Thursday, September 18, 2014

ITALY: ROME {COLOSSEUM, PALATINE HILL, ROMAN FORUM}


Call us silly or stupid but we were, for the most part, trying to do Italy on a budget. 
Especially after a large conversation about OUR budget just before going. That being said, we passed on almost every single guided tour offered (as there were placards and eavesdropping to make due with at the other sites).. so maybe it's because it's the only site we went on a tour with that I can say this- if you only do one, make it the Colosseum. 

 We got up early and walked 20 minutes (in torrential rain..not fun) to the Colosseum. Thankfully by the time we got there it started to let up, then rained when we were underground, and let up again for the day (perfect timing!). We were on one of the earliest tours and we purchased the special "first and third ring" tours- which I also highly recommend! These rings are not accessible to the general public but we were able to take a guided tour of them, as well as cover the main 2 rings as well. 
Unlike the movie Gladiator depicts, the gladiators did not fight animals, only the hunters did. Gladiators were often criminals who fought for their freedom or career-trained individuals who aspired to be wealthy and famous. Winning 10 fights in a row as a criminal gladiator ensured your freedom (and wealth!)  

The history of this place is so fascinating. It was built in 8 years between 70 and 80 A.D. and could hold between 50,000-80,000 spectators. It was free to the public, but seating was based on social status.  The emperor sat at the "50 yard line" so to speak, and the tiers towards the top descended in order of importance, with senators, the wealthy, and the poor making up the spectators. To celebrate its inauguration they had 100 days straight of "games" and over 9 thousand animals died during these games. 

The arena was covered in sand to absorb the blood from the men and the animals. Beneath the floor of the Colosseum was an ornate system of cranks and platforms which made it as though animals appear through trap doors in the floor. Nearly 700 slaves worked in hot, dark conditions in the "basement" to run the contests. 

{original walls of the first version of the Colosseum}
{animals were kept in pens in the half-moon cut-outs you see in the top right}
{the original floors were hand placed stones in a herringbone pattern- its name derived from the bones of the herring fish}

The Colosseum (actually called the Flavian Amphitheater, the Colosseum is a nickname) is adjacent to the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. 

Palatine Hill is quite literally a hill that overlooks the Forum and Colosseum. It's where all of ancient Rome's wealthiest lived and for good reason- it was in the center of the city life at the time and it had the best views. 

The Roman Forum was the center of economic life in ancient Rome: it is where people came to do business, get tickets for the games at the Colosseum and buy food. 


{Caesar was cremated in this tomb}

{on our walk back to our neighborhood- monument built to the first king of Italy}

Our last night we wandered back to Piazza Navona based on a recommendation from an IG comment of a girl I went to high school with and happened to locate the restaurant she mentioned as "behind Piazza Navona." It was charming, and on a quiet street behind the bustling piazza. 

I ordered her recommendation- the pear and cheese stuffed pasta in a carrot cream sauce. It was to die for. That, combined with a Prosecco, and a perfectly quiet and beautiful Rome, made for a fantastic last night. 
We slept in a bit, enjoyed our last hotel breakfast, and found our way back to Termini to head to Florence.

6 comments:

  1. I'm gonna need a vacation stat. Y'all look like you're so relaxed!

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  2. These pics are literally SO perfect and amazing - like the set of a movie!!

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  3. That's a history lesson I can handle. Short and to the point with pretty pictures :) I am not the biggest fan of pears or carrots but that dish sounds amazing!

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  4. These photos are INCREDIBLE! I am so jealous if this trip!

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  5. OMG - I want to walk in your footsteps and take this exact trip! So beautiful!

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