Monday, August 5, 2013

Roma - Il Colosseo

Back in early July, we decided to take a day trip down to Rome to see some of the sights.  I was pretty excited about it, mostly because we were planning on visiting the Vatican as well, which is one place that I've always wanted to go (but I'll save that for a future post).  

IL COLOSSEO - The Colosseum in Rome
We woke up early one Tuesday morning and headed to the train station in Calenzano, which was where we decided to start our journey since that small station has plenty of free parking.  Of course, we ended up running late - me getting ready & Simone packing up some panini (sandwiches) in his backpack.  We jumped in the car and basically flew to the station.  What would normally take us 20 minutes to drive (or 25 if there was traffic) only took us 15.  I don't want to know how fast he was driving, but with no traffic on the street so early (it was before 7am), it was a breeze getting there.  We ended up there with about 5 minutes to spare!

Waiting for the train at Santa Maria Novella

Hopped on the train and took it into Santa Maria Novella station in Florence to get our connection.  We had about an hour before our train left, so we found a couple seats and waited.  

Finally, it was time to leave, so we boarded the high-speed train and settled in.  The trip only lasted an hour and a half, which is a lot shorter than the 4 hours it would take to drive there (which is the benefit of taking a train...that and not having to worry about parking and city traffic).  Watching the landscape as it whizzed by was my favorite thing to do while on the train.  Fields of sunflowers, mountains, little villages...all were absolutely beautiful.  And thank goodness Simone packed some panini, because we ended up munching on them on the way there.  Much cheaper than what we could buy on the train!

We arrived at Roma Termini around 9am and wandered around before we decided to take the metro to the Colosseum.  We had tickets to the Vatican Museums at 12:30, so we figured we had time to see the Colosseum and grab some lunch before then.  

When we emerged from the metro station, the Colosseum was right in front of us.  All we could say was "wow".  It was extremely impressive.  HUGE!  Bigger than I had imagined!  We crossed the street and stood in line for tickets.  That took FOREVER.  There were so many tourists, due to it being high tourist season in the middle of summer.  I decided then and there that the next time we decide to go to Rome it will be in the fall, winter or early spring!

Walking into the Colosseum (finally) was spectacular.  This giant ancient stadium could hold anywhere from 50,000 to 80,000 people.  It was the largest amphitheater of the Roman Empire and was built between 70 & 80 AD.  Of course, it was used for gladiator competitions and other entertainment spectacles over the ages, but that ended ages ago, most likely in the 6th century.  Now the building is partially in ruin, due to several earthquakes over the ages (a big one was in 1349 that collapsed the south side of the exterior), as well as some of the stone being either stolen or re-purposed.  


View of the hypogea - the underground portion of the Colosseum

View from an upper level, looking down on the hypogea and the partial reconstruction of the wooden floor


In part of the Colosseum, there is a museum.  While we were there, it was exhibiting things having to do with the Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Emperor.  

Reconstruction of the head of a colossal statue of Constantine

Sandstone pillar with the tetrarchs - about 305 AD

Marble bust of Tetrarch - late 3rd century

Marble & green glass Christogram - Monogram of Siricius - late 4th century

Marble statue of Herakles - late 2nd century

Marble mithraic relief - late 3rd century

In the Piazza del Colosseo, there's the Arch of Constantine, which was commissioned by the Roman Senate to commemorate the victory of Constantine over Maxentius in 312 AD.  It was finished and dedicated in 315AD.

Then, directly across  from the piazza and the Colosseum is the Roman Forum.  From the Colosseum, you can see the Temple of Venus and Roma, which was begun in the year 121AD under the Emperor Hadrian, who was actually the architect.  It was inaugurated in 135 AD by Hadrian and finally finished in 141 AD.  

Unfortunately, we didn't make it to see the forum or the temple.  We had an appointment at the Vatican and by the time that was all over and done with, we had to cut our trip short by a few hours due to the fact that I was stupid and wore new shoes that day.  All the walking around the Colosseum, the Vatican and Rome turned my feet into hamburger and I couldn't walk without being in a huge amount of pain. So, we changed our ticket for an earlier one, hopped on the train and headed back home.  We'll go back to Rome someday - when there are less tourists and it's cooler...and I'll be sure to wear better shoes!

This little guy apparently lives at the Colosseum

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