Sunday, November 20, 2016

Italy Day 2: Ancient Rome

We had an eventful day two, touring "Ancient Rome," with a few extras thrown in, of course! 

We started the day by walking down to the Colosseo (Colosseum) (about a 10 minute walk from the hotel).  We got there right when they opened. 

This colossal stadium took ten years to build, opening in 80 A.D to house gladiator battles to the death. 

It was amazing to walk on the worn steps and think how ancient the building truly was, and how almost 2,000 years ago others walked those same steps.

We next saw the Arch of Constantine, a monument built by the Roman Senate to celebrate Emperor Constantine's defeat of his rival Maxentius in AD 312 to become the sole emperor of the Empire,

before heading up to the Palatine Hill.  This Hill has ruins of imperial roman palaces (more than one time there were so many that later Emperors had to move off the hill). 

(this is a hippodromus, a long rectangular garden, originally named for being a place where horses would be exercised)

One interesting fact--the word "palace" comes from this Hill, where today a garden looks down on the ruins of the Roman Forum. 

From here we walked down into the heart of the Roman Empire--the Roman Forum, where the Arch of Titus guards the entrance.

We walked through the ruins,

(Temple of Antonius and Faustina built circa 141 AD, surviving today as Catholic Church

including the Temple of Vesta, and the house Vestal Virgins,

and a temple dedicated to the deified Romulus, which was now part of a Catholic church. 
(Built in the early 4th century as a Roman temple)

(in 527 AD, it converted to Christianity)

It is today one of the ancient churches, tituli, and dedicated to Saint Cosma e Damiano. 

A wall had been opened in the church so you could see down into it from the basilica.

(Arch of Septimius Severus)

After leaving the Forum, we took a quick walk by of Trajan's Column and Market, built during Emperor Trajan's reign in AD98-117. 

From here we headed towards the Terrace of the Victor Emmanuel Monument, built in the 1800s to celebrate Italy's first king and its unification. 

Rick Steve's guide describes looking at this building as a small window into how the Forum would have looked in Rome's prime--huge awe-inspiring, towering, bright white buildings.

We ate at the café at the top, with views looking down into the Forum or down the street to the Colosseum.  

(caprese salad--yum!)

We next headed next door to our next pretty church stop of the day, the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, completed in the 12th century.

It had lots of beautiful chandeliers! 

The back door of this church took us down some stairs into the piazza on the top of Capitoline Hill where the Capitoline museum is housed in a palace. 
(we passed a statute to Romulus and Remus)

I saw not one but two huge heads of Constantine here.

(There is a story behind this photo--we searched FOREVER to find this giant head, and all was in the courtyard we could see from various windows in the building)

We had desserts and lemon schwepps on the museum terrace with beautiful views--I had a tiramisu ice cream--delish!

We next walked down the street, passing two Roman temples

 (Temple of Portunus)
(Temple of Hercules Victor)

until we reached the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedian--the location of the Bocca della verita (mouth of truth of Audrey Hepburn Roman Holiday fame). 

There was a long line of people waiting to stick their hands in to prove they weren't liars, so we just stuck our cameras through the gate and took a picture,

before heading into the church--one of the few unaltered medieval church interiors in Rome.

it was much less fancy then some others we had seen, and a great comparison.

We next started walking uphill quite a ways until we reached the Aventine Hill and the Priory of the Knights of Malta.

The doors to their garden are closed and locked, but, if you look through the keyhole with your camera zoomed in, you can see a perfect shot of the dome of Saint Peters surrounded by the garden trees. 

We had to wait in line twice--we both failed at taking it on the first attempt. It is a not so secret photo opportunity spot.

From this hill, I had my only view of the River Tiber. 

After a break break in the garden overlooking the river and down into Rome, we back down the hill and to the other end of the Circus Maximus, of the horse race fame (think Ben Hur)

which is just a large field now, to catch the metro back to the hotel. 

We rested a bit and looked up some of Rick Steve's recommended dinner spots in my travel guide.  We had passed a restaurant called the Drunken Cow on the way up the hill to our hotel, and laughed, but it was actually highly recommended by Rick! 

My plan for dinner tonight had included the Monti neighborhood that Rick liked and said was Quintesentially Roman.  Come to find out...that is where we were staying!  So we just headed back down to the Drunken cow, which was delicious. 

We had a 10 minute wait, and they handed us free glasses of Prosecco--sparkling italian wine.  I ordered Melanzane della Parmigiana (eggplant parmesan) which was delicious, and we got a carafe of house red wine for the table--perfecto!  

After dinner, we walked up to the colloseum to take night pictures, and the full moon just peaked out of the clouds--making for great shots. 

We sat down there a while listening to a guy perform on a guitar before heading back up hill to our hotel.

1 comment:

  1. Your posts are so informational. The most I can do is label my photos: “Colosseum.” “Arch of Constantine.” “Some art.”

    I mainly remember that this day was SO FREAKING HOT. Blargh. And also our initial failed attempt to see that book-reading skeleton, hahaha. “BUT IT’S READING A BOOK, CARRIE.”

    I appreciated how you recreated our “secret back door” route from the Vittore Emmanuel monument —> Santa Maria in Aracoeli —> Museo Capitolini. Rick Steves made it sound way more sneaky and questionably permissible than it actually was.

    THAT STUPID IMPOSSIBLE-TO-FIND ENORMOUS CONSTANTINE HEAD STILL MAKES ME MAD. “No, this is definitely not the right giant head!!”

    Lemon Schweppes is actually my favorite thing about Italy. <3

    YOUR KEYHOLE PHOTO! <3 <3 <3 I need the heart-eyes emoji. It is perfect!

    THE DRUNKEN COWWWWW! <3 That was definitely one of my Top 3 meals of the trip and possibly my life, even though we ended up sitting in the area of the restaurant that Rick Steves said to avoid, haha. I will forever regret not finishing that obscenely huge bowl of pasta. I also still have the 10% off coupon that they gave us at the end of the meal. SOMEDAY.

    And despite the fact that my weird skeleton obsession forced us to walk down that endless blazing shade-less street an extra two times, I still don’t have the equivalent of Photo #26. I guess I need to go back. ;) :-P.

    [I'm obviously going to write a novella for each post.]


Thank you so much for your comment! I hope you have a wonderful day :)