Just getting to the Colosseum was a challenge, despite the fact that we had been in the area before. We managed to make at least one wrong turn because the street signs are worse than awful, and were directed back to the proper road by a very nice military guy who spoke English and had just redirected the group of three ahead of us. We had paid in advance and got to skip the 'buy tickets' line, but were stunned to get no information or map of any kind at the entrance. We looked in the bookshops and asked about a map -- our choice was to rent an audio tour which came with a map or buy a 10 Euro book with WAY more info than we needed. I finally remembered I had gotten a Lonely Planet Italy book from Amazon, so I downloaded that and got some clues about what we were looking at. If ever there was a place to have a tour guide, this was it. SO much to see and not nearly as many descriptive signs as you would hope to find.
The real name of this place is the Flavius Amphitheater. Colosseum comes from the Colosus of Nero, a huge statue added later. It had trap doors and 80 winches to move sets, animals, and people into the arena, which was covered with sand to be a better surface for fighting and to soak up the blood. Events were usually all-day with many parts including prisoners or free soldiers fighting each other or wild animals. Death sentences were carried out by releasing naked defenseless prisoners in the arena with wild animals. You can imagine the result.
|Painting of what the amphitheater looked like|
above and below ground when it was active.
|An outer walkway -- looks like a modern arena.|
|From the outer hallway to the opposite side|
|The flat white part is a recreation of the arena floor. The parallel|
walls are where prisoners, animals, and sets were kept.
|Closer view of the underground|
|Looking over the damaged walls to the Forum|
|Horse sculpture at the amphitheater|
|The Arch of Constantine|
From the Colosseum, we exited and crossed a road that gave on to Palatine Hill and the Forum with the same ticket, which good for two days. We walked around Palatine Hill and took in the views. Myth says that this is the hill where Romulus founded Rome after killing his twin, Remus. There is evidence of habitation since 800 BC. This was also where the emperor lived along with other important people. After the Empire fell, it was used by other very rich folks and sometimes turned into gardens.
|Part of a wall on the road up to the entrance. I found the bricks|
sticking out at an angle to be intriguing.
|The Arch of Titus, a main entrance to Palatine Hill and the Forum.|
|The buildings here were mostly gone, parts stolen for more|
modern building efforts.
|The Nyphaeum of the Mirrors, a kind of fountain.|
|Notice the crack in the wall. Earthquakes had a big impact here.|
|The marble floor here has rippled badly, perhaps due to|
|Looking over the edge of the hill to the rest of Rome|
|An elliptical nymphaeum|
|Colosseum and Arch of Titus from Palatine overlooking the Forum|
|Temple of Antonius and Faustina|
|Temple of Romulus|
Lunch at a nearby pizza place was refreshing and then we searched out the starting point for our English-language tour in Palazzo Valentini, which had come highly recommended by Lodo.
|Three views of Trajan's Forum|
But what really made this extraordinary was the light show that highlighted and at times recreated the original look. It is quite different to look at the remains of things and partial mosaics and have the brought back to life with clever lighting. It ended with a movie about Trajan's Column, which we had seen and photographed earlier -- I was quite taken by the bas-relief etched in a spiral around the pillar. We discovered that the carvings were the story of Trajan's conquests in the Dacian Wars. It is large enough inside to be hollow for an internal staircase.
|Trajan's Column above and detail below.|
We walked home looking for the hardware/home goods store I had seen yesterday, hoping to find a long Italian style rolling pin for pasta, like a shorter version of the one Francesca used in Pittino Monday. We found the store, but their rolling pins were even narrower than the one I already had, so we gave it up.
|Ci is pronounce Chi. Pranzo is lunch, Cena|
is dinner. Interesting combination.