Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 1, Rome

We arrived in Rome in the morning, and managed to get to the hostel
with minimal difficulty. Checking in, we were asked to wait while the
room was finished. This gave us time to meet the building's true
owners- two cats and a couple of orphaned kittens who had been adopted.
Like all Roman homes, from what Ive seen, the hostel utilizes every
spare inch of space for plants and flowers. Before long, we were
settled into a comfortable little room with 2 twin mattresses pushed
together to make a king bed, a second set of bunk beds, a wardrobe and
a desk. The desk sits under a big window overlooking the next door
alley. But unlike an American alley, this is yet another greenspace,
full of grass and the poppies that grow wild here.
A nap beckoned, but we headed out anyway. Following the directions
that the hostel operator gave us, we headed to the Colosseum,
intending to see part of it and the Templo di Diana.
There is a Metro station right by the Colosseum, and when you walk out
you're immediately greeted by the Circus Maximus. It is a fallen giant
now, overgrown with greenery, but it's bones remain and they are awe-
inspiring. We walked past it, under pines older than my nation, and up
to the Palatino. It was our first real taste of Old Rome- the tiny
rooms we can only assume were cells, the foundations of what's
believed to be Augustus' birthplace. Cobbled path trod by Senators and
slaves, fallen pillars like the bones of giants. When we came out into
the sunlight again, we were greeted by a cat atop a ruin- soon to be a
familiar sight, as Rome is apparently owned by cats. I took pictures
of the view before we turned a corner and stood beneath the Arch of
Titus. It was amazing. They are called Triumphal Arches, built to
commemorate great victories- Titus's was over the Northern (Germanic?)
tribes- and around the corner was the greatest of them. The Arch of
Augustus, the very first and largest of the Triumphal Arches,
commemorates Augustus Octavian's victory over Marc Antony and Queen
Cleopatra. His general for that campaign, Marcus Agrippa, is also who
oversaw the construction of the Pantheon.
In the same square is the Colosseum, a truly massive feat of human
engineering- and brutality. We walked through it, marveling at the
steps trod by hundreds of thousands of Roman sandals as they watched
day after day of Festival celebrations, gladiator battles, and
executions. The bloodthirstiness of it appeals on one level and repels
on another- the games sometimes lasted weeks on end, sponsored by the
Emperor, and the Colosseum itself held thousands. The main level,
where the sands once were, gave me the chills at the thought of all
the men and women who had stepped onto those sands to fight and die.
Chris loved it, grinning like a kid and climbing on the pillars (there
are places it's allowed).
On leaving the Colosseum, we paused a moment for me to fuss over the
carriage horses, but €120 for a ride is a little out of our budget-
so I settled for fussing and enjoying the warm scent of horse on my
We wandered the Palatino grounds a little longer, enjoying the

We tried to walk to the Templo di Diana, but when we finally found it,
it turned out to be the VIA de Templo di Diana. In other words, the
temple was long gone, and an apartment building stood in it's place.
The lintel is still there, though. Wide and low and dark. I wanted to
go in, but settled for touching it.
So we headed back toward the Metro, and after an amusingly
unsuccessful attempt at finding a place I'd read about for dinner, had
dinner just outside Statzioni Termini- an amazing pasta amatriciana,
with bacon and sheeps milk cheese. A not amazing gelato and an hour
later and we stumbled, exhausted, home to our hostel and Chris fell
asleep while I uploaded pictures and washed clothes in the sink.

Our room in Peter Pan Hostel

The view from our room
The Circus Maximus alongside a highway

Outside the Palatino Complex

Arch of Constantine from the Palatino complex

The cats own Rome. Seriously. Trust me on this.

The Arch of Titus:


Roman graffiti:

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