This was a big day – our first day in Rome, which of course should be the signature event of any visit to Italy. But at the start of the second week, we found ourselves fatigued, even after being able to sleep in this morning. But we persevered and after breakfast at the hotel, we accompanied Pastor Brown and most of our fellow travelers on a walking tour of the region around the hotel. The first stop was the Spanish steps which Pastor described as a “gathering place.” It was a lot of steps. We did not climb them. Second stop was the Trevi Fountain – not as impressive as the night version, but worth seeing and another obligatory photo. The third stop was most rewarding – the Pantheon. It was a domed structure which the Romans had built using concrete – quite an architectural fete we were told. Inside was a mixture of Roman and Christian sculpture – the temple built to the Roman gods was later transformed into a Christian Church. It was especially a highlight for Judy. But given our energy level, with a long afternoon ahead, we elected to drop out of the group and return to the hotel for a little rest before going on our guided tour in the afternoon.
At 1:00 we walked to our bus loading zone and then were driven to the Capitole Museum – located on Capitol hill with some beautiful views of the Roman Forum and many exceptional artifacts, including a bust of Constantine (only remaining representation of him) and a great bronze statue of Marcus Auerelius (which had been originally identified as Constantine).
Our guide then took us through the ruins of the Forum. You had to use your imagination to see it as it was, as the relics left a lot to be “filled in.” But our guide did a good job by displaying a picture book that showed renditions of the Forum as it would have been. It was interesting.
But the best was last as we went to the Colosseum. We got “vip treatment” and were allowed to enter on the “stage,” the lower level. There, we could look up at the massive seating areas and imagine we were part of the “show.” Our guide (I’ll have to get her name tomorrow) explained the various levels and the citizens who occupied those seats. Then she described the “show” which began with animal battles, then proceeded with various tortures of “criminals” and finally the battles of the gladiators. Only part of the “stage” where we entered is displayed – the rest is removed to reveal the compartments underneath that housed the combatants. The Colosseum was an awesome experience and made the long day worthwhile (my feet were killing me).
After the Colosseum we were supposed to tour the Church of San Clemente which was built on Roman ruins (an underground tour) but by the time we arrived, they were not allowing any more tours. We weren’t really disappointed as it had been a long day. The bus was back to the hotel after 6:00. Some went out to eat, but we split off and went in search of something simple which turned out to be a small pizza and a bottle of Heinekin – Judy opted for some wine we had in the refrigerator back in the room. So, no big dinner, but maybe an early bed time as we rise early tomorrow morning to visit the Vatican. So once again it’s time to set the alarm.