Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ciao Roma!

Our first trip back was a 4 day jaunt to Rome. We've both been there before, but not together, so we decided to revisit. The weather was fabulous the entire time and we would wake up around 9, eat breakfast and sight see until 3 ish, nap, shower, and change for dinner, then wander around the city from around 5 until eating at 8 or 9. Throw in gelato and cannoli breaks, and it was a lot of fun, but very tiring trying to stay up so late!
As you may have noticed, very rarely do we go somewhere and not rent bikes. This time we rented bikes and rode along the Appian Way. This road was built (starting in 312 B.C.) to connect ancient Rome with the populations she conquered. Also, the slave rebels were crucified along it according to the old movie Sparticus... Along the way are ruins of inns, houses of rich merchants, and some chapels. Some of the original stones are still there (and really brutal to ride your bike on). It was beautiful landscape, and since we went on a Sunday there were lots of Romans cycling or out strolling and not many cars.
This is one of the remaining ruins that was on top of a hill. I believe it was called the Tumulus of the Curiazi (I'm guessing it represents cats who were killed by curiosity?).
Below is the remainder of the Forum, where the business of Rome was conducted. It is so incredible to think of how old these structures are, and what life must have been like in their heyday.
This is the area leading to Palatine Hill, where the palaces were located. It was interesting to read about the construction of the buildings then. Apparently (according to our good friend Rick Steves) there were holes left in the brick for scaffolding to be erected later if needed. We also learned that most of the buildings were constructed in brick, then a marble facade was erected. Sneaky! The road was also paved in stones similar to the Appian Way- we walked on the same stones as Julius Caesar!
Below the Palatine Hill is the Colosseum, another amazing piece of architecture. The brochure said that some of the marble had been stolen later by other maurarders after the fall of Rome, so it is not as in tact. I sure am glad there is tv and sports these days, because I don't think I would like the Roman's entertainment. The Colosseum's opening ceremonies lasted 100 days, and reportedly 2,000 slaves and Gladiators and 9,000 exotic animals were killed during the festivities. The men fighting would not know in advance who or what they were up against- elevators would bring lions, tigers, bears, crocodiles, elephants, etc. into the ring! Yikes.
We made sure to watch Angels and Demons before leaving for Rome, so we were able to recognize all the churches and cathedrals. The photo above is me among the columns, and below is Cameron at the doors. The scale of the building is huge. Unfortunately, we got there after it closed for the night. (The major flaw in the Angels and Demons plot- all churches were closed before nighttime, and they certainly weren't giving tours!)
Below is the Trevi Fountain. Lore goes that if you toss a coin into the fountain you will return to Rome. Well, back in 2002 when I was first in Rome, I tossed a coin over my shoulder and sure enough I found myself there again. I forgot to repeat this, but I hope that I will return again!
Last but not least, it is my duty as a traveler to find the best dessert and report back to all of you. This was what Rick Steves called "Death by Chocolate"- chocolate ice cream rolled in chocolate chunks and topped with whipped cream. And an extra surprise- a cherry hidden in the bottom of the frozen treat. MmmMmMmmm!