Tuesday - Coliseum Tour

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October 9th 2013
Published: October 9th 2013
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Cujo 1Cujo 1Cujo 1

There's also another black one who looks just like this one.
I awoke feeling much better after 24 hours of coughing, sneezing, chills and a fever. We were more than disappointed to hear the Sox didn't win game 3 of the playoffs, but Koji did his best. We hope Peavy comes through on game 4.

Our not so friendly neighborhood dogs were outside and were kind enough to stick their heads through the hedge so we could photograph them. We got the 9:36 train into Rome, taking note of the black clouds all around as we walked to the local station. Rain was forecasted, we were armed with raincoats and an umbrella but still hoping it would be a quick morning storm then clear. We took the FR3 line, changed to the blue Metro line and getting off at the Coliseo station. The meeting place for our guided tour was just outside the station, opposite the Coliseum. We had signed up for the tour that included the upper level and dungeons...the area under the arena floor. Because there had already been one good rain storm and more predicted, the Roman officials closed the upper and lower levels of the Coliseum to visitors...great...no refund and if we wanted to still see those
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their brown brother!!!
areas, we'd have to pay for the whole tour again and hope for better weather. Well that sucks. Our very nice guide apologized profusely and promised she'd give us all the info about those levels, we'd just miss out on seeing them up close.

We crossed the busy street following our guide like baby ducks. We waited while she exchanged our tickets and then started walking along the first corridor (there are 3) inside the exterior wall of the coliseum, bypassing all the people in line waiting to buy tickets to enter. Hard to imagine the entire coliseum was walled in travertine, walls and ceiling covered in frescos, marble statues, bronze ornamentations....all these are gone...pillaged or as our guide said "recycled". After the fall of the Roman empire, only 90,000, down from over a million, people lived in Rome. They stole all that was valuable from the Coliseum and reused it elsewhere...some frescos have been recovered but all else is lost.

Scaffolding was being erected along the outside wall of the coliseum...Diego della Valle, head of the shoe company Tod's, is sponsoring a €25 million restoration effort. The white travertine, now black from years of pollution, will be cleaned. It has taken two years to get to this point to ensure nothing of historical importance will be damaged during the restoration. It is preferred that restoration experts will do the work not just the local power washing crew.

We climbed 3 flights of stairs to the second level....one level above where the Roman Emperor, Senators and other royalty would have sat. They were seated closest to the floor with the Emperor being (if you imagine the Coliseum as an oval football field) at the 50 yard line. He had the best vantage point to see all that was happening. Before any gladiator could be killed, an okay (as the saying goes, thumbs up or down) had to be received from either the Emperor (if in attendance) or the people. If any of the Vestal Virgins were in the Coliseum, the gladiator was automatically saved. Gladiators were paid professionals, having their own residential complex, training facility and were popular with the ladies....they had reputations as excellent lovers....who knew!!!! Gladiators who were allowed to live became very wealthy and respected citizens of Rome.

We then went down to the first level. The weather was now blue sky and
Outside the ColiseumOutside the ColiseumOutside the Coliseum

you can see a small portion of scaffolding in the upper left
sunny and a tour group had been allowed onto the partially reconstructed floor. Our guide called the office to see if we would be allowed to the dungeon area and upper level seeing as the threat of rain had passed. The answer was no but at least she tried. The dungeon area didn't exist when the arena was first built, this enabled the staging of sea battles by flooding the arena which was estimated to have taken 3 days to do. According to historical documents, the sea battles were ended after only 4 years, then the dungeons were built, in various stages. There are several levels which housed props, caged wild animals and the gladiators awaiting their time on stage. There were over 70 trap doors in the floor, door opening up and out for the Gladiators and props, doors opening down to provide a ramp for the animals to come on stage.

We left the Coliseum and headed to the Roman Forum...this was the home of the Senate meeting place, temples of Saturn and Venus, the tomb of Cesar, palace of the Vestal Virgins and home of the "zero" mile....where all roads really did lead to Rome with
Dungeons of the ColiseumDungeons of the ColiseumDungeons of the Coliseum

the floor at the far end is a reconstruction of the original wooden floor that was covered with sand. The area beneath held the animals and gladiators.
the exception of the Appian Way. The tomb of Cesar is there but nearly completely destroyed.

Behind the Forum is the Palatine Hill where Roman Emperors lived, complete with gardens (although not much to look at now) a separate palace for the emperor's wife....just a huge complex of palaces that we visited only briefly because we were so tired. We need to go back to see the rest...the complex goes all along one side of Forum and continues along the entire length of Circus Maximus and we missed that part completely.

Our guide had told us there were some good places for lunch past the far side of the Coliseum so we walked to that area. We found a bar/deli that had good food, reasonably priced and tables so we could finally sit down and relax. It was a short walk back to the metro but we got messed up, ended heading in the wrong direction, got off, got back on headed for home....aye aye aye...what a royal pain....in the feet!!!!

Dinner was steak, veggies, mashed potatoes. Freddie was sneezing up a storm....looks like he's finally got Deb's cold....poor guy. We're out early tomorrow for the Vatican tour...hope he feels better.

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


Interior of the ColiseumInterior of the Coliseum
Interior of the Coliseum

the white marble seats would have been on all levels except for the top tier...those were wooden. When the travertine seats were removed, it caused the tiers to erode and eventually collapse.
Outside of ColiseumOutside of Coliseum
Outside of Coliseum

You can clearly see the three layers of outside walls. Each entry portal was numbered and every Roman family was given a piece of stone with their portal number, tier and seat.
Roman ForumRoman Forum
Roman Forum

the Senate met in the building to the far right.
Church in the Roman ForumChurch in the Roman Forum
Church in the Roman Forum

If you look between the middle pillars you can see a green door. That used to be the street level.
Rooftop view from the Palatine HillRooftop view from the Palatine Hill
Rooftop view from the Palatine Hill

this shot gives you a better view of the rooftop gardens in Rome.
New and oldNew and old
New and old

I tried to show how the Roman ruins are a part of the city. In many areas, they were built upon by succeeding rulers of the Roman empire, so as areas are excavated, they find layers of ruins from different dynasties.
The ColiseumThe Coliseum
The Coliseum

as seen from the Palatine Hill.
Lunch at La Follia on Via Capo d'AfricaLunch at La Follia on Via Capo d'Africa
Lunch at La Follia on Via Capo d'Africa

There are a bunch of places to eat at on the far side of the Coliseum...worth walking the few extra blocks to get away from the tourist traps. This was a small bar and deli that served pasta, sandwiches, etc. We had ham and cheese Panini...dessert is a cannoli dipped in chopped pistachios.

9th October 2013

Enjoying your blogs, vicariously being there; appreciate that you're using public transportation. Can't blame the big dogs for just doing their jobs. Will you visit the Guzzi factory ? - way more important than the Vatican.

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