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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 Floor of the Colosseo is now Missing
The Missing Floor Reveals the Catacombs
(Click to Enlarge)
One of the Numerous Cats in the Colosseo
Today's 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 surprise attack.

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.

Notable Prisoners and Method of Execution
The Names of Notable Prisoners and
their Intrument of Demise

The Upside-Down Cross of Mamertine Prison
The Upside-Down Cross Commemorates
Peter's Upside-Down Crucifixion
(Click to Enter Prison)
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 crucifixion..

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.

Atop the Spanish Steps
The View from the top of the Spanish Steps
(Click to Enlarge)
Obelisco Flaminio at the center of Piazza del Popolo
Obelisco 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.

Trevi one
Trevi two
Trevi three
Scenes from the Trevi Fountain
(Click to Enlarge)

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