Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Buon Giorno Roma, Italy!

June 10
We arrived in Roma , Italy!   
Our Guest House, Profuma Hotels, is just down the street com the Colosseum.  When I look out the window of our room, there it is in all its ancient glory!!

Front of the Profuma Hotel
 After checking in, Vince and I wandered down the street, seeking a bite to eat.  We settled in at the Royal Cafe, just across the street from the Colosseum.  Vince ordered pizza (of course), which was wonderful.
We walked around the Colosseum a bit then returned to our room for a good night's sleep.

Vince outside the Colosseum
Colosseum view from Royal Cafe
Constantine's Triumphal Arch--commemorating his victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312

The Arch of Titus is a 1st-century honorific arch. This was the model for many other arches. 
 The photos that follow are from the ruins of the Foro Della Pace or the Forum of Peace.  Vince and I marveled at the columns (you can see them lying down in the photos).  They are quite large and some of them are a single piece of marble. 

The following day we had a morning tour of the Colosseum scheduled.  One of the most interesting facts I learned is that the holes in the Colosseum were caused by the removal of the bronze clamps.  These were removed so that other statues and metal objects could be made.  The same is true of all of the marble from the Colosseum.  It was removed to be used in other buildings in Rome.  
You can see the large holes in the columns and walls
Standing inside the Colosseum, looking down into the arena was amazing.  To think that ancient Romans stood in the same spot, preparing to watch their version of entertainment, was mind blowing!  If I was very quiet, I could imagine hearing the shouts of the gladiators, the cries of the prisoners, the roars of the animals. 

Inside of the arena.  The floor of the arena is missing, you can see into the underground area.
left side view of arena

right side view of arena

Colette standing outside the Colosseum

The myth of the "thumbs up and thumbs down" gesture being used here was explained by our tour guide, Salvadore.  He said that this gesture was not used by the audience to tell the emperor whether or not to kill someone.  Rather, it was an open handed, spread fingered gesture used by the emperor to indicate his wish to cut the jugular of a participant.  He hand was moved from shoulder downward, with the thumb down, indicating a cutting motion.  Also, gladiators were not killed on purpose, as they were professionals and killing them was a waste of money!

We also toured the Roman Forum and Palintine Hill.  The ruins which remain, coupled with my own knowledge and Salvadore's explanations, allowed me to float back in time and see the Romans going about their daily business in the Forum.  
We also saw the supposed spot where Julius Caesar was cremated after he was killed,  March 15, 44BC.  Every year, Roma celebrates this assassination.  I would like to find a reading selection to use to honor that event.  

Palintine Hill is a labyrinth of ruins of the palace and buildings where the emperor resided.  By the time Vince and I finished trekking around the ruins of this ancient city, we were quite ready for a rest.  I ,unfortunately, started out the morning with a headache, which due to heat and exercise and not enough water, bloomed into quite a sick headache by the time the tour was over.  We stopped for a bite to eat, and headed back to Profumo for a rest.  After two Advil and a 3 hour nap, I felt much better. However, by this time, Vince was sleeping, so I rolled over and awoke at midnight!  Thus ended our first day in Rome! 
Ruins of Roman Forum

Location of Julius Caesar's cremation

Ruins of Roman Forum
 The second day in Rome, we walked down to the Circus Maximus, which is nothing more than a field in a valley, with obvious ruins.  Not much remains of this chariot racetrack of the ancients, just the suggestion of the idea.
Circus Maximus

Circus Maximus

Circus Maximus

Vince looking over field that once was the Circus Maximus!

 We continued our walk around the city, enjoying the parks and the architecture.  The buildings are a mix of old and new, a beautiful blend of styles.  We found one park full of rose bushes, which provided us with an overlook that spread the city out in front of us!  Not only was it beautiful, but the height enabled a wonderfully cool breeze to blow.

View of Rome

View of Rome

Views of Rome

Tiber River
Altare della Patria, also known as the 'wedding cake' monument

 The Altare della Patria monument is the largest monument in white marble.  It is visible from many areas of Rome due to its squarish shape and the whiteness of the marble.  The monument was controversial since its construction destroyed a large area of the Capitoline Hill with a Medieval neighborhood for its sake.  It does, however, house the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

Finding a taxi in Rome is very easy, and armed with the address of a recommended fabric store, we were off again.  The Fratelli Basetti was everything the review said it was and more.  There were rooms and rooms and rooms of fabric stacked on floor to ceiling shelves.  I used my limited Italian to ask "Parli inglese?" And received the answer of "po" which means "a little bit".  The magic of fabric is that it is a universal language.  Vince and I pulled out several bolts of lovely Italian cottons and managed to choose 4 that coordinated well.  I have been purchasing half meters to save some costs, but one of my choices had a pattern that repeated every meter.  Vince agreed with me that purchasing a meter was justified!  Woot!

Thought this fabric was funny.

 I now have fabrics from:  Hawaii (along with some Japanese prints),  Australia (aboriginal prints), Thailand and Italy.  Vince and I checked the Internet and found fabric shops in Zurich and Garmisch for the next leg of our journey.

From the fabric store, we walked over to the Pantheon.  On the way, we spotted the Elephant and the Obelisk!  This is a sculpture designed by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

elephant with obelisk
side view of elephant
We also saw many of these monks 'balancing' on street corners!

The Roman Pantheon is the most preserved and influential building of ancient Rome. It is a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods of pagan Rome.

Side of Pantheon

Front of Pantheon

Fountain in Pantheon square

Square outside Pantheon

Square outside Pantheon

Inside Pantheon

Front of Church
A little more walking and we found this beautiful church.  The Church of St Ignazio is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to Ignatius of Loyola, who was the founder of the Society of Jesus. 

Center of ceiling

Ceiling Frescos


 The church was unexpected, but extremely beautiful and peaceful inside.  It is hard to imagine actually being able to attend services in such an ornate place.  This church dates from the 1600's, and this was the style of church building and decorating in  Rome at the time; I am so amazed at its continued existence and beauty. 

A short walk later, along with a pizza and some gelato, we come upon the famous Trevi Fountain. Much to our surprise, there was no water in the fountain!  Rome is undergoing major repairs and cleaning to many of the historic buildings and monuments.  Trevi Fountain is just one more piece of history receiving a facelift!  It is still very beautiful. 

Next, we visited Vatican City. 

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