I am overwhelmed today, and this blog will be the casualty. We saw and did so much, and Jose taught us so much that I am too exhausted to write any of it down and share it here. Luckily, this new camera takes some fabulous pictures, so I am going with the theory that a picture is worth a thousand words. I will talk less today and post more photos.
We were to meet Jose at the Colosseum this morning, and we made some strategic errors that compounded our exhaustion. We caught a cab to our meeting place and arrived very early. We thought we would get a step up on the day's events by picking up our tickets, which we had reserved. It was about a 20 minute walk, and none of the ticket booths were open so we had to turn around to get back to our Jose rendez-vous point. We got waylaid by the “gladiators,” men who dress up and aggressively try to get you to be photographed with them. After taking pictures, they want money. We had read about the routine but were still taken in. I think the pictures are amusing though very cheesy.
The morning's coffees started working on me, and I became increasingly desperate for a bathroom. Public restrooms in Rome early on Sunday morning are impossible to find, and I was really very uncomfortable! Finally a tour guide waiting for his own group to assemble sensed my desperation, took pity on me and pointed me to an open coffee shop. I went in and, of course, the man behind the counter told me that the bathroom was “occupato.” My desperation was at its most acute as I stood (danced) outside that toilet door waiting for it to open. Genene thought it was all quite hilarious. Finally the door opened, and I can tell you gratefully that I did not pee my pants in Rome, though it was a very close call.
I came out to find Jose drinking coffee at the counter. The shop was not our intended meeting place, but it worked out perfectly. We began our tour by walking back down the street that Greg, Genene and I had just traveled up and down in our aborted attempt to get the tickets. We should have trusted Jose. He noticed that the Forum was practically empty and chose to take us there first. He talked the ticket agent at the Forum into honoring our voucher, which was supposed to be turned in at the Colosseum. There was virtually no line, and we walked straight into history.
As I said, I am too tired to try to relate to you everything we learned about the Forum. It is history stacked upon history stacked upon history. There are columns and ruins that date back from before the time of Christ. We heard about Romulus and Remus, Julius Caesar, Jesus Christ, emperors and popes too numerous for me to remember. We learned about architecture in the time of the emperors, the medieval age and even the fascist era. It is all still standing in a hodgepodge there in the Forum. Jose is a godsend. He makes it all interesting and accessible for all of us. He explains things in a way that Genene can understand, and he points out the mythological figures to her. He turns to Greg and me and describes things that would interest an adult. When he thinks something might be too intense or “adult” for Genene, he checks with us first before mentioning it. He is a great guide and an interesting person.
The sky is perfectly blue, but it is very hot. As I said, I am just going to share pictures and skip descriptions. Perhaps in the coming days, I can take the time to relate some of the stories.
Julius Caesar walked here. “Friends, Romans, Countrymen…..”
Below is a detail from one of the columns in the Forum.
Genene and Jose can be seen at the right. This is the view of the Forum as seen from the Temple of the Vestal Virgins.
Genene is at the exterior of the Colosseum.
Inside the Colosseum. They have restored a portion of the arena floor so that you can better imagine what it must have looked like. You can see underneath, where the animals were kept. They were let into the arena via trap doors. Gladiators also came in from under the floor. In the first 100 days of games when the Colosseum opened, 5,000 animals were slaughtered. I did not get a count of the men.
Genene inside the Colosseum. The amphitheater could hold 50,000 people. There were sufficient stairs, ramps, gates and entry points so that the people could be moved in and out in 20 minutes. I wish that Reliant were so well made in that regard.
Neptune fights an octopus in Piazza Navona.
Genene and Jose start the evening tour.
The Four Rivers Fountain in Piazza Navona.
Another view of the Pantheon.
As I said, I am sorry I do not have more to say. We are simply overwhelmed. Rome is amazing.