Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Day Seven: Rome

Okay, so Rome is growing on me.  Very quickly.  I still prefer the elegant beauty of Venice, but Rome has so much rich history.

Went to the Colliseum today.  Like everyone else, I have seen it in pictures, documentaries, etc.  But I never imagined the size!  It is overwhelming.  Walked through it today and did like my friend Jacquie recommended, closed my eyes and imagined first the 25,000 prisoners of war working on builidng this incredible place.  The foot holds they carved into the pillars of travertine helps you to imagine the strenuous, back-breaking effort it took.

Then I stood in the bleachers and could "see" the gladiators.  The ladies dressed in silks and gowns (at least on the first floor), the "commoners" on the very top nose bleed sections (nothing much has changed - you know this if you go to concerts!).  The gladiators coming in through the life door, many leaving through the death door.  I could hear the noise, smell the fear and the blood.

For not only did gladiators fight to impress their rulers, but men and women sentenced to death were murdered in the  most barbaric and cruel ways in this structure.  Torn apart by horses, beheaded by soldiers....  Whether for huge or small infractions, dying in the Colliseum had to be an atrocity to watch.  Yet watch they did.  The Romans were brilliant people but unbelievably cruel.  You can hear not only the dignataries and royals, but the commoners cheering as these poor people were torn apart by animals.  Were they just celebrating the fact that it was someone else and not them being killed?  Or did even the lowliest of commoners possess the cruel and sadistic streak of the Romans?  I wonder.

The Roman Forum was a sight to behold.  Many of the buildings are only pillars and concrete, but many of them still stand today.  A beautiful church whose entrance remains as it was in 70 AD but whose "core" has been renovated and is still used for special occasions.  The Roman City Hall - a testament to the arrogance and self indulgence of the Roman culture.  This area still has the original cobblestones and lava rocks that were placed there thousands of years ago.  It was fascinating.  I have a very vivid imagination and sat on a bench, closed my eyes and visualized what that area must have been like back when the Romans ruled.  The beautiful fortresses they built for the royal families, the slaves and prisoners of war serving them...

So here are a couple of "DID YOU KNOW's?

-  The Roman Colliseum gave us the term "arena" as it is currently used.  The area in the Collesium used for the entertainment of the Romans was always covered in sand.  Once the spectacles were over, they could "shovel" the sand out of the Collesium along with the blood, body parts, etc.  Sand in latin is "arena" (also in Spanish by the way), so that is how our own arenas came to get their name. (Tell your friends and they will think you are a genius!!!)

-  The Roman empire was built over itself many times over.  In 1932, while preparing to build a building near the Colliseum, they found, underground, a buried structure which is where the Gladiators met before their battles and where the animals were kept to go into the Colliseum.  From this discovery, it is known that underneath the buildings that stand acroos the street with pizzerias and other shops, is a structure, a tunnel of sorts, connecting this structure with the Colliseum.

-  The Forum has a huge church which is in fabulous condition.  It's door is WAY above the street level - way above.  So, query:  Were the Romans super athletes who catapulted their way into this church or was this bottom part of the church excavated at some point?  We can assume of course that it was excavated.  The burial grounds for so much of Roman architecture still lies beneath the surface.

-  The Romans invented concrete!!!  I did not know this.

After leaving the Colliseum and catching my breath from all the movies going through my head, we went to a church (I will get the name as soon as I can find it) which is built on top of another church which is in trun built above an old mint, which is itself built upon a jail which is known to be built upon buildings of the republic.  It was discovered and excavated in the early 1900s.  There is a river that runs beneath all of this which is the cause for the sinking of the first 3 buildings.  The conditions in which these buried treasures remain is truly remarkable and speaks louder than words for the efficacy of the Romans.

I also went to see Michael Angelos' os

1 comment:

  1. Ah and did you take a picture of yourself there? The one I took of Lou and I at the Coliseum has been my Facebook header for years. Did you see the Pieta yet? When I saw it, I cried.