Roma, 9 lujlio 2021
The morning started with the colosseum, a special tour that would take us to the floor of the colosseum.
I walked from the house to the colosseum and it was a wonderful pleasant walk and saw many familiar landmarks and sundry roman ruins along the way. The weather was cool and balmy as it was early in the morning–that was the genius of getting up early and taking the earliest colosseum tour. SO I would not end up like Morris and I when we were walking through Rome in 100 degree weather and by the time we reached the Colosseum Morris was too overheated to see the Arch of Constantine. When he asked me to see it, he said it has a lot of things that would be offensive to Jews, so I played the J-card and opted to sit the in shade.
Below are pictures from my walk as well as my triumphant return to the Arch of Constantine.
I did get to see another set of Covid testing and vaccination tents.
Then in the far off distance I saw my goal: Il Colosseo and stopped first for a luxurious visit to the Arch of Constantine and I hope somewhere Morris is smiling.
Finally there was the early morning tour of the backstage of the colosseum, where the gladiators prepared, the wild animals pulled up on the stage and apparently over 3,000 slaves worked to prepare, execute and clean up after the games. This was an extraordinary experience and it was amazing to walk among there behind the scenes of the largest ampitheater in the Roman Empire.
If you look at the picture of the colosseum arch, you see it is pock marked with holes. Apparently, Rome was sacked multiple times in the 5th century. Every time, the loot became harder and harder to find. First it was gold and humans, then it was silver, then bonze and then…the iron that held the arches of the colosseum together. The romans invented a lego-like system to hold the numerous arches of the colosseum (3 floors of 80 arches) the first seismic proofing of a huge building. So the invaders left to the scraps, dug out the iron pegs from all of the arches.
Infact, most of the damage caused to the colosseum was caused by a 13th century earthquake. Since then there were various, poorly planned and ill funded attempts to reconstruct the colosseum causing the current hodgepodge of bricks, stones etc. The last major restoration was ordered by Napoleon, until the one undertaken by the Italian government to open the floor of the Colosseum in 2019. There is also a future plan to build a glass floor over the mainstage area but that is on hold because the current budget of 500 million euros is looked upon as insufficient.
Here are some pictures of the inside of the Colosseum’s ground floor.
Our guide relished in telling stories of the gore and excesses of what took place there. For example, the starving of lions to make them extra ferocious in the battle. How of a boat load of lions, they would be lucky to have at least one of them survive the boat ride from Africa. The four years of expensive training a Roman would have to spend on training a slave into a gladiator, which they did for much the same reason as billionaires buy baseball teams today. The guide, a Romanian now living in Rome, was also obsessed with a particularly lurid story of how Rome was founded (which I don’t recall anyone asked for) it went on so long, that half the tour participants left before he was finished and it caused the tour to run way over time. Then it went so long over the entire plan of beating the heat had ceased to function. Then in a hurry to finish the tour for the restless remainders, the guide took on a forced March in 90 degree heat. I had eventually had enough but not before i was so exhausted, Ihad to think I am exactly where I was with Morris on that 100 degree day too tired to do anything else.
I decided to go back home and get lunch.
Well that simple thing: go back home, unfortunately it became an Odyssey as I took the Rome underground and halfway the train was abruptly stopped and announced the train—and indeed the entire metro line was going out of service for indefinite period of time for ‘maintenance.’
At the next station everyone got out. I looked up on line how to get home, aside from repeating the now impossible route it said there was a station—did I mention I was exhausted?
I walked to the station and it was closed off the passages were closed. There was no way to get to the station. I tried another route, thanks to the combined powers of Google maps and Apple Maps, the route took me, in the now blistering heat, on a bus. And I was a little surprised that it took me one stop to the very train station that was closed off from the metro station.
I walked into the station and bought a ticket. I waited in the heat of the platform for the train which was 15 minutes late for the 20 minute journey to the St, Peter train station near where I was staying. I walked back to the house and collpased and awoke in time for a late dinner.
I decided to keep dinner simple to a roman pizza and a salad. The roman pizza was indeed thinner and crispier than the Neapolitan counterpart. Though I prefered the latter it was nice to try the former. The waiter must have sensed I had a trying day because he brought me a free glass of limoncello at the end of the meal.
I trudges back home, feet now aching as blisters formed from that idiot tour. I passed by this the St. Peter’s square–feet too sore to walk in– it was a lovely place to pronounce my benediction: Rome is out.