Friday, June 10, 2011


Ancient Rome

The morning began cloudy, though we were not deterred. We headed down Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, visited the ATM, then realized that our bus, in Via Torre Argentina, was just around the corner. We hopped the 87 bus and lumbered through town, passing the impressive white marble monument to Victor Emmanuel, and within five minutes found ourselves stumbling out of the bus and faced with the Colosseum. It still leaves you with nothing to do but stare and nothing to say but wow. After a short trip to palatine Hill, we were informed that our Roma passes would apply for both sights. So, as has become our custom, we slipped past those who failed to plan ahead and right into the Colosseum. Even with a third missing, this is a truly breathtaking structure. I am always fascinated with its state of decay. And I'm glad that the Italians keep it that way. We meandered the passages and floors of the stadium, surrounded by the reminders of the past. If you looked hard enough you could see the peasants in the seats, and the gladiators fighting for their lives. Gives you the chills. I stopped to sketch and no sooner did the rain begin to sprinkle, then the drops became larger. I shrugged on my jacket and propped my umbrella on my shoulder to protect my work. It was wonderful to sketch again. And as I did so, the rain stopped, the clouds broke, and the sun illuminated the ancient stonework around me. Something in me clicked and I felt so alive.
We spent nearly two hours in the Colosseum, every second an experience. We ate our lunch of salami, feta cheese and brucheta chips atop the knoll which overlooks the Colosseum and Arch of constantine.
Feeling refreshed, we visited Palatine hill. The Roma pass covered it as well. This hill can be described as eerie, mysterious, majestic and haunting. The skeletons of grand palaces stand as a testament to Rome's great fall. Remnants of ornamental stonework lay strewn in the dirt.
We descended through pleasant gardens to the Forum. I believe it trumps Palatine Hill in mystery. One can almost imagine how incredibly grand the structures once were. It is a jumble of toppled columns, derelict walls and rubble. It must once have had some semblance of order, but now it looks as if the city planner had been drunk. It was hot and our hydration limited. After navigating the ruins, we gratefully trudged up the steps and to the Victor Emmanuel monument. Though it is generally not seen as a tourist sight, it is a truly magnificent structure. I can easily say one of the greatest in the city, or maybe even anywhere. Next door we hiked up Michelangelo's steps to Capitoline hill. It has a great view of Rome, and is one of the most unique landmarks in the city. We then descended and made our way back to the Pantheon with no trouble. It was fantastic to see its interior again. It's bigger than I recall, and the dome still blows me away. I had the pleasure of perching on the fountain steps and sketching. I find that I feel more connected to a place if I sketch there. It's such a wonderful piazza, filled with so many different kinds of people, each one a character. One of oarticular interest was a woman who had mastered the cello and played the great classical compositions beauifully. After enjoying the scene, we enjoyed dinner at the restaurant across the street from our apartment. I had veal in red wine. Delicious. Currently we are solisly under our food budget thanks to the supermarket. We are dead tired but have spent an incredible day in old, old Rome

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