Today was the second day of my stay in Rome. After the first day, things could not get much worse, so today was much better. I woke up early, contrary to what I thought would happen, and went down to breakfast. Il Rosario has two breakfast rooms, where they have all kinds of jams set out to go with large rolls, orange juice, and coffee. After two rolls and orange juice, I went out for the day, armed with my map.
In less than ten minutes walk, I was at the Colosseum. This was first on my list for the day, so I went down to the entrance and got in free with my Rome Pass. I spent the next hour or so wandering around. People do not realize how truly huge the Colosseum is until they have been there. I cannot imagine building the structure. There were exhibits inside on all the different kinds of gladiators that fought there, together with some artifacts that were recovered from inside the Colosseum.
After I had seen everything I could, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill ruins were next on the list to see. The entrance was right by the
Colosseum, so only a short walk later, and I was among the ruins. The number of ruins, the beauty of the stonework, and the sheer amount of marble used was quite amazing. The place could use some interpretive signs so that poor wandering visitors would know what some of the places are, but thankfully there were signs directing which way was the exit, so I did not get lost. I am sure that work is always going on there, with digs, stabilization of the ruins, etc but there was a lot of equipment out and some metal fences newly put up, so I wondered if some major enhancement project had just been started. I spent until about 12:30 hiking all over the site.
But eventually enough people came that it was time to leave. Plus, I had seen just about everything, so time to move on to the Pantheon. Now that I had a map, it was so much easier to find things, even if the street names were unpronounceable and many names looked the same. The Pantheon is all by itself, with no ruins around it, just shops. I approached it from the back, so it was probably
not as impressive as it could have been when I first walked up to it, but once inside, it was quite impressive. It had been converted into a church, so the beauty that was already there had been added to with sumptuously decorated altars, religious statues, and even a miniature pipe organ. Even the though the Colosseum had been impressive, the Pantheon was now in the lead for my favorite place in Rome.
I walked around and tried to find a Rick Steves-recommended eating place near the Pantheon, but finally gave up, bought a large piece of pizza and a container of water from a place not far from the Pantheon, and lunched on the Pantheon porch, next to one of the pillars. Watching the expressions of people walking up to the Pantheon and seeing the inside for the first time was amusing.
After finishing lunch, I took the Metro back to Termini Station, and went to the National Museum of Rome, which is close by the train station. The museum was also free, courtesy of the Rome Pass (the Pantheon is free for everyone). Here I had to have a strategy. It is different walking around a
historic site than a museum, to me, because in an outdoor site once you have seen everything, that is it. In a museum, there are not just artifacts and with a lot more information than is typically presented in an outdoor historic site, there can also be artistic treasures to admire from different angles and in different ways that cannot be stored outside, like paintings and statues. At least, valuable paintings and statues should not be stored outside. So with all the sculptures and other art pieces that I knew would be in the National Museum, plus many other museums in Europe, I made the decision that I would not read most of the accompanying information. There is just not enough time to admire the art form and read all about it. Of course, one has to read what it is, but I decided I would not have time enough for reading the whole background to each piece. So I actually moved fairly fast, or at least faster than I typically do in a museum. But back to what was in the museum.
There were a lot of sculptures. No, a LOT of sculptures. So many that eventually I
got sculptured out, and started looking for other things. They had a really neat exhibit on a dead child’s tomb that had been excavated, and what they were able to learn from the culture based on what was buried with the child. There was also a fabulous coin collection downstairs that covered practically the entire history of that region, from when coins first were used up through the 1900s. There were also areas dedicated to frescoes and tapestries which were quite amazing. The amount of detail on the mosaics that they had was awesome, there were these huge mosaics that filled up whole walls which were composed of nothing more than little tiny pieces of colored rock or glass or something.
So I spent all afternoon in the National Museum, then took the Metro back to Il Rosario, and went to bed early, knowing that tomorrow with everything at the Vatican would be long. By now I have started to figure out how to apply my Spanish skills to Italian in some ways, at least to counting, which has been helpful. The one Italian word I learned while in Rome I learned today, which is “grazie.”
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