jueves, 7 de mayo de 2015

May 7 - Rome, Italy

Santa Maria Maggiore
This is the main church of Rome that serves the majority of the citizens. Indeed there are dozens of other churches, but this is the big one! It's quite grand and has a large plaza in front of it, which helps to allow enjoying the exterior architecture. The inside is in great condition and is full of beautiful painted ceilings. I was on the phone with my grandma, and she said that a bunch of the churches by home used to have painted ceilings, but they painted over them plain white years ago. I have no idea why on earth they would do that; I think that would make me want to go to church more just to adore the beauty!

So if you're going to the Colosseum, definitely walk up the hill and buy your tickets there versus waiting in line. Then you can go ahead and enter without any issues or waiting! It's incredible how much of the structure is still intact. Something I found comical is that they used to essentially tailgate at the Colosseum, cooking meat, etc right there on the steps! It would be amazing to have seen it when it was still operating, though I don't think I'd be very entertained by the amount of human and animal deaths for a small amount of entertainment. In addition, a guide said they would also make topless women fight midgets, make women have sec with animals and then they would be murdered, etc. Talk about a harsh punishment if you get "caught" doing something illegal! I also didn't realize that the entrance was free to citizens and that it was used as a political ploy to get citizens to vote for a specific person who financed the fights, food, and wine. It's quite the place to see, that's for sure. One thing that's impressive is that all citizens could enter the Colosseum and find their seats within 15 minutes, and as such all leave the building within 15 minutes. Modern stadiums aren't even that easy to get in and out of...

Arco di Costantino
There are 3 arches by the Colosseum that an old road used to travel through that the emperor would ride through on his way to the Forum. The first one is the Arch of Constantine, which is just outside the Colosseum.

Palatine today is quite beautiful as a small park. There are a lot of ruins still there from life a couple thousand years ago. There's an incredible lookout point that allows a great birds eye view of the Roman Forum and surrounding area. It wasn't until I was walking through the Roman Forum that I noticed that the lookout point is actually one of the floors of a huge Roman palace that's built into the side of the hill!

Arco di Tito
This is the second arch that leads into the Roman Forum. Honestly, I don't understand what the desire was to build grand arches. All the Arches of Triumph throughout the countries too...I really need to look more into the history and stories behind them; maybe then I'd be able to appreciate them more?

Foro Romano
While there are just a bunch of ruins here now, this used to be the center of social and night life in ancient Rome. Well, before that it was just a swamp and undesired land, but you get what I mean. Apparently the surrounding towns grew toward each other, and this was more or less the center of them, so that's how it came to be. It's also where some government buildings were located and the country was shaped for the people, by the people. It's crazy to think how far society had come at that point and then how far it fell after. Imagine where we would have been if that hadn't happened...

Arco Septimus Severus
This is the last arch the emperor would ride through, completing his journey and his arrival to the Forum. I wonder if this had any influence on why JK Rowling chose the name Severus for Snape, seeing as he was essential to the end of the road for Voldemort and this arch was the end of the road for the emperor...

Altare della Patria
This big, beautiful building houses several interesting museums. The reason I wanted to go there, however, was to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I haven't seen the one in Washington DC, but it fascinates me. It's quite somber. In the tomb is an unidentified soldier from WWI. An Italian woman who lost her sun to the war and whose remains were never found selected the young man to be placed in the tomb out of 11 unidentified soldiers. There are two torches outside that are always lite, as well as 2 guards who stand watch. It's definitely worth a visit.

Colonna Traiana
Located at the end of the Piazza Foro Traiano is the Trojan's Column. The intricate detail carved into the column makes you want to get a ladder and climb up it so you can see every detail up close and in person. Obviously that's not an option, so adoring it from afar has to suffice.

First of, who knew the Pantheon is, and has been, a church for hundreds of years?! When I walked in and realized this, I had to Google it to read up on the history! It's ironic that a once important political building has become a religious building. It's amazing how well kept the building is for being a couple thousand years old. The reason for this is because it's been occupied all this time and has had people cleaning it and performing upkeep on it. I also didn't realize there's a huge hole in the center of the roof. This is, of course, intentional and part of the design. If and when it rains, there is a drain in the center of the floor that can drain out the water. To be honest, I would have expected them to have put a glass ceiling over it by now so every time it rains they don't have to squeegee out the water and clean again.

Piazza Navona
Plaza Navona is a huge plaza. In the center of the plaza is the Fountain of the Four Rivers, which represents the four main rivers of the continents that the papal authority had spread through: the Nile (Africa), Danube (Europe), Ganges (Asia), and the Río de la Plata (Americas). The plaza was built on the site of the Stadium of Dimition, an old competition arena Romans watched "the games" at.

Ponte Sant'Angelo
This bridge is adorned by several statues of angles on the sides of the bridge. Frequently birds land on the heads of the angels, and some tourists think it's comical and try to take pictures with the bird on the angel. I think it's comical that the tourists do this, so we all get a good laugh, haha.

Castel Sant'Angelo
At the end of Ponte Sant'Angelo is a castle. While it's not at all the biggest castle in the world, it can be confusing to navigate, especially if you want to try and see everything and have to duck in and out of the rooms to find your way through everything. From the top, you get a superb view of the city and even the skyline of the Vatican, since it's so close.

Piazza di Spagna
Close to the Spanish Embassy are the Spanish Steps, which ironically were designed by a Frenchman. At the base of the steps is the Fontana della Barcaccia, a fountain in the shape of a boat. Right now, there are large flower pots on the steps, which enhance the atmosphere greatly. It's a fun place to hang out and chat with friends.

Fontana di Trevi
Ahh yes, the infamous Trevi Fountain. The one that's been under repair and cleaning for the last several months. I had hoped they would be done by now, considering extreme tourist season is just around the corner, however that was not the case. Sad day. They had a small fountain in front that people could toss their coins into and make a wish, but I didn't because I felt it wouldn't be the same since it's not the true fountain. Plus, I didn't want to toss a €1 or €2 coin...

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