and were surprised to find out it was close to 11:00 p.m. Time does fly when you’re having fun.

By the time we got back to our rooms and settled in for the night it was well after midnight. We learned the next day that Tim & Scott stopped in a pub on the way back that was broadcasting the Patriots game. They watched the last quarter of the Pats beating the Chiefs.


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