Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sightseeing in Rome - Feb 2012

While in Rome, we saw all of the major sights since we spent three days doing private tours.  Sometimes it was a little too much detail as I tried to keep my eyes from glazing over and rolling into the back of my head, but overall it was really interesting.  Plus we didn't have to deal with any other crazies on the tour since it was just our little family - well worth it if you're easily annoyed and can swing the cost.

I especially enjoyed our tour of the Roman Forum and Colosseum. I took about a million pics there, so these are just a few of my faves.

Above is a really old street sign, of sorts, from the Palatine Hill.  The Roman Forum excavations are located in its valley.

As you enter Palatine Hill past the exit of the Colosseum, you walk uphill in a switchback and I took these two pics of some of the remaining snow in the shadows of trees that hadn't melted yet.  And the umbrella pines - they're just lovely.

I don't recall what these remains are on the forum, but I was impressed with what I saw.  I can only imagine how fabulous the buildings appeared when they were intact and fronted with such formidable columns.

The ancient Romans seemed to appreciate a nice commemorative arch, almost as much as they liked a good column or obelisk.  The pic above was taken after I had climbed to the second level of the Colosseum, which gave me a lovely view.

The pics of the arches above and below were taken while on the grounds of the forum.  The arches were constructed to celebrate the rulers Titus, Augustus and Septimius Severus, which prompted the youngest daughter to ask if that had anything to do with Snape in the Harry Potter movies.

On our tour through the forum, we entered what was once the temple of the vestal virgins, seen below.  

The youngest daughter got tired towards the end of the tour and climbed atop some rocks that were up against the railing.  I looked down to discover they weren't just rocks but rather the bits and pieces of temples or buildings that have fallen down over the centuries.  It reminded me of Ephesus - an archaeological graveyard, of sorts.

Below you see the remains of the basilica of Maxentius, the largest building in the forum.  It was completed by Constantine, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity.  He was proclaimed emperor upon the death of his father while they were fighting in York... where we visited back in December.  I just love connecting the dots in history.

And here are my shots of the Colosseum.  It's an engineering marvel and I was thrilled to be able to walk through it for a good look.

My final pic below was part of the display inside the remains of the Colosseum, an ancient mosaic in little black and white tiles.  I don't recall whether those two men pictured are gladiators, but it seems pretty obvious the animal is some sort of big cat because we know exotic animals were often part of the entertainment.  Here kitty, kitty, kitty.

And a little story about the teen to round out this blog post...

The first few days in Rome, the daily high barely hit 40° F, so we were all bundled up.  However, the teen will always cater to fashion rather than trivial practicalities like avoiding frostbite.  Our first day on the touring trail, we were hiking over the cobbled streets to see the Spanish Steps when we passed by the stereotypical white haired Italian grandmother, or nonna.  She was dressed in black with a scarf covering her head.  She slowed and came to a stop next to the oldest daughter, who was wearing a pair of tights, boots and sweater dress that hit her at mid-thigh and thus wasn't visible since it was on par with the hem of her coat.  Nonna felt it necessary to speak up about this travesty of common sense and thus proclaimed with her limited English, "Too short, too short" while gesturing at the teen's legs.  

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