Day Two - Exploring Roma
With the morning sun overhead, we grabbed a quick egg sandwich at
a bar and made our way to the Metro station. Unlike in the US, a bar
in Italia is a "take-out" place for food and beverages. Instead,
though, they refer to it as "Take Away."
It was back to the Colosseo, which derived its name from a colossal
statue of Nero
that once stood in front of it. The 2,000 year old building once held
50,000 spectators, witnessing gladiators, criminals, and animals fight
to the death.
The Missing Floor Reveals the Catacombs
Cats are Smaller,
yet still Plentiful within the Colosseo
The floor of the Colosseo is now missing, showing many underground
passages where animals were kept before being raised by elevators for
Leaving the impressive structure, we walked through the Foro
Romano (Roman Forum), the ancient city's civic center and common
ground between the famous Seven
Hills of Roma.
The centermost of those, Palatine Hill, is where the emperor's chose
to live and lead to the English word palace. At the foot of
Capitol Hill, Roma's religious and political center, we found Mamertine
Prison, where Saints Peter and Paul were held and executed.
As we stepped inside the small, upper level of the prison, we noticed
a hole in the ceiling from which the prisoners were lowered. On the
walls of this level, two plaques contained lists of notable prisoners
and their method of execution. Mamertine only held prominant prisoners
and only those who were condemned to death, as the Romans generally
did not recognize imprisonment itself as a punishment.
Downstairs was the actual cell, which was damp and musty and quite small.
Church tradition says Peter performed a miracle by causing water to gush
from a cell wall to quench the thirst of prisoners and also to baptize
converts, including two jailers. A small spring is next to the altar,
which now is marked by an upside-down cross, signifying Peter's upside-down
Names of Notable Prisoners and
their Intrument of Demise
Upside-Down Cross Commemorates
Peter's Upside-Down Crucifixion
(Click to Enter Prison)
While imprisoned there, Paul is believed to have written some of his
most impassioned letters to the early Christian church.
One of which contained his memorable quote: "I have fought the
good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith."
Though I'm not religious in any way, Mamertine Prison was one of the
more memorable sites for me of our stay in Roma.
After exploring the rest of the Forum, we wondered around and got quite
lost. Soon though we found ourselves at the most famous Fontana di Trevi
(Trevi Fountain). It was packed with tourists, so we decided to keep
moving and return at a later time. Instead we visited Piazza di Spanga
and the Scalinatas di Spagna (Spanish Steps).
In the springtime, the steps are covered with colorful azealeas, but
this was the middle of August and they were bare. It was still an impressive
sight. There were people all around the piazza and all up and down the
steps. People were resting, reading, chatting, sketching -- all sorts
of things as they sat. Fai was growing weary from all the walking, so
she stayed down near the fountain as I climbed to the top. The view
from the top of central Roma and the shopping district was impressive.
View from the top of the Spanish Steps
(Click to Enlarge)
Flaminio at the center
of Piazza del Popolo
(Click to Enlarge)
We walked over to Piazza del Popolo (Piazza of the People), where the
very first obelisk of Roma now stands, the Obelisco Flaminio. Brought
over in 1200 BC from Egypt, it originally stood in Circo Massimo (Circus
Maximus), where the chariot races were held. One of the Popes later
moved it to Piazza del Popolo in the constant early reshuffling of Roma
and its monuments.
We left the piazza and found a nice park off to the east
where we walked a bit, stopped for a Nastro
Azzurro, then hopped on the Metro to revisit the Trevi Fountain.
Significantly less people awaited us this time, so we hung out a bit
and enjoyed the tremendous scene. The fountain is a work of art and
you can watch it and notice different little details for hours.
The name "Trevi" derives from the word Trivium, a meeting
point of three streets that form this little widened area. Nicola Salvi,
who created it between 1732 and 1762, carefully studied ways to increase
the sensation of marvel and acheived this by setting it almost entirely
against the face of Palazzo Poli, preceding it with a little balconied
scene, almost as if it were a theater. The artist was, however, disturbed
during his work by the continuous criticism expressed by a barber who
had his shop in the square. To shut him up, during one night Salvi created
the large basin, known as the "Ace of Cups", situated on the
right-hand balustrade, which completely blocked the view of the fountain
from the shop.
We fulfilled our touristy duties by each throwing a coin in (we actually
threw several, trying to catch the moment on camera), paying homage
to the spirit of the fountain, which will guide us back to Roma. Or
so the story goes.