Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Week Fifty: My Adventure in Rome, Part Three


This is my first full day in Rome. It's also Easter, but I wouldn't be seeing the pope, sadly. No, I would miss both chances to see the pope this week. Oh well! I still had tons of fun. Day One would be the best by far.

I took bus H from my hotel to the Roman forum. The ruins on the way to the Colosseum were Caesar’s form and several Roman temple. They were awe inspiring, but I knew what I wanted and I would get it.

To the Colosseum!

Sans tour, it would have been an a hour wait. So I chose to go with an official tour into the Colosseum. It took no time at all! The only downside was it was twice the price of a regular ticket, but it included a tour of the Palatine region as well, so I didn't mind. Besides, it was still half the price of any museum in Amsterdam. Rome is a remarkably budget friendly city.

Oh man. The Colosseum.

You only ever see photos of the outside, but there is a good reason for that.

His name is Michelangelo. Thanks to the actions of he and his contemporaries, the Colosseum lost its structural integrity.

Or rather, it was made no longer earthquake proof, so would collapse at the next shaker. This building lasted for centuries and was set to last centuries longer, thanks to super thin copper disks between the slabs of rock that did something technical or another probably to do with vibrations, and this made it earth quake proof.

Well, let's just say that the artists permanently borrowed this copper. Not that this is the only case of permanent borrowing occurring in Rome. For instance, the Vatican permanently borrowed statues from the Palatine and the Colosseum. You can even see these statues in their museum. They also permanently borrowed the marble in the forum, and other exposed Roman ruins.

Back to the Colosseum though and away from papal re-appropriation.

So, originally this magnificent stadium was open all of ten days from 365 total. Why?

Well its kind of like football. They don't spend a lot of time in actual matches, but they do spend a lot of time training. these guys just played ten straight days instead of once a week. They trained for two years before they competed by the way, and it cost their manager about 20K to train them. Considering 30 shekels was enough to sell a man out, I conclude that this is a lot of money. And if the gladiator died in combat, by the way, the Caesar of the time had to pay the manager double of what it took to train them.

I sort of suspect that while dangerous, it wasn't quite as deadly as Hollywood pretends. When these guys weren't fighting after all, or training, they were rent-a-cops and body guards. Anyway, from this well built wonder, the tour group went to the peaceful and beautiful Palatine area, where fruit trees are an abundance and peace is secure. There was enough free time between the two to explore the Colosseum and grab a bit to eat.

The area is absolutely beautiful, its peaceful, and I recommend a picnic in its gardens or even among the ruins. The former Beverly Hills of Rome, its clear even today why ancient Romans selected that hill are theirs. There is, however, one downside.

Its called the bathrooms. There was one in the Colosseum, and one in the Palatine. That was it. They are no other bathrooms in the Forum area that aren't inside a museum. Rome's tourist areas do not have many bathrooms are all it seems, and there tends to be a long wait.

Otherwise, I loved it. I walked through Augustus' home, peered into Livia's glassed off abode. I stepped into the ruins of a home to three generations of Caesar's, viewed where Romulus and Remus were said to have set their huts, and sat on the stump of a marble column.

My inner nerd stopped squeaking and instead fell into awed silence.

From there, I ended up in what is known as the capitol region, the traditional seat of Rome's government. In trying to find a way in the large and glorious building, which I never quite managed, I ended up in a beautiful church.

On one side were portraits of women and on the other were portraits of men. On both side, the images seemed to be leaving the frame. It was intriguing, but extraordinarily unnerving. In particular, one very insane looking nun who had both hands on her her frame as if she was ready to pull out seemed to be extra worrisome.

From there, I spent the rest of the day in the Capitoline museums. This was not, mind, due to awe inspiring art, or impressive sculptures, though the exhibit was lovely. Oh no, its because Michelangelo, who designed the museums, while a talented artist in many ways, absolutely sucked at making sensible building, and the renovations modern man ahd put it through did not help. I got lost there more than I ddi in the Louvre. Chicago O'Hare in the middle of construction made more sense. This was not a museum, but a maze!

Where were the statues, the paintings I had been promised? I ended up in a temporary exhibit of selections from the Vatican Archives. It was interesting enough, but where was everything else!

Finding that metal statue of the she wolf suckling Romulus and Remus was ridiculously difficult. It took me four hours, and yes, I did have a map.

I ended the day tired and exhausted. The hotel very temporarily redeemed itself by giving me a chocolate egg.

Then I took inventory and discovered the missing debit card. The hotel made me wait until morning to deal with it. The night clerk spoke no English, and there was no getting a hold of my dad.

One Final Byte: Portraits in 3-D are the stuff of nightmates.

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