Thursday, December 22, 2016

12/22 -- Ruins and More Ruins, Oh My!

Today was ruin day -- the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, The Roman Forum, and Palazzo Valentini. Although they are all in the same general area, I walked in excess of 20,000 steps so far (before dinner).

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
an earthquake.

Looking over the edge of the hill to the rest of Rome

An elliptical nymphaeum

Surviving mosaics
Finally, we headed down into the Forum and totally OD-ed on ruins. This was a central hub of Rome and had lots of shops, temples, and other public spaces.

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

I was stilled ruined-out, but this was a totally different and fabulous experience (but no photos allowed). We started off walking down a glass stair case over some excavated ruin steps -- VERY weird -- and most of the time, we walked on glass floors that gave us a view of the ruins below. In the process of excavating under and existing building, they had discovered the remains of a large (possibly over 30,000 sq. ft) mansion with a swimming pool, sauna equivalent, and icing pool, along with other rooms and part of a street.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment