Thursday, November 8, 2012

Anniversary trip to Italy, part II.

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Morning view from our room: Buongiorno, Rome!

Sunday, 14 October

We slept really well, awaking just barely in time to enjoy the delicious breakfast that our hotel provided downstairs.

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Robert en route to the Colosseum

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We thought this piazza around the corner from our hotel was pretty


On today's agenda was a visit to the Colosseum for an "underground" tour. We had been to the Colosseum when we were in Rome before, but this underground tour was not available then (indeed it only reopened in April). The Via dei Fori Imperiali that leads to the Colosseum is closed to motor traffic on Sundays which made for a great walk there. Though the area was quite crowded, I could easily imagine the scene being similar to ancient Romans approaching for games at the Colosseum!

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Me on the Via dei Fori Imperiali

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Via dei Fori Imperiali

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The Colosseum


The ticket line for the Colosseum was at least 50 times as long as the queue for the Vermeer exhibit. I'm guessing those at the back of the line may still be waiting! Once again, though, advance purchase enabled us to walk straight in. We met up with our underground tour group, and our guide took us to a locked gate in a remote area of the Colosseum and led us downstairs to the former holding area for animals, gladiators and other participants.

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Ancient stairs to the underground area of the Colosseum

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Modern stairs to the underground area!

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Example of "cornerstone" technique used instead of mortar in the construction of the Colosseum


I thoroughly enjoyed our previous tour of the Colosseum; it is such an incredible, awe-inspiring place. But going to areas that are off-limits to most tourists added an additional dimension that was really cool. As we descended into the "hypogeum" or underground, our guide told us it was originally a complex two-level area where gladiators and wild animals (elephants, bears, ostriches, tigers, wolves, crocodiles, lions and hippos are among many kinds of animals whose remains have been found in excavations of the Colossem). We walked out on the reconstructed stage and learned that the original stage had some 80 trap doors and multiple lifts for removing bodies and bringing participants and sets into the arena. The stage was covered in sand to absorb blood (in fact, we get the word arena from the Latin term for sand, harena). One of Colosseum's largest entrances was named the Libitinarian Arch after Libitina, the goddess of funerals; people and animals killed during events were brought out through this arch.

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Under the stage

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Ancient pulleys and counterweights used to operate the lifts to the stage

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Robert on the reconstructed stage with our tour group. Notice the crowds in the other parts of the Colosseum; only those who had reserved the underground tour could access this area so we had it largely to ourselves


We were also escorted to the highest level of the Colosseum where commoners and single women sat during the games. This area may not have provided premium views in Ancient Rome, but on our visit it afforded a spectacular vantage point for looking out over the city of Rome and for appreciating the scope of the Colosseum.

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Heading up to the upper level

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Interior of the Colosseum - truly an amazing place. Notice the stage and the area under it where we were earlier

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View of Rome and Via dei Fori Imperiali - such a beautiful day it was!

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Me inside the Colosseum

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Exterior of the Colosseum as viewed from Palatine Hill


After leaving the Colosseum Robert and I were delighted to meet up with my Aunt Paula and Uncle Terry who had just flown in from Atlanta and were in Rome for one night before departing for a Mediterranean cruise. They came to our hotel and had a glass of wine with us on the rooftop bar at our hotel (which is a great place to watch the sun set over the city).

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View from the rooftop bar at dusk - lovely!

For dinner we all went to Pizzeria Baffeto near the Piazza Navona where we once again waited in line to enjoy some fabulous Roman pizza (sans anchovies for me this time!). Aunt Paula and Uncle Terry's favorite gelato spot in Rome, Frigadarium, was next door so we stopped in there for some fabulous gelato (dipped in chocolate even!) before bidding them "Bon voyage" and calling it a night.

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Robert, Aunt Paula and Uncle Terry in the queue at Pizzeria Baffeto

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Enjoying wonderful food and company. Sorry for the blurry picture - blame the vino della casa!

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Gelato - yum!

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Roman Tucker dog in the Piazza Navona

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Back at the hotel - still blurry

3 comments:

DawnW said...

Looks like a wonderful trip Eloise!! I love Rome! Glad to have you back to blogging again as well! You've been missed.

Firefly Hill said...

wonderful photos! thank you for sharing...

Daniel Benny Simanjuntak said...

Nice trip and great photos! I like this post :)