Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chris' vacation blog

So I decided that I would keep a blog of our trip separate from Noel's. Probably makes for some redundancy, but oh well.

Day 1: Rome – Plane landed about 9:30 AM local time. It took until noon to disembark, collect baggage,
Find the right bus and get to hostel Peter Pan. From there we made our way to the metro via a bus, (getting on the wrong bus and getting lost first), that sounded like it could fall apart any minute (incidentally all the buses sound like this). Then we made our way to the Colosseum and Palatine Hill, which includes the Circus Maximus, Arch of Augustus, Arch of Titus, Casa de Augustus and other ruins. Palatine Hill contains a huge complex of ruins. It was basically the seat of power of the Late Republic and Empire until the East/West split. Anything of importance happened here. Emperors were created here as well as monsters, allegiances were forged and broken, bought and sold, and wars were started and finished here. Marc Antony took Brutus to task and silenced the final cries of the Republic on Palatine Hill. Nero razed Rome to the ground and rebuilt it here. The 5 benevolent emperors rebuilt Rome for the people here, starting with the Forum Romanum. Trajan’s Column is also here. I wish I could have seen it when Trajan’s likeness was on top. It was replaced with the image of a pope in medieval times. The Circus Maximus and the Stadium next to it are in pretty bad shape. The Casa de Augustus is in pretty decent shape given its age. It’s kind of amusing in a way, but the house isn’t all that big compared to what we consider large homes for important people now. Among some recent excavations on the Palatine include a complex which could have been the birthplace of Octavian. It is a series of courtyards and domiciles which, given its location would have belonged to only the most wealthy and influential of the time. From records of the era, it is known that Julius Caesar and Octavian’s mother and stepfather lived here. After the Palatino, we hit the Colosseum. It is an enormous complex and very imposing to gaze upon. It is about the interior size of a hockey arena. The outside looks like the Roman Aqueduct turned into a circle, 3 levels of arches. As you walk in you can feel anticipation in the air. I think that anyone visiting is immediately thrown under a spell of awe, it definitely feels that way. There are two walkways separated by columns punctuated on the inner ring by stairs leading up to the seats, and down to the lower levels which are off limits. They have displays of sculptures and busts of people associated with the gladiatorial games as well as a series of displays of gladiatorial armor and weapons. They also have the inaugural epigraph of the arena on display which was removed during restoration after an earthquake about 500 years after its initial construction. The Colosseum only took 10 years to build according to information on sight and upon it opening there were 100 consecutive days of games. Today was absolutely amazing! It sent chills up my spine to interact with history like that. Walking pathways that have been trod by emperors and senators, touching the walls of the Colosseum where so many have died and many more have cheered. Today a dream of mine came true. I picked up a piece of marble from the Colosseum and took it with me, my own little piece of history. It was truly one of the most fantastic experiences of my life.
After the Colosseum, we tried to find a certain restaurant we had a magazine write-up on, but couldn’t find it. We ended up on a side street in a yuppie part of town, but did find a roadside artist who made some pretty cool jewelry out of ordinary household items. We ended up eating at a roadside café outside the Termini metro station. We shared spaghetti made with a tomato base, bacon and sheep’s milk cheese and tiramisu ice cream for dessert. It was delicioso. I also had gelato twice today and holy shit was it good! I am looking forward to a good night’s sleep tonight as I’m exhausted and the plan is to get up early tomorrow.

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