Monday, July 2, 2012

Rome: The Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill


This was my favorite tour of the trip. I was worried about how Goblin would handle it – since it was a TON of walking around, it was one of the hottest days we spent there. But I needn’t have worried; Goblin was perfectly content to be carried by me in the carrier, and when she didn’t sleep, she looked around and took in the scenery.

When you walk up to the Colosseum, there is a lot to see. Street vendors selling stuff that ranged from a €2.00 plastic pig that flattened into a “splat!” when it hit the ground (oh yes, we did. We bought one for the kids. It was immediately ruined when Bumblebee ‘accidentally’ chewed a hole in it and the water inside leaked out.) to a €100.00 Gladiator helmet. That was super cool, but impractical to buy on a tour. Who would like to carry that around all day?

They had streetside vendors who sold drinks and snacks, etc., and in Rome you can walk around with a drink, so Hollywood got herself a Bacardi Breezer.  This is pretty cute because we’ve called her “Breezer” since she was a little girl.
*photo of H with her Breezer:

A side note on the drinking thing: It’s legal for 18 year olds to drink in Rome. It’s not in America. I think this is a rather dumb rule of ours, and I suspect that it has something to do with alcohol abuse of young people. I went overboard in college when I was under the legal age, but once I hit 21 and it was legal, it just wasn’t as much fun anymore. Whether that was because I had grown up by then or it was no longer ‘forbidden fruit’ is debatable, I suppose.  Anyway, we did let Hollywood have a drink now and then while we were in Rome, and she was very responsible about her drinking. Let’s hope that responsibility travels with her to Wisconsin this fall.

Anyway. Now onto our tour.  The Colosseum was massive. Difficult to even explain how huge, really.  Here’s a photo of Hollywood standing in front of it:

We had a tour guide who was at times difficult to hear, only because the group was so large, but what I did hear from him was fascinating.  Here’s an image of the inside of the Colosseum:


And another of us. Goblin is checking out the place:
*photo of Hollywood, me, and Goblin: IMG_0423

My favorite part of the day, though, was the tour of Palatine  Hill and the Roman Forum.  Apparently most visitors opt to skip this part of the tour, but we were very glad that we didn’t. It was fascinating. Palatine Hill is where the legend of Remus and Romulus (the legendary founders of Rome) were said to have fought each other. Romulus killed his brother Remus in a grisly battle. There are all sorts of historical gems up on Palatine Hill. Rome became a republic in 509 BC. Until then, the city was reigned by an Etruscan dynasty of Tarquin Kings. This group built a sewer, to drain water from the marshlands of the valley to the Tiber river. Ever since, the area was the center of activity in Rome and was the site of the first forum. Here, triumphal processions took place, elections were held and the Senate assembled.

The area kind of looked like a huge jumble of ancient ruins. It was hard to figure out what you were looking at. But luckily, our tour guide (a cheerful Australian bloke who was easy on the eyes) told us all about the ruins.

Here are some photos. I won’t bore you with what they all are – but let me tell you this area was absolutely fascinating:

The arch of Titus:

The arch of Constantine:

The basilica of Maxentius: (The stone these purple columns are made of is among the most precious stone in the world. I can't remember the exact amount, but it was somethign ridiculous, like €15,000 per square inch.)

The beautiful gardens were amazing:

And there were cool trees:

Looking out over the forum ruins:

Looking out over Rome from the top of the hill:

Getting a drink from the water fountains (the water is fresh and cool and was wonderful after our long walks up steep hills!)

Once the tour guide left, we were able to walk around the grounds by ourselves.  We spent our time wandering around, looking for the restrooms (we never did find them!) and eventually we were thoroughly lost. It took us a while, but thanks to The Husband’s internal compass, we were able to finally get out of there and head back to our apartment.

Like I said, this was an amazing tour. We were able to let our imaginations fill in the blanks and picture a bustling civilization that was formed over 2000 years ago. I’m interested in getting some books to learn more about the area. Something about actually walking those grounds sparks a real interest in the area.

1 comment:

Karibean said...

Looks amazing! Looks like we'll have to put Rome on our bucket list. :)