17 July 2007

Rome | The Colosseum

July 6, 2007
Rome, Italy

We woke up around 3 in the afternoon, which I originally thought was too late but which turned out to be perfect. As we started getting ready, I realized I did not have my medication. I apparently left three months worth of blood pressure medication on board the Legend of the Seas. I had the snacks, shoes, games, maps & used bus passes. But I did not have the little pink pills designed to keep me from having a stroke. Well there's no use crying over abandoned pills. We set out to see Rome.

We planned an ambitious first afternoon, based on the proximity of the sites, and recommendations from Frommer's. I bought the guide for Rome before we left and against Jesse's judgment. It did end up helping us quite a bit. Based on its recommendation for one day in Rome, we figured we could see the Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, Palatine, Roman Forum, and Piazza Navona before dinner, and follow it up with the Trevi Fountain and gelato at night. Ready? Go.

We left the hotel and got some pizza at a little pizzeria across the street. We each just had a slice to keep us in good spirits while we toured. Once we ate, we took a train right to the Colosseum.

The Colosseum is breathtaking in its enormity. It's like seeing a movie star in person. You know what it is and you've probably seen it hundreds of times. But when it's in front of you, the story of it comes flooding to you and you are overwhelmed.

It did not take long for us to get through security and I could tell Jesse was getting really excited to go inside. But we were deceived. Security moved quickly. Admission did not. If we had been more easily discouraged, we would have joined a tour. Tour groups skipped the line and went right inside. But at the end of the day, we saw the same Colosseum for less money.

In my opinion, the Colosseum needs to be appreciated as two entities. First there is the Colosseum as a site. There were gladiator fights, animal hunts, naval battles, and there were even forest settings recreated and populated with animals just to show people a forest in the middle of a city.

Also important is what there was not. Massive Christan martyrdom -- although taught to me for years and believed to be true -- appears to basically be a rumor. Yes, Christians were killed, but there's no way to be sure it happened at the Colosseum. For its part, the Colosseum is denying any involvement.

But the Colosseum is also a magnificent building. It was built in 72AD, and could seat 45,000 to 55,000 people. There were 80 entrances, including some for the the VIPs. Tons of marble was carted in and eventually removed to build other projects in Rome in the last millennium. The design and architecture are amazing. It has survived earthquakes, for the most part and will be there after you and I are dust. It's mammoth.

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