Thursday: I left my touring of Ancient Rome to the last day of my visit. Having had a VERY long day with my hike to the Vatican and back on Wednesday, I decided to sleep in and when I woke up at 8:30a it was raining. I had been very fortunate weather-wise in my week in Italy so I couldn’t complain. I spent some time organizing my stuff and writing a bit, as well as trying to figure out what to do in Rome on a rainy day (since I hit so many indoor sites the first three days). By the time I decided to head out at 11:30am, I saw blue sky out my hotel window! So, I took a roundabout walk to the Metro station, going through the Universita di Roma “La Sapienza,” which was a typical urban campus just blending into the surrounding city without anything really distinctive to demarcate it as a campus.
The Metro ride from the Policlinico station to the Colosseo stop was the only train ride I had in Rome that was jam packed. I literally had to push my way onto the train (aided greatly by the people pushing me from behind). Then I was worried that I would not be able to make it to the door at my stop because almost no one got off at the 3 stops in between, and somehow more people got on. But some hard work and a few “Scuzzis” got me to the door and out to see the Colosseum.
I’m not really “into” ancient history, don’t have a fascination with Gladiators or Russell Crowe, but you can’t help but be impressed by the idea and execution of such a structure — even though what went on inside was a bit suspect.
From there, I walked the Palatine Hill, amid the ruins, and made my way across to the Roman Forum.
Walking amid the ruins, I tried to imagine what life was like 2,500 years ago, or even a mere 2,000 years ago. I couldn’t do it, but was awed to be in the presence of the material remains of that civilization. At the same time, I found myself wondering from time to time, “How many slaves died to build that monument?”
At the end of the Roman Forum, I went up the Capitol and Capitoline Museum, designed by Michelangelo in the mid-16th century. The first thing you see when you enter the museum is a courtyard with fragments of an ENORMOUS statue of Constantine the Great, from the 4th century AD. I guess its technical name is the “Colossus of Constantine,” which I think means Enormous Constantine. In any event, I don’t know the woman in the picture, but I waited until she walked into the shot to give a sense of the size of the thing. You can also see the attention to detail — notice the veins in the arm to the left.
As at the Borghese and the Vatican, I was particularly struck by the statuary sculptures. There is the very famous bronze “She-Wolf” and also the “Capitoline Venus,” but I spent the most time looking at the “Capitoline Gaul” or “Dying Gaul” or “Dying Galatian.” They say it may have originally been intended to be a discus thrower — based on the body positioning — but I’d say it works well as a striken warrior.
On my way back to my hotel I passed by the Vittoriano — the memorial to King Victor Emmanuel II — which is a good reminder of Italy’s more recent history, especially that the country was not unified until the 19th century and then as a kingdom not a democracy, and the republican era in Italy only dates to 1945.
I walked slowly back to my hotel, along the Via Cavour which runs from the Roman Forum to the Termini, thinking about everything I was able to see and everything I have yet to see.