day 8  july 22, 2003  Rome, Italy
It is Tuesday. We slept in and then went to the Coliseum. There were people dressed like gladiators making people pay to take pictures with them. The audio tour told us lots about the history and what we were seeing. There was also a Nike exhibit on one side of the second floor. We learned that Nike means "Victory."
The Coliseum was phenomenal, Jon's favorite part of the trip. One outer wall of it has been torn down. You can see the tall part missing on the left in the picture. They have excavated under the floor of the arena to reveal all that went on under the arena. The Coliseum could hold upwards of 80,000 people. It was named after the Colossus, a 100 foot bronze statue of Nero that used to stand out front of the Coliseum. Understanding the ancient layout of the area around the Coliseum is humbling. There was the Coliseum. Just outside is Constantine's Arch (still standing), a conical fountain (all ruins now), the bronze Colossus (gone), the Via Sacra dead-ending into the fountain, and the Forum at the end of the Via Sacra. There were dozens of tall columns on either side of the Via Sacra (some still standing). Behind the Forum spreads the Palatino, the ancient town center of Rome. Amazing! So much impressive architecture in such a small area.
The tickets to the Coliseum allowed us to enter the Palatino also, so even though we walked around the outside the night before we toured the Palatino anyway. The temperature was too hot for Lisa so she sat in the shade while Jon walked and looked around. The stadium in the back was impressive. We thought it was Circo Massimo at first, but it wasn't.
We ate at the same place as the night before with the view of the Coliseum. Lisa ate minestrone and Jon had pizza.
We searched for Domus Area, the home of Nero, built just to the north of the Coliseum. We were supposedly looking at it, but we didn't see it. We then went to Chiesa Del Gesu, a Jesuit church. If we remember correctly, that church had a blue ceiling with gold star/snowflake designs in the ceiling. Then we also saw Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, the church with Saint Catherine's tomb.
From there, we went to the Pantheon. It is only a dome, the best-preserved building from anceint Rome. Raphael and Vittorio Immanuele II are buried there. It's an impressive building with a large oculus in the center of the dome, letting in the only light.
From there, we visited with homage the most famous ice cream parlour in Rome, Giolitti. It has over 100 flavors. Jon's favorite was Kiwi and Lisa's was Straggiollio (or as Lisa spells it Straggiolena). We continued on our circle of places to see to Santa Agostia, Palazzo Altemps and the Museo Nationale Romano (which was closed), Santa Maria Del Pace (which was in service), and to Piazza Navona.
Piazza Navona was a nice place. When we arrived, there was a rally going on with platform speakers trying to fight against the television companies becoming more fascist, as one man said who we asked. We browsed a bunch of caracatures that were really very good then went to dinner. Jon ate Calzone and Lisa had tomato and cucumber salad.
During dinner, a drama group began performing out in the Piazza. We stayed after dinner a bit to watch them do 3 skits - Time, Hands, and Storyteller. They also did some songs in between in both English and Italian. One of them would give a short Biblical message in between as well. We learned they were from Calvary Chapel Redlands - small world eh? They were staying with a local missionary church that met in a small Christian bookstore on Wednesday evenings. We asked the pastor for directions for the next day.
On the walk back to the hotel, Jon saw a young boy throwing a can up into the ruins by the Coliseum and yelled, "No!" Jon then gestured to the grandeur of the ruins, and the boy made an effort to retrieve the can as we walked on by.
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