Our Italian vacation started with three days in Rome. Amazingly, jet lag didn’t hit us too bad, and after a nice dinner of fresh pasta at a local trattoria with a bottle of wine, we crashed deeply. Our first full day started with a guided tour of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum.
You can tell where a later restoration was added to the right, to help stabilize it. Apparently, half of the Colosseum collapsed during an earthquake, as it was built on sand, while the half that remains was built on stone. The multiple pock marks or holes are where bronze bolts were holding the stones together, and were dug out by later rulers to melt down for munitions.
Our modern day stadiums resemble this lay out. There were three levels of seating for 60,000+ spectators. The pit in the center was where the gladiators waited and where the animals were kept. They have partially covered the far end, to recreate the look of the floor that spectators would have seen.
It took only 8 years for construction of the outer structure (and 100,000 Jewish slaves). It was just amazing that something of that size and complexity is still standing 2000 years later!
Two other sites that were included in our tour with the Colosseum were Palatine Hill and the Forum. Both weren’t very exciting or photogenic, and the Forum seemed to be random ruins scattered over an area in the center of the city, surrounded by newer buildings.
Moving on to the Pantheon was a Wow! for us. This building is about the same age as the Colosseum and is beautifully preserved.
It has the largest non-reinforced brick dome in the world. In the center of the dome is the oculus, which is open to the sky, allowing the only light into the building. The rain that falls in, drains through holes drilled in the marble floors into the still functioning Roman pipes underneath.
The Trevi Fountain was one of those “must see” things while in Rome, and we were going to be walking right near it on our way back to our apartment…so, why not? I was only expecting big crowds taking selfies and throwing coins, so I was really surprised by how beautiful it was. It is an enormous facade on a building that is carved in travertine.
The coolest part was that the edges were left rough and unfinished, making it look like the statues were rising up out of the stone.
And it’s pretty at night too!
It was fun wandering the streets, people watching, and eating gelato, of course! My favorite square was Piazza del Popolo (“People’s Square”) because it was so open and had neat terracing on one end leading several stories up to a garden area.
Like this young one, we’re now off to Tuscany to catch some dreams.