Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rome: Day 3

As soon as we excited the subway the Colosseum was directly in front of us. The weather was fantastic and really made me ache for Spring.

I can't believe all of the ancient ruins. The Coloseum was used as a cultural experience in it's heyday some 2000 years ago. People would go for entertainment to see humans fighting humans and humans fighting animals. The animals would not be fed for days before the fights. Often times the gladiators would be injured and plead for mercy. Those who were permitted to stop fighting would often die from their wounds.

The Colosseum itself was constructed with steps on various levels and those were the seats. A person's status would denote where they were to sit, with women sitting at the very top. The façade was a combination of marble and plaster to make it appear white, which made it an example of the people's wealth. What's so impressive is the engineering and design. It still serves as the model for stadiums and arenas around the world.

We opted to go on an English tour, which was interesting. We were surprised to learn that a lot of materials were taken from the Colosseum and used for various other buildings in Rome, including St. Peter's Basilica. We also learned many of the smaller holes contained wood beams, which disintegrated due to time.

Many people claim there were water battles at the Colosseum, however it's not known if that was true. According to our guide, who was officially with the Colosseum, it appears as though that was mentioned in some kind of ancient document, however it's not known exactly which Colosseum was being referred to. There were several others in the area and closer to the Circus Maximus.

There were so many interesting details and it was so fascinating to look things and wonder about. The shapes and lines were striking and the newer additions, such as a cat who made itself at home somehow seemed fitting.

There was also a beautiful view from the Colosseum looking towards the Forum Romanum and the Arch of Constantine. There's so much to see in this compact area.

The Forum Romanum was the hub of faith, justice, and economics. It's so incredible that these ruins date back to
The only reason many of them were preserved was because they were marked with a cross and converted from pagan worship sights to Christian churches. The Forum dates back to the times of Julius Caesar between 100 BC and 44 BC! That's so incredible.

Near by is also the modern center of government at the Capitoline Hill, which was in part designed by Michelangelo. It was so exciting to see Romulus and Remus, the feral children founders of Rome in the Statue of the Capitoline Wolf.

The Palantine Hill and Circus Maximus are also very close. This is the area where they would have chariot races... and now it's an open field. It was somewhat strange to see people going for a run on the ruins, but I understand life has to go on - and there's not much left anyway.

We went to visit the secret key hole, which is in such a beautiful area. The 'Giardino degli Aranci' at the top of the Aventine Hill is definitely also worth a stop. I don't want to completely spoil the secret, but I will say you have to walk until you see the Egpytian and more importantly Maltese Consulates. In front of the Maltese Consulate is the door (Priorato di Malta). You will probably be slightly taken aback once you see military men with machine guns, but just walk past. There will most likely be a line of people, but it's such an incredible sight. It's something you can only capture with your eye.

For dinner we considered going to the Sora Margherita (association restaurant), however we also wanted to sample what's been hailed as the best pizza in Rome. We went to check both restaurants out, which was quite a hike, but ultimately our decision was swayed by a combination of tired feet and Italians Grandmas.

We read that we would need to be very prompt and that doors opened at 6:30PM. As soon as we arrived there were three Italian Grandmas knocking on the door and trying to get the owner's attention. We knew that was a good sign. Not long after a line began to form. Through the windows we could see the men loading up the wood fired oven and getting things ready for what I presume is a standard evening. After Signore Baffetto opened the doors people were ushered in. Since we were second in line we picked a table directly next to the oven so we could watch them work.

It took no time for the restaurant to fill and for another line to form. I loved the unpretentious realness. It felt like we were sitting in someone's kitchen, our pitcher of wine was chipped, and there were many drawings and photos hanging on the walls. Signore Baffetto didn't care if you didn't speak or understand Italian - he just kept rattling on. We quickly ordered and ate our pizzas and then decided to order more. The man making our pizzas looked puzzled and asked our waiter something. He looked at our table and then we heard 'quatro'. Evidently two people don't typically order 4 pizzas. The French couple next to us was slightly nerved when we received our second round of pizzas and paid before they had even gotten their first order. I also have to mention once things picked up a second pizza maker came in and he had that raspy Italian voice you always hear on movies. It seemed so fitting. The grand total for 4 pizzas, sparkling water, and a half liter of wine - less than 50€!

We took our left overs back to our apartment for a quick breakfast the next day. On our walk home we stopped at a bakery and enjoyed some Amaretti cookies. I really need to get a good recipe from my Italian classmate.

We knew it would be really difficult to leave on our last day.


JoernandAllison said...

Wow, every entry is better and better :) I guess the pizzas were great if you both ordered more! And poo to those who were upset!

I remember what an incredible sight the colusseum was in Verona, and can only imagine what the one in Rome is like. It seems so amazing that something so old, historical, and large can exist in the middle of a modern, bustling city. In a way, it is nice to see how these ancient treasures are incorporated into modern life.

I'm going to copy and print your Rome entries. You've done such an excellent job of logging all sorts of incredible information on Rome!

Bluefish said...

I like your t-shirt!