Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Roma Day 3

Our third day in Rome was another busy day. Though, we got a later start. J went in the morning to do much needed laundry. Lucky for him, the laundromat did the laundry for him so he was able to check the scores of the game and do some needed internet activity. Pam and I got to sleep in! It was wonderful. When J returned we went to our favorite lunch spot. I think we ate it every day. We called it "fold over pizza". You ordered pizza and they cut how much you wanted then heated it in an oven and then folded the pizza onto itself and you ate it like a sandwhich. It was so good!

Our first stop was the Colloseum. It was even more impressive in the daylight. We were able to see where they think the emperor's box was. It's marked by a cross. You could see into the "pit" where they kept the gladiators and the animals. They built a floor over part of the pit so you can get a better image of what it looked like. In the picture, it's towards the back.

The Colloseum was built in 80 AD. It's real name is Anfiteatro Flavio or The Flavian Amphitheater. It was used as an arena for gladiator contests and spectator sports. It could accomodate 50,000 fans. Only a third of the Colloseum remains. Earthquakes destroyed some of it but most was used for other buildings during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. From the Colloseum we had an excellent view of the Roman Forum and the Arch of Constantine.

From there we passed the Arch of Constantine and then on to the Roman Forum. The Arch represents when Emperor Constantine defeated his rival Maxentius in the battle of the milvian bridge. This one battle turned him Christian and thus the entire empire. The Arch represents that change.

The Roman Forum was the political, religious, and commercial center of the city. Rome's most important temples and halls of justice were here. We walked down the via Sacra which runs through the trees, past the Senate building, and up Capital Hill. It was amazing how much history took place here and how old things were. So old!

We saw the Temple of Julius - where his body was burned after his death. He was then later made a god and the temple was dedicated to him. The picture is of the inside - his "burial" site.

Then the Senate building which was built in 283 AD. It fit 300 hundred senators. It is so well preserved because it was used as a church since the early Christian times. In the 1930s it was restored and opened to the public as a historic site. We thought it was open but twas not. The Senate building is the one on the right in the picture.

The Column of Phocas is from 608 AD. It was a figt from the Byzantine Empire to a fallen Rome. It was a gift to commemorate the Pantheon's becoming a Christian Church. And then.. Rome Fell...

On to the Palatine Hill! The Palatine Hill houses a courtyard, stadium, palace, a view of circus maximus and a great view of Rome. The 15,000 sq. ft palace was built by Emperor Domitian in 81 AD. It was described as so grand it made "Jupiter jealous".

This is a fountain in the lower courtyard and could be viewed from the upper level (where we were standing) or from the rooms around it on the lower level.

It was refreshing being on the Palatine Hill because we were able to get away from the crowds.

More of the palace.

After the Palatine Hill, we had lots more ground to cover so we stared the trek to the Pantheon. The Pantheon was a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods. The original temple was built in 27 BC. The current structure is a result of a couple of fires and had been completely rebuilt around 120 AD. Its dome was the model for the Florence cathedral dome which influenced the dome of St. Peter's and finally the dome of the US Capital building. The dome is made of concrete and is 23 ft thick at the base. It is as high as it is wide, 142 ft. It is a site to behold. It's also going to celebrate it's 1400th anniversary as a church. The oculus at the top is the only source of light for the building and 30 feet across.

The Pantheon also houses the final resting place of famous painter Rafael Santi (known as Rafael). The painting above his tomb was commissioned by him for his tomb.

After the Pantheon we went on a church expedition. We toured about 4 churches in the area. While looking for the churches, I found my first canoli of Italy! Yummy! Some of the churches and buildings have a flood line from when Rome flooded in 1870. So much water! Some of the churches were affected and the artwork was affected from the flood line down.

While touring the churches we saw the body of St. Catherine of Sienna (her head is in Sienna), the tomb of St. Francis Xavier, Michaelangelo's Christ Bearing the Cross. And lots in between. On the walk back, we encountered the "cat zoo" it's an area of Rome actually in ruins where there are tons of cats. Sadly, I can't remember the name of the ruins.

We headed back and freshened up. We headed to dinner at a more upscale restaurant. J had a red wine infused steak, Pam had pumpkin ravioli, I had mussel risotto, that was for 1st course. for appetizers (first) we had the house specialty which had sausage and like 7 dishes total. Then as if we hadn't eaten enough already, we shared a tuna, onion, and gorgonzola chz. It was different. Tasty. J didn't like it, at all! No dessert tonite, we were all way too full! There was also lots of red wine to be had that night.

So, our last night in Rome was a fun walk back...

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