Day 2 (Colosseum, Forum, the Great Synagogue, Piazza Venezia, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain)

Rome Travel Blog

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Pictured- the most original picture of the Colosseum. Ever.
We started the day at the Colosseum. It was a 10 minute walk, but a 15 minute wait in the line. Luckily, it turned out that we had our vacation during Rome's birthday so all historical sites were free for the week! We didn't pay any entrance fees at all! Except at the Vatican, where the guy in the booth snobbishly told us that we had to pay because we weren't in Italy... like he doesn't take a bus home in some suburb of Rome.

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.
At the Roman Forum.
But I had my picture taken with Vespasian anyway.

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.
A soldier salutes at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
But there was no way the cop didn't see them! I guess he just decided to ignore them or maybe there's a blind-eye policy at work.

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.
One of the few remaining buildings of the old Jewish Ghetto. From this, you can see how haphazardly houses were built back then on crazily meandering alleys.

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.
The Fontana del Nettuno, also known as the Calderari, was built in 1576 by Giacomo della Porta. The statues, Neptune surrounded by sea nymphs were added in the 19th century.
But the lines have blurred over the centuries, and now it's pretty much one community. It is the only building in Rome with a square dome, so you can pick it out easily if you look for it.

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.
Marcel Gorgogne, the famous finger-puppet street perfomer! I have him on facebook :)
I took some great pictures of the fountains there, especially of the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or Fountain of the Four Rivers (the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio della Plata).

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.
A long exposure shot of a Pegasus at Fontana di Trevi
And truthfully, it is so staggeringly magnificent that I have no words to describe it. Evening had descended, and I first saw the fountain illuminated by bright yellow lights, hitting the marble statues' contours so well it was as if it were alive. The designer Nicola Salvi, strangely enough, is pretty obscure. The fountain was finished only after he died.

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.
The locks of love or 'lucchetti d'amore' on the gates outside the church beside the Trevi Fountain.
Locks of every size and type! We stood for a moment to ponder their meaning, but the church was very much closed for the night so there was no-one to ask. Later on, I discovered that they are 'lucchetti d'amore' or Locks of Love. Each lock bears the names of lovers from around the world. They are attached to a rail, and fling the keys into a body of water. The next day, city officials cut them all off and threw tem away, putting an end to that romantic gesture.

After we had seen our fill, we wandered unhurriedly back to our hotel for the night.
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Pictured- the most original pictur…
Pictured- the most original pictu…
At the Roman Forum.
At the Roman Forum.
A soldier salutes at the Tomb of t…
A soldier salutes at the Tomb of …
One of the few remaining buildings…
One of the few remaining building…
The Fontana del Nettuno, also know…
The Fontana del Nettuno, also kno…
Marcel Gorgogne, the famous finger…
Marcel Gorgogne, the famous finge…
A long exposure shot of a Pegasus …
A long exposure shot of a Pegasus…
The locks of love or lucchetti d…
The locks of love or 'lucchetti d…
photo by: vulindlela