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Published: September 17th 2017
Geo: 41.8955, 12.4823
We started the day with a walk to the markets at Campo di Fiori. I wanted to pick up a few food items to take home and L needed to get a couple things for her surprise (work) trip to Paris on Friday. The open air market dominates the square and feels decidedly touristy, but it looked like locals were still stopping in for produce, if not for tri-color dried pasta. I was happy to find a scarf, some dried herbs, porcini and sun-dried tomatoes. The vendor suggested that I pack the tomatoes in oil when I get them home. Food for thought.
L found a couple really cute handbags which she bought. I found really cute handbags too, but opted to leave them on the shelf. Really enticing leather goods here. It takes a little time off the major thoroughfares to find shops that aren't Tourist Schlock From Hell, but it's a fun adventure. Of course, having just denigrated the tchotchke from the wagons, I think about the Hot Young Priests of Rome calendar. You can't buy that at the Vatican.
We started heading toward the Colosseum and found ourselves in the Jewish Ghetto (this is an actual historical area,
Arch of Constantine
Gorgeous both from the ground and up on the Colosseum. The rather disappointing audio guide told me that there are three arches and the one in the middle is the largest. These details I can figure out independently.
not a slur) which is home to a very large and beautiful synagogue. The synagogue is distinct from the many duomos on the Roman vista because its sides are slightly flattened. Departing the ghetto, we had to find our way around the ancient theater and a giant renovation project of the Portico d'Ottavia (Octavia's Porch). On a side note, when I googled how to spell the portico name, I found out that there used to be a restaurant serving Jewish food on NYC's East Side called Octavia's Porch. Interesting.
On to the Colosseum. We had seen it from various distances every day here so far, but had not quite made it inside. Today was the last day of our 3-day Roma pass which grants us free access through the fast lane. That was great. We also got the audio guide for 5.50 E. I probably wouldn't recommend that if you have a decent book. There are only 6 audio stops on the tour plus two or three other "bonus" tracks. Not really worth it, in my mind. There was a special exhibition on libraries and books on display that was interesting-- it included illustrations of famous libraries of antiquity, a discussion
of scrolls vs books and had some more statues.
The gladiator display wasn't as thorough as some others I've seen, but the epic scale of the events at the Colosseum is pretty mind-blowing. It sat about 65,000 people and was built in about 10 years (between 70-80 AD). Think about that. Underneath it had room for stage sets and a pulley system that allowed set pieces to be raised and lowered. Animals & criminals were also kept under there for their entrances on to the arena stage. Special farms were kept outside the city to raise the "wild" animals that would be brought into the city to either a) be hunted by gladiators for the entertainment of the crowd in an environment that simulated their land of origin or b) be released to slaughter unarmed people for entertainment. Sometimes there would be special events. For instance, at some point a whale washed up on Italian shores and this captured the popular imagination. The producers at the Colosseum had a fake whale built and when its mouth opened, 50 bears came out. L and I decided that Rome did it all, even better than Vegas. For scale and audacity, you really couldn't
In the Jewish Ghetto
Next on L's to-do list for her last day in the city was a trip to the Baths of Caracalla. These were created on a scale similar to that of the Colosseum and built circa 216 AD. This complex was enormous and more than 6,000 people per day could bathe and recreate here. There are still a few mosaics to see on site, but mostly it is a series of towering ruins that make you shake your head at the grandeur of what this spectacle must have looked like. It's said that 13,000 slaves were used just to level the site.
Dinner was at a place near our hotel named Dilla. We enjoyed a tuna tartare and avocado appetizer. L had a salad with salmon. I had pasta with clams and fish roe. The guys on either side of us both got the octopus, served whole. We enjoyed reading some of the Reviews from the Clueless online before we went. It's really funny to read about people who think cuddlefish is disgusting and then they order cuddlefish and complain about how much they don't like it. It was a good thing that we stuck close to home as a
The area in the center housed the criminals, animals and stagehands during events. The audio guide told us that "arena" means "sand" for the sand that covered the floor to soak up all the blood. Good Roman fun.
rainstorm moved in soon after we returned to the hotel. Tomorrow: a day trip to Florence.
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