September 07, 2014

The Ruins of Rome


Rome is referred to as the eternal city and today we explored the ruins of the city that testified of those glory days. We began our touring of the day at the Colosseum. This building has been standing for thousands of years. Yes, it has seen better days, but to think that in its prime it was a stadium to seat nearly 80,000 people! It was built in 70 AD! You can see where over the years work has been done to replace natural damage and intentional damage by vandals over the years.

We walked the halls and toured the many levels imagining what it must have been like to see the Colosseum in the glory days (although what went on there was not that glorious). The sheer size of the building is enough to command respect.

Outside of the Colosseum we went to Palatine hill where Cesar had the capital of his society seated. There are only a few buildings standing and the rest are ruins with only walls around us. Again, what we see left is only the remains that survived natural disasters and vandals. We were able to find a book that did layovers on what we see to what it looked like in Cesar’s time. The grand columns and high ceilings were architectural feats that stand as a testimony to Rome’s power for thousands of years. We walked through the gardens that were added many centuries later to beautify the deserted hill.  Tau’aho liked all of the fountains available. He is our water baby through and through.

Olive Grove

What Lady Hiva and I found the most interesting is how the current Rome that we see today is built upon several layers of Rome. As you dig down under buildings you literally find buildings and roads of previous generations. That was no more evident than when we were on Palatine hill. The buildings we looked at (or ruins of buildings anyway), were actually built on top of other homes that were destroyed in fires or for other reasons. Rome is truly a city on a city on a city.At one point we were walking in a huge drafty tunnel and had we not just descended three fights of stairs to be there (with a stroller) you would have never known you were literally under three levels of Ancient Rome.
Ancient Ruins of Rome

Victory Monument

In Rome, because of  all the history, there are not many places you can go that doesn’t have a statue, a marker or a chapel that signifies something important or sacred that happened there. One of those places was near Palatine Hill and other ruins we were avoiding the police chasing illegal vendors (that are EVERYWHERE) down the streets and ended up on a side street between two chapels. We were letting our Lucky Dragon have a chance to run around in a less crowded area and realized that one of the chapels was built on the dungeon were Peter and Paul were imprisoned before they were executed. We went and took a tour of the area and saw the cell where they were (allegedly) held. I guess thousands of people do pilgrimages there every year. WE just happened onto it by chance, but we were glad we did.
The chapel built in the prison where Peter and Paul were held

Peter and Paul's Prison

 From there we made our way to the Pantheon--One of the oldest, and most famous, standing buildings in Rome. It was built as a temple to Pagan gods and is now a catholic cathedral. Again, Tau’aho relished in the free reign to run around. I just followed him wherever he went. He ended up giving two guys (complete strangers) hugs on their legs as he went. Thankfully they were happy to have such kindness given to them! (But hey, who can’t help but love Lucky Boy?) I was just happy I didn’t have to do the cover-the-cigarette-butt-before-he-picks-it-up-dance.

The Piazza in front of the Pantheon

The dome of the Pantheon

 We began walking to see other places in the city and happened to find the Lindt chocolate store (Lady Hiva was SO happy!) We made two other trips back there before we left. We also found a museum dedicated to the engineering of Leonardo Da Vinci. It was amazing to see how brilliant he was. They had made several of the machines he had designed over the years and we were able to play with them. They were so simple, yet complex in their function. With all of the items to touch and experience and what was Tau’aho interested in? Stools—the square stools that the people watching the area sat on became is favorite item. They were just the right height for him to push them around the room until he backed himself into a corner and then I watched as he figured out how to steer it back into the middle of the room and continue on his way. These are the times I love watching him and see how his little mind works.

I began a habit of entering into random cathedrals and chapels that we passed. Some were gorgeous and ornate, others were simple and plain. I saw pieces of art that were recognizable by artists like Rafael and others that were not. For the most part it was interesting to see that the Renissance art was obsessed with the beauty of the human body and what I would term Catholic art is rather gruesome and dark. I am glad that we accidentally found this gem in Rome too. I had fun wandering the halls and Tau'aho made all kind so friends there. I imagine they do not have many people bring their toddler to the survey the ancient pieces.

Piazza Nuovo

The last (planned) stop of the day was the Castel de St Angelo. Similar in function to the Tower of London, the Castel was a prison for many enemies of the Vatican for years. However, the way it was constructed, there was a breeze everywhere we went and that made it more comfortable to enjoy. Of course we were crazy enough to walk all the steps to the top of the building and enjoy the view. To us it was spectacular, but to those imprisoned here over the years, I am sure it lost its luster. 

Tiber River with St. Peter's Basilica in the background

Castel de St. Angelo

St. Peter's Basilica from Castel de St Angelo

More stairs...

On our way back we happened to stop at a grassy area around the Barbarini Museum of Art. I went in and was astounded by the art that Rome has. Besides the Vatican there are still statues and paintings all over the place. I liked to see the Bible stories come to life. We ended our long day of walking, as other days, with some delicious food and some gelato! Fuel to have us ready for the whatever the next day brings!
Barbarini Art Museum

These women tried so hard to be his friend

This...was one of the most creepy statues

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