Roaming in Rome

Posted: 13/10/2008 in Europe

I’ve had 5 full days in Rome and did not scratch the surface. You could wander for months and not have seen everything. I love that you can be walking through this modern westernised city and turn the corner to see ruins more than 2000 years old.

Highlights and interesting facts:

The Colosseum: A massive MCG type structure used for sport, theatre, animal hunts and fights. Elaborate sets were made with hills and trees in order to make the “hunt” for an animal more entertaining. Did you know they slaughtered up to 11,000 animals in the first 100 days of it being opened. Gladiators would fight each other but more often a convicted criminal (without a weapon) would be put against a gladiator and more or less tortured before the final death blow. The floor was covered in imported white sand in order to show up the blood. If it was theatrical entertainment on show and there was a death scene, the actor would be replaced by a convicted criminal and killed in the scene for realism. 2nd century AD Christians were fed to lions, tigers and bears during the persecution. What a gruesome place it was. So of course I walked through with mixed feelings not sure whether to be amazed or appalled.

Palatine hill: A city resting on a hill where the rich lived. The hill itself is the start of mythology about the founding of Rome. According to legend (and my bad memory) a Greek God fell in love with some woman who was supposed to be watching an eternal flame so it didn’t go out. He tried to woo her without success so he raped her (charming!). She became pregnant and gave birth to twins. She died (I think the God may have killed her I can’t remember) and the twins were suckled by a she wolf. All sounds very believable so far doesn’t it? As the twins became men the God came down to them and told them “hey I’m your Dad and I’m a God, how cool is that”. Instead of letting them found a city together and live happily ever after he told them they had to fight each other and the survivor would rule the city. So Romulus set up camp on one side of the hill and Remus on the other, one of those hills was Paletine. One killed the other, one lived and ruled etc… There is something about the city of Troy and fugitives escaping and being related to Rom and Rem in there as well but I can’t remember. Now doesn’t our history sound boring in comparison. We were founded by convicts, whoo!

Roman Forum: The oldest remaining structures of early Rome. Pretty amazing to walk through streets and past the ruins of buildings that are 2700 years old.

Vatican City: Where do you even start regarding the Vatican. It only became a sovereign nation in around 1920ish but has existed for a long time before then. According to history, Peter (or St Peter), the apostle and disciple of Jesus was buried here and the site preserved as a memorial. A church was built over it and later pulled down to build a much grander one which is now St Peters basillica. As pope’s came into existence palaces and other buildings were created and over time this became the centre for catholic church. There are some bishops there whose sole job is to fly around the world to find miracles. How do you define that as a job title?

The Sistine chapel was built for one of the pope’s in 1508 and he commissioned Michelangelo to paint the , an interesting request seeing as Michelangelo was a sculptor not a painter. It took him 4 years and poor old Mike became crippled and near blind at the completion which is not surprising considering he did the entire ceiling in candlelight and bent backwards! Now that’s an occupational health and safety hazard. When you actually see it the fuss made about it makes sense. It’s pretty mind blowing and size and detail.

Trevi fountain: This enormous fountain built into a building is was completed by a number of different artists. It’s huge and very pretty when lit up at night. Apparently you have to stand with your back to it and throw a coin over your left shoulder into the fountain to ensure your return to Rome. There’s a lot of money in that fountain…Hmmmm, I need some extra cash.

Spanish steps: A long set of steps where people gather to chat, eat (not supposed too), people watch and chill out. They are nothing spectacular (I thought), just some more steps to climb but would look pretty with the flowers they have on them in Spring.

The modern city: Well the drivers in Rome are crazy!!! Seriously they do not know how to merge and lanes are only there as a guide. Peak hour is a nightmare and the emergency services have a huge amount of trouble getting through the traffic. I love the sirens, they sound like the battery is going flat and kind of whine. The people are typical city type but exaggerated. I did not find them at all friendly and even a Nona (nana) would not think twice at pushing you out of the way. The subways are beyond squashy and being tall I am surrounded by a bunch of little Italians who meet me at chest level…..not good! As for the food, I am yet to find a good pizza or pasta. I’ve still got another week to find good food though and I don’t mind trying of course.

Time to leave the eternal city and leave for the art and renaissance of Florence.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s