Trip Start Jun 03, 2011
11Trip End Jun 18, 2011
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This morning we went on a guided tour of the city to see the imperial sights. First we went to the capitol, which has a monument in the center of Marcus Aurelious. Apparently they kept it there because they thought he was someone else. But now it is on the 50 cent Euro piece. The Capitol is situated on one of the lowest of the 7 hills in Rome, but it's still rather impressive. It's surrounded by examples of different eras in Rome. On one side is the Forum, in a valley, representing ancient Rome. On another side is a church built in the medieval area
Rome is built in strata, one era on top of the other. Some buildings are perfect examples of this. In the Piazza Navona you can see underground to the floor of the Circus Dominus (race track) of ancient times. The seats are still in the basements of even the newer restaurants. The higher up the base, the newer the building it seems.
Next on our list we went to the Forum (actually in it this time). Unfortunately many buildings were not accessible due to restorations. In the center are planted a fig tree, olive tree and grape vine to symbolize Rome as well as Romulus and Remus (their basket was caught in a fig tree). We saw the temple of the eternal flame, cared for by the Vestal Virgins. They were very well renowned in their time. There was also a temple of Nero. It's amazing how the Catholics have edited history here. If a building was claimed by the Catholics as a church or temple, it was in lovely condition. However, those that were not worthy of being temples have suffered much decay.
Next: The Colosseum. Amazing. Just... wow. Explanations are better in the pictures.
The Pantheon! A creation made for the worship of all gods, and the lowest point in Rome. Now a Catholic church. There are holes in the floor there (as when it rains, it rains through the hole in the ceiling), that once drained to the bathhouses, now draining to the river
The Vatican: HUGE. Also, everything that looks like a fresco in the Vatican? It's really a mosaic. Every single detailed painting is made of glass. Very very impressive. Also, there's a bronze temple inside that is made from "recycled" (read "stolen") bronze from the Pantheon.
The evening was fabulous. First, we meandered. We went to the Piazza di Popolo (the people's plaza) first on a random whim. Just before we got there it started pouring rain. We hid beneath an archway there for a while, and eventually began again en route to the Piazza Navona. We only made wrong turns about 4 times, still pouring rain, our socks getting drenched and cars driving by splashing us even more. But eventually, we made it to our destination. We looked into a toy store: very neat toys, but very overpriced for inaccurate historical replicas. We also found a little liquor and oil shop, so of course some olive oil and wine was purchased. Then, there was food. We ate at the ristorante Tre Scalini. I had the Spaghetti carbonara, George had the lasagna. The lagna was good, but the spaghetti carbonara: amazing. Spaghetti with bacon and eggs. Sounds scary, yes? But bacon here is not American bacon, it is more like prosciutto
After dinner we proceeded to get lost once again, taking possibly the most roundabout way to the Pantheon possible (as the Piazza Navona is about one block away from the Pantheon and it took us about 30 minutes.) We drank from the Trevi fountain, which is beautiful at night. And yes, here it is expected that you drink from fountains. The water is delicious. Then, eventually, back to the hotel for sleep.