Awoke to another day of blue sky and sunshine. Had a good breakfast at the hotel before heading out in seach of ancient Rome. This plan was held up slightly as we had a bit of a wait for modern piublic transport, but eventually we got to the colloseum. First impressions as we walked out the train station and saw it was that it's big. It was also very busy, however our Roma cards allowed us to by pass some of the queues, once we had avoided all the people tryingto sell us tours, hats,water etc. However I guess the crowds, including the tat sellers make it seem more realistc., after all it would have been crowded when in use. Standing there in the bright light of a summers day, surrounded by tourists it seemed difficult to imagine this as the place where people fought to the death for entertainment. One change since ancient times is that a large cross now stands on one side of the arena and the pope prays here every Good Friday.
After leaving the collesium we crossed the road, through another ticket barrier and up the palatine hill in the steps of the important men of ancient Rome. Fantastic views from the top, looking towards St. Peter's, where Nero's circus would have been in ancient days. Going back even further we saw the ruins of the alleged house where Romulus lived. According to the legend Romulus and his twin brother Remus were raised by a wolf after being abaonded as babies and went on to be the founding fathers of Rome.
Heading back down the hill we walked through the streets of the forum, where decisions that shaped Europe's history were taken.
The only building still whole enough to go inside is the temple of Rommulus which has since also formed an enterance to a church. It now houses a small collection of statues excavated from the ruins, and also has some wall paintings. Andrew got a little bit excited when we found the temple of the Vestal Virgins until I pointed out that men were not allowed.
As the sun was past it's zenith and baking hot we headed in search of liquid and sustenance. Both of which we found in a little restraunt between the collesum and the main train station.
Fortified by plates of fresh pasta, expresso in my case and beer in Andrew's, we decided to move forward a few centuries from this morning and visit the archbasillica of St. John Lateran. This church is the official seat of the pope in Rome, built by Pope Melchiade (311-314). The church is Rome's cathedral and claims to be the most ancient church in the world. Admittedly it has had at least parts rebuilt aftef pillinging from Visigoths and Vikings (400's), earthquake (896), and two fires in the 1300's. The present structure was compleated in the 1700's.
The ceiling is brightly colouredd, glorioiusly painted and has the odd gold statue attatched to it. Large statues of the apostles line the main aisle. The walls are and side chapels are covered in baroque paintings, although there is space for a multi lingual notice on how to claim an indulgence by praying for the pope. There is also a door into the church which is only opened in Jubilee years and is kept bricked up the rest of the time.
As it was now getting very hot , headed back to the hotel for a rest before dinner. Decided not to bother going back into town but see what we could find in the local area. Ended up at a very nice restraunt, except that the menu was all in Italiam. Eventually ordered two different tortellini dishes, not sure what eitherbof them were, but they both tasted very nice. This was followed by bowls of ice cream as th weather was still very hot.
When we first came the evening had seemed quiet but was now busy, every table filled and despite the fact that it was past 10pm there were still a few children about.
from my LiveJournal, Jane Williams - The Wombling World of Madness