Coliseum - Rome, Italy
Day 2 in Rome (Thursday June 25th 2009) we took a guided tour of the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. This tour was lead by an English guy named Tom and it was excellent. It may have been our favorite tour of the trip. We got to retrace the steps of Julius Caesar on his final days, we were introduced to the Vestal Virgins and the power they wielded, and learned the stories of a couple famous gladiators. This is a good spot for a quick current day gladiator story. Outside of the coliseum you will find numerous well built men dressed in Roman costumes posing for pictures. These “gentleman” to this day are still not somebody you want to mess around with. As it turns out these costumed gladiators are all ex-felons.
For many of them due to their criminal record this is one of the best ways they can make a living. In actuality what they are doing is illegal, but we were told, “the cops look the other way because if they weren’t making a living doing this, what would they be doing?” As we exited the Roman Forum our guide pointed to two of these “Gladiators” one of which looked like Fabio and suggested that those two are the “lead” or “boss” gladiators. We went to get a picture with “Fabio the Boss Gladiator”, but we were reminded to be sure and pay for the pose!
Fabio the Gladiator - Rome, Italy
After our tour of the coliseum we went about town looking for an outdoor market where Sam and Ali could buy small gifts to bring home. While doing this we stopped by Trevi Fountain that seemed to be a tourist favorite.
Vestal Virgins - Rome, Italy
To close the day we went to a short free tour of the Pantheon. While at the Pantheon there was a public demonstration and rally about the controversy in Iran with a large video screen showing some of web and phone clips which have surfaced recently.
Rome is probably the one city in the world that is all about history. There is no way around history in Rome. Locals and tourists alike on a daily basis have to live, drive, eat, and essentially live in and around historical buildings, monuments, and ruins. I think if I were to pick a spot in Rome and start digging, there’s a good chance I would come across some type of historical artifact or ruin.
Friday (June 26th 2009) day 20 and it finally caught up to us.
The effects of travel and confined quarters are bound to cause some frustrations. I think there was a bit of subconscious anxiety about knowing the trip was coming to a close. However, for some reason Sam SPONTANEOUSLY wanted to kick Ali’s ass. We are still not sure why and I don’t think Sam even knew why! Ali has decided that everything not to her liking is “so annoying”, and refuses to pose for any more photos. I am grumpy, and Christy when things aren’t going well, and even though the “sky is falling”, turns into Susie Sunshine in attempt to pacify everyone.
St. Peters - Rome, Italy
Anyway we were able to pull it together and had a nice tour of the Vatican. The artwork, architecture, and history inside the Vatican Museum were phenomenal.
Two things that stuck out in the museum were the eyes still intact on one sculpture and the Hall of Tapestries had a fascinating rug. Ever wonder why the eyes on ancient Greek and Roman statues seem so uninteresting compared to the rest of the statue? Well it turns out that these statues did have eyes. The eyes were either made of glass and have since been destroyed or painted on and the paint has washed off. See the picture “Statue with Eyes” as this is the only statue in the museum that was found with glass eyes that had not been destroyed. Sam and Ali said it looked, “trippy”. My thought was that, here is a statue that finally looked finished. As for the Hall of Tapestries there was one tapestry with Jesus stepping out of his tomb while standing on the door to his tomb.
Statue with Eyes - Rome, Italy
Well as you walk from one end of the room to the other it looks as if Jesus continues to watch you. Secondly the door of the tomb on the left side of the hall faces you as if Jesus is walking towards you. As you move to the other side of the room the door angle changes and it now seems as if Jesus is stepping towards you on this side of the room. I inquired as to how they pulled this off and was told the fibers of the tapestry are twisted and the image is painted on both sides.
Trevi Fountain - Rome, Italy
As part of the tour we got a great review of the Sistine Chapel and what to look for in the paintings. At the end of the tour we got to go inside St Peters Basilica. The dome of St. Peters is so large it could actually house the Statue of Liberty.
One thing that should be mentioned about the St Peters Basilica is that all the marble used to decorate St Peters was stripped from the Roman Forum, the Coliseum and the Pantheon. I thought St. Peters to be impressive but what I thought would be more impressive would have seen the Roman Forum leading down to the Coliseum covered in white marble in its original state.
Ali at the Drinking Fountain - Rome, Italy
After our tour we went to a restaurant nearby for lunch. It must be said that this is the day we found out Michael Jackson had died. Michael Jackson defined my introduction to music! I can remember my first 7th grade dance when “Beat it” was played, as I went I search of an elder classman who could tell me what the song was and who sang it. What’s more is that as part of a 9th grade English assignment we were asked to put on a piece of paper an artist who we thought would be considered a “timeless act” that would define a generation.
Well the English teacher happened to be my Football coach at the time and I can still remember, “Long……, Michael Jackson huh?” I was the only one singled out as he knew I grasped the concept. As we ate lunch next to an Italian family of 8 who all were above 50 years old, we heard a gasp and three or four of them turned to us (knowing we were Americans) with a sad, sympathetic look as one of the eldest gentleman informed them of Michael’s passing while he mimicked a couple of Michael’s moves. We nodded in acknowledgment and returned a look of appreciation!
Roman Empire at it's Pinnacle - Rome, Italy