Day 2 (Colosseum, Forum, the Great Synagogue, Piazza Venezia, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain)
Rome Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
April 20th, 2009 – by: meelg
The Colosseum was tremendous fun! It was great to walk through the gallery and see all the artifacts. At that point I remembered that the Colosseum was built by the Flavian dynasty, and if your recollection of history on them is a little rusty then I'll remind you: they were the ones who conquered Judea and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem.
They very cleverly marked out the route for visitors so that after walking through the archaeological gallery, you come out in the center of the amphitheater walkway and experience a fantastic first impression of the place. We walked around, the sky was so blue and clear over the Colosseum that it made everything I saw look like a postcard! After we saw our fill, Lianne and I headed out to a cafe right across where we had strawberries with whipped cream.
Then we headed to the forum. On the way over, we saw some Pakistani vendors selling toys and umbrellas. Suddenly, they all scattered over a hill! A cop on a motorbike was cruising through and I figured that they were peddling without a license or something.
When we got to the Arch of Titus, we stopped so I could take pictures. If you're unfamiliar with the arch, it was built to commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus Flavius in 70 a.d. There is a frieze on the arch depicting it. For that reason, Jews never walked under that arch all throughout the centuries. That is, until the State of Israel was founded and then the entire Jewish community of Rome marched underneath.
We didn't stay too long in the forum after that, we didn't have a guidebook to tell us what the buildings were and Lianne wasn't feeling well. She headed back to the hotel for a nap while I attempted to visit the Great Synagogue again.
On the way there I pass by the tomb of the unknown soldier right at the salute ceremony. At the monument, there is a guard of honor and an eternal flame.
I arrive at the Synagogue gate, and the man lets me through into the backyard. There are old tombstones mounted on the walls leading to the museums entrance. I joined a tour led by a volunteer from the congregation and from her I learned a lot about the community. It seems that Jews of Rome have the oldest community outside of the Holy Land. They have been in Rome since the 2nd century b.c. when Rome had an alliance with Israel against the Greek empire.
The Synagogue actually has two places of worship: one for native Roman Jews, and another for the Spanish Jews that fled to Rome after the expulsion in 1492.
After the tour, I walk through the old ghetto back to the hotel to check up on Lianne. She was still feeling bad, but she really got up because she really wanted to go to our next stop- Piazza Navona!
We took a bus there (for free!) and hung out there for the rest of the afternoon. I imagined Navona to be like a regular city square i.e. square shaped. But when we got there, I saw it was actually a long, oval shape. Later I learned that it was built on the ruins of the stadium raised by emperor Domitian in 86 AD. The piazza marks the area for races held in the stadium.
There were so many things to see! Lianne took me to the two toystores there and we watched Marcel Gorgogne, a street artist who has a finger puppet show at the southern end of the Piazza. Apparently, he's a proper fixture of the place because he was there last time Lianne visited. I also added him on Facebook.
After taking in the sights, we strolled the 5 minute cobblestoned walk to the Pantheon, the ancient temple dedicated to "all the gods." It got dark as we got there, and so 5 minutes in the Pantheon was all I got! No matter, I'll see it next time I'm in Rome.
Then we walked through more winding, narrow streets until we reached the Trevi Fountain.
Everywhere you look on the fountain there is a story to see: the bas reliefs depicting the Roman origin of the aqueducts, Tritons guide Oceanus taming seahorses, and so on. I was truly overwhelmed.
I took some fantastic pictures using a tripod that a French tourist was kind enough to lend me. This took a while since it was the first time I used a tripod but my efforts were well rewarded!
Strange footnote- there is a church to the right of the fountain, on whose gates there were literally HUNDREDS of locks that were locked on.
After we had seen our fill, we wandered unhurriedly back to our hotel for the night.
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