After today, I can prove to you all that Rome wasn’t built in a day (well it wasn’t, seeing as the Colosseum took 8 years) and you’d be even harder pushed to see it all in a month!

We left the hotel this morning with Ancient Rome in our sights. The hotel isn’t far from Porta Pia, which is is a large gate/archway (I think) and is about a 20 minute walk from The Colosseum. So we headed off this morning after a quick breakfast at the hotel, with this as our first stop:

20110909-115543.jpg

The Monument to Vitorrio Enamuelle II. Known affectionately to locals as the wedding cake, a very unpopular building. Firstly because it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the architecture. Personally, I don’t see why, the detail around the top of this building is fantastic and only gets better once inside. Secondly, because Mussolini came along, built a house atop the original site and used it as his headquarters. He used it to make his addresses from, and once filled the square outside with cardboard cut-outs of his soldiers with the intention of impressing Hitler. It worked apparently, although none of these cut outs have survived for us to see them for ourselves.

From the roof of there however, we got a spectacular view across the whole of Rome.

Pretty humbling when we turned round and saw this standing behind it…

20110909-115711.jpg

Took us about an hour to get there however, as we ended up walking the long way round to it. After being accosted by some guy outside, although we were both glad it wasn’t a thieving gypsy if I’m honest, we bagged a tour round the place without having to queue for two hours to get in. Apparently being Scottish means we can get money off it too, I guess they must know we’re renowned for being stingey…

20110910-121006.jpg
My photography skills are apparently coming in leaps and bounds…

We spent the rest of the morning wandering round there, hearing about how it had been built and the various things that had happened to it. Interestingly, there’s only 38% of the original structure left, as it’s been raided by barbarians and several areas of it have collapsed due to various earthquakes. 20110910-120313.jpg
For that reason, no one will ever know how many people it could seat, as there are no documents surviving today which indicate it. Somewhere between 50 – 80,000 is believed to have been the capacity. The only setting area which has survived was rebuilt a few years ago only to give an indication. Much of the building was looted by the Romans for bricks to rebuild there houses, while Rome was under attack from the barbarians. This was eventually called to a halt by the Pope.

We stopped for lunch at a nearby pizzeria, where we were served wine in something akin to a small fishbowl.

20110910-120022.jpg

20110910-120031.jpg
The view was exquisite!

When we returned to the colosseum for the second part of our tour through the Roman Forum, neither of us were very keen to do any walking. Hearing stories about the Vestal Virgins and emperors building 63 acre palaces atop the Paletine hill made up for it however. Although mostly ruined, The Forum was definitely worth a visit as well.

20110910-120536.jpg

There remains what was the house of the Vestal Virgins. A cult joined by girls at age 10, tasked with responsibility of keeping the eternal flame alight. Working in 8 hour shifts, the penalty for letting the fire go out was punishable by death. If a girl lost her virginity, she was taken out of Rome and buried alive. Unlike most Roman traditions however, a suitable punishment was also devised for the man involved, and he was publicly skinned for his sins.

Not sure one night stands were worth it back then either…

It wasn’t all gloom, dome, death and history today however. To take our mind off the perpetual walking and endless heat, we began coming up with other tasks to keep ourselves entertained. Being in Rome, the best one had to be spot the Fiat 500. We were probably made to feel more nostalgic by this than anything else we did today.

20110910-121236.jpg

20110910-121247.jpg

Sweaty, parched and tired, we began making our way back to the hotel, once we found our way out of the Forum. Hannah was adamant that we had to get a photo of a temple, who’s outer pillars were worth €4000 per cubic centimetre… We finally stumbled out of the place and made our way back home for a much awaited cold shower!

Been a pretty good first day! Tomorrow we’re going to the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, as the guy who did our tour of the Forum today is doing the one there tomorrow. Three hours, but I’m sure it will be just as cultured as today was!

Lewis
X

Advertisements