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Published: July 10th 2014
There are so many beautiful things to see in Rome, we had to fit just a few of them into our last day. Thanks to Carla and Willy, we had figured out the Metro, so after breakfast we headed around the corner to the subway station, boarded the train and were at the Coliseum in just a few minutes.
Thankfully, we arrived before the crowds. After displaying our Roma Pass and renting a voice tour machine and map, we were on our way. Once inside the Coliseum, you realize just how massive it is. The present building has been stripped of many of its marble, stone, columns, ornamentations and statues throughout the years, but you can still imagine what a glorious place it once was.
Building began on the stadium in the year 70 A.D., 9 years before Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii. It could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 people. In fact, it is the largest amphitheater in the world. It was used for hunts, battles, depictions of mythological stories, executions. gladiator fights and could be flooded to portray sea battles. It has been used since then as housing for a religious order, Christian shrine, quarry for newer buildings, and
public housing. There was even apparatus in place to hoist a cloth roof on sunny days to shield the masses from the heat or rain.
Touring it, you also realize it was next to the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill (where the wealthiest lived in villas), shrines, the Circus Maximus where chariot races were held, and the extravagant Farnese Gardens...which I had never heard of, but was in awe of the remains of the building.
After experiencing the Coliseum tour, we got to hear an impromptu band concert by the Rome Police Band. They were very good! I will embed a short video I captured before a lady invaded my personal space and knocked me aside. I seem to have a wider sense of personal space than many people I encountered on my travels.
We walked across the street and wandered around Palatine Hill to see remnants of some of the palaces and public buildings of the forum, Farnese Gardens and the Circus Maximus. I wish they were in better shape, but you can still imagine the glory of Ancient Rome.
After boarding a bus, we rode until we got as close to the Pantheon as we
could on public transportation. The map we had gave us more of an approximation to where sites were than actual addresses, so sometimes we found cool things while trying to reach our destinations.
We stopped for lunch at a shady sidewalk cafe that included a light mist spray to keep the guests cool and comfy. I had lasagna and Chuck had pizza and bruschetta. We also scored with Coke Light (Diet Coke in Europe) with a much coveted glass of ice!!! We were in heaven!!
Once fortified from our feast, we headed toward the Pantheon.
Of all the buildings we visited, I would have to say that the Pantheon was my favorite. It is one of the only buildings of Ancient Rome that wasn't taken apart or destroyed. If you want to imagine ancient glorious buildings, the Pantheon is an authentic experience to be sure.
If you don't know anything about the Pantheon, it was built by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus sometime before Christ. In the year 80, it was destroyed by a fire, and was rebuilt by Hadrian around the year 110. It has been in continuous use since. It's original purpose
was a worship place for all of the Gods, and since Rome was a melting pot of a vast empire, there were a lot of them to worship! In 609, it became a Catholic Church.
Our next adventure was a little gruesome, but very interesting. We hopped in a taxi and went to the Capuchin Crypt. It comprises several small chapels decorated entirely with the bones of 3,700 Capuchin Monks. We couldn't take pictures, so I will include a couple of photos that I downloaded so you might see what it was like. It was very somber, and not meant to be macabre, but a reminder of how brief life can be.
We really wanted to have a romantic last night, so we made our way back to the hotel, cleaned up and headed for the Spanish Steps. The night breeze was gentle and refreshing. Lights were coming on and the residents were getting out for their nightly stroll. The neighborhood around the Spanish Steps was fun to walk. No traffic, lots of shady spots, friendly people, fantastic shops, music, sidewalk cafes, gelato shops, fountains, statues, churches, plazas...it was a memorable stroll. We passed the Trevi Fountain (famous
for "Three Coins in the Fountain"), but it had been drained and was under renovation.
A local restaurant that was packed had an outside table leaving, so we jumped in and had a wonderful meal. We enjoyed some Spritzes, wine and wonderful pasta. Chuck ordered Carbonara and I asked for what I thought was Spaghetti Bolognese, but got tasty Lasagna Bolognese instead. A man stood nearby playing music on his accordian, and the romantic stage was set for a perfect dinner.
We ventured back around the Spanish Steps, climbed up behind them and enjoyed the view of Rome lit up for the night. It was beautiful.
When we got on the Metro to return to our hotel, some kids were invading my personal space again, and I reached down and grabbled the little bugger's hand which was in my pocket trying to get my wallet. I happened to have squirreled my wallet in a velcro pouch out of reach, so he didn't get anything... but beware of pickpockets if you visit!
We had a wonderful time in Rome...and a beautiful trip full of adventures, different cultures, new friends and experiences to last a lifetime.
hope you have enjoyed reading this blog. I have had a blast writing it!