I had a great time in Rome with my family this past weekend. Every time I go back to Rome I am always amazed at how beautiful it is. Even though it was hotter than hot we had such a fun time, and eating tons of gelato helped support the heat. I must say, every time I went to Rome I had always just explored the city on my own, this time however, with kids tagging along we thought it best to have a plan. For the first time I was the typical tourist following a tour guide. Rome has a wide variety of organized tours to choose from and many can be found online. For the first tour, we went on what they call a hop on, hop off bus. You can buy an all day ticket, and the bus will stop at all the major sites in the city. There are about 10 stops, you can choose to stay on for the entire ride and listen to history of the sites through the head phones they supply, or you can hop off at any site and have a look around yourself. The buses have designated stops, and pass by every 30 minutes, so if you get off you can hop back on the next one. A nice added touch is they are double decker buses as my nephews called them, and you can sit on top with a nice breeze. Above is a great picture of the Colosseum taken from the bus, it always takes my breath away every time I see it.
We took another small organized tour of ancient Rome on Sunday with a personal tour guide who was just an encyclopedia of information about the history of the Roman Empire. This tour was a 3 hour walk through the Colosseum, Fori Imperiali, Fountain of Trevi, Piazza Navona, and the Pantheon.
Up to 70,000 people could fit into the Colosseum, and it was built in just 8 years, which I thought was just incredible. They built a partial wooden floor to show how it was before, and underneath were the chambers for the gladiators, animals, and weapons. Only the emperor and senator would sit in the seat rows closest to the floor, then wealthy families, and at the very top and last row was for the women, and it was free. Before they built the chambers under the wooden floor, they would fill it up with water to create and rein act naval battles.
After the fall of the Roman empire the Colosseum was abandon and many on the giant stones where stolen to use else where, and part of the outer wall is completely gone. Obviously the thousands years of weather and atmosphere have taken their toll on the Colosseum also but it is still stunning to see up close.
Fori Imperiali, or The Imperial Forums is where all the action took place so to speak. This is where the emperor and senators ruled the Roman empire. This is where they met, talked, argued, and made there decisions on how to conquer the world, at least that was their plan. This is where emperors like Ceaser and Agusto walked the streets of the forum. Also as we know there was no TV, or Internet so if you wanted to know what was going on in the world this is where you went.
The Romans also worshiped many different gods, to the right was the temple of the fire goddess Vesta. Since being a metal smith, I love my fire, so of course had to take a photo. There was always a fire burning in the temple of Vesta, Romans believed fire could help you survive, cook your food, or be used as weapon in war against the enemy. To the right is the temple of Saturn.
The Fountain of Trevi, is much younger than the Colosseum and Fori Imperiali but just as spectacular. As you are walking towards the fountain you can hear the water even before you can see it. It is a very popular site and always crowded. It can be hard to get in close to throw your penny in and make your wish. In the middle is the god of water and to the left is a statue that represents richness and to the right is the statue that represents wellness. The Romans believed that water can bring both of these.
Piazza Navona today is a large oval piazza with three grand fountains in the middle. In the past it was a big arena. There are many artist that sell their art work or paintings. A great place for lunch and a gelato.
The Pantheon, in the past was a pagan temple but now it is a catholic church. It is famous for it's domed roof with a hole in the center.
It is so stunning the way the sun comes through the hole in the domed ceiling as you walk through the giant doors. Here is also buried King Emanuele and King Umberto and of course the great Italian painter and architect Raphael. Like I said before, the Pantheon is now a church, imagine having your wedding here......
A few more sites.....
Castle St. Angelo, it is near the Vatican, in the past it was the residence for the Popes. They say there are underground tunnels connecting the castle to the Vatican.
And of course you can't come to Rome without a visit to the Spanish Steps..................