Pompeii Day!!!

I knew a little, tiny bit about Pompeii before…let’s see, there was a town and it was destroyed by a volcano…yep, that’s about it (unless you count the knowledge that the Tenth Doctor visited once and saved the man who would eventually become the inspiration for the face of the Twelfth Doctor…if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go watch Doctor Who right now…no delays!).

So I guess you could say that I went in not knowing a great deal about Pompeii, and there is not much I can actually say about going to Pompeii other than this – take a map of the ruins…and possibly a history book…because there aren’t many placards along the way to let you know what you’re looking at.  Believe me, this blog took a lot longer to publish because I had to research almost everything (I think it’s their way of getting you to buy the audio guide…which I now highly recommend).

All that aside, actually stepping into the ruins, you realize it was not just a few hovels, huts, or even houses crammed together, but rather a thriving Roman city…with two theatres and an amphitheatre (although the small theatre was not open to the public on the day we visited).  It’s really difficult to imagine (but rather easy to see) that you are walking the streets of a town frozen in time…August 24th, 79AD to be exact.

I’m going to start this blog how I should have started my trip, with a brief, brief history lesson from my favorite site for quick info…Wikipedia.  The Wikipedia site on Pompeii has this to say…

Pompeii was an ancient Roman town-city near modern Naples, in the Campania region of Italy, in the territory of the commune of Pompeii. Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas in the surrounding area, was mostly destroyed and buried under 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

Researchers believe that the town was founded in the seventh or sixth century BC by the Osci or Oscans. It came under the domination of Rome in the 4th century BC, and was conquered and became a Roman colony in 80 BC after it joined an unsuccessful rebellion against the Roman Republic. By the time of its destruction, 160 years later, its population was estimated at 11,000 people, and the city had a complex water system, an amphitheatre, gymnasium, and a port. (they forgot to mention Pompeii’s TWO theatres!)

The eruption destroyed the city, killing its inhabitants and burying it under tons of ash. Evidence for the destruction originally came from a surviving letter by Pliny the Younger, who saw the eruption from a distance and described the death of his uncle Pliny the Elder, an admiral of the Roman fleet, who tried to rescue citizens. The site was lost for about 1,500 years until its initial rediscovery in 1599 and broader rediscovery almost 150 years later by Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre in 1748. The objects that lay beneath the city have been preserved for centuries because of the lack of air and moisture. These artifacts provide an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city during the Pax Romana. During the excavation, plaster was used to fill in the voids in the ash layers that once held human bodies. This allowed one to see the exact position the person was in when he or she died.

Pompeii has been a tourist destination for over 250 years. Today it has UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, with approximately 2.5 million visitors every year.

So there we go, a nice, quick, concise summary of Pompeii.  And while all of that is useful, interesting information, it does not prepare you to walk the streets, see the vivid colors still painted on the walls, or view the plaster molds that once occupied human remains discussed by the Wikipedia site.

As for the actual trip itself…well, Brittany and I got off the train in Pompei (they drop 1 “i” in the modern name) and it was pouring rain.  There were no signs directing you how to get to the ruins, and it’s actually fairly difficult to find visitation information online.  We found one small sign that said archeological site and it was pointing in the general direction of where we thought the ruins were…so we went that way.  After a long…long walk in the rain (roughly 20 minutes of actual walking with lots of stopping to check for directions) we finally found the entrance.  And since it was the first Sunday of the month we got in FREE!  Yay!


 

Suburban Baths

The first building you get to upon entering is the Suburban Baths.

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This picture is of the Nymphaeum containing a mosaic of Mars and three cherubs…

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Also in the Suburban Baths, we go out first view of the highly detailed mosaic floors.

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Basilica

Up the hill we arrived at the Basilica…

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Templo de Apolo

Across from the Basilica is the Temple of Apollo…

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There are two statues in the Temple, but they are copies.  The originals have been moved to the National Archeological Museum of Naples.

One copy represents Apollo…

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The other Diana…

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Foro

Past the Basilica and the temple, the ruins open up for the first time as you enter the Forum at Pompeii…

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We came back to the forum later in the day and got some better photos.


Teatro Grande

We wandered through the crowd for awhile trying to take everything in (free entrance was apparently enough to draw lots of people in regardless of the cold and rain).  “Somehow,” even without a map, my spidey-sense led us directly to Pompeii’s theatre, and I finally got to see something I have taught to several students.

Because I may never get another chance…the seating area is the theatron, the semi-circular area in the center is the orchestra, and the partially dilapidated building fronted with grass is the skene.  Knowledge is Power!

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Casa del Criptoportico

Mosaic floor with Hellenistic rosette…

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Painted design around the floor…

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Amphorae (a two-handled pot with a neck that is considerably narrower than the body; used for the storage of liquids and solids such as grain – University of Oxford).  We also overheard an employee explaining that the pots were pointed so they could be stacked on ships.

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Painted wall…

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This spot near the top of the building had what appeared to be a sitting area.  Brittany and I both thought the fact that among all the destruction these delicate images of flowers had survived was pretty amazing.

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A bust of Mercury with snakes, butterflies, and birds…

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Caupona of Lucius Betutius (Vetutius) Placidus

Lararium (shrine to the guardian spirits of the Roman household) on south wall. The central figure is the Genius of the household next to a three legged altar. On either side of him are the two Lares (guardian deities). On the left side is Mercury with his money bag. On the right side is Bacchus with his panther drinking from a cup held in his right hand. – PompeiiInPictures

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Casa dei Quadretti Teatrali (House of Theatrical Squares)

Marble tripod table legs with lion heads and paws…

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Painting on the wall…

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Wall painting of theatrical scene…

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Casa dell’Ara Massima or House of Pinarius or Casa di Narcisso

Wall painting of Narcissus

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Casa del Fauno (House of the Faun)

Entrance floor (made of small triangular pieces of marble and slate – red, yellow, green, white, and black)…

 

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Reproduction bronze statue of a dancing faun (the original is at the Naples Archeological Museum)…

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Recreated Alexander mosaic (the original is at the Naples Archeological Museum)…

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Pompeii Thermal Baths

Frigidarium (cold bath room)

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A close up of the red band that runs around the frigidarium.  According to PompeiiInPictures, it “represents a race of cupids in two-horse chariots or on horseback.”

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Statues of Telamon (Atlas) in the tepidarium (tepid bath room)

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Plaster Casts

Plaster cast of victim called “Muleteer” found at the Palaestra, crouching on the ground with his back against the wall…

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Tied to his chain,the poor animal was unable to get up and unfasten himself.  It gives a terrible impression of the poor animal’s last minutes.  The plaster cast showed his leather collar with the two bronze rings for the chain.  Found at Casa di Orfeo (House of Orpheus). – PompeiiInPictures

 

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The boy.  Here is the cast of child found in a corridor at Casa del Bracciale d’oro (House of Golden Bracelet) not far from three other bodies, a man, a woman, and a younger child.

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Macellum (Indoor Market)

Inside of the Macellum

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Two statues in the Macellum.  In the above image, these statues are positioned to the right of the alter in the back center.  The male is thought to be either Marcellus the nephew of Augustus or an unknown member of the Julio Claudian house.  The female is thought to be either Octavia the sister of Augustus or an unknown member of the Julio Claudian house.

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Foro

As promised, here are a couple of better pictures of the Forum at Pompeii.  This first picture is the remains of the Tempio di Iuppiter (Temple of Jupiter).

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These are the columns at the entrance of Edificio di Eumachia (Eumachia’s Building)…

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And inside, the statue of Eumachia…

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A wider shot of a bit of Pompeii from Edificio di Eumachia…

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It was too cloudy to get a picture of Vesuvius from the ruins, but maybe it’s better that way.  No need to see the sleeping mountain while we visited the evidence of its destruction…right?

Oh, if these images interested you as much as they did us, you might want to check out the website I’ve used as a reference throughout this blog.  These guys have done some serious work to get these images labeled and in order. Pompeii In Pictures

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Napoli

We actually had a plan for visiting Naples…none of this wandering around and discovering things by being lost for this city!  Brittany’s friend Maria Antonietta is from Napoli and she happily provided us with a massive list of things we need to see and do.  Unfortunately, the best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew.  It was raining for a good portion of our visit, and when it wasn’t raining…the wind made it ridiculously cold.  Brittany had picked up a pretty severe cold in Rome (where is was also cold and raining…just not quite as harshly), and it got steadily worse in Naples.  But the show must go on!  And Brittany was a champ and tried her best to power through…with the help of a few different medications, lots and lots of cough drops, and every form of tissue imaginable.  I suppose I digress…on to the actual trip.


 

Day 1:

It was late afternoon by the time we got off of the train and to our fantastic little Bed & Breakfast, so we broke out our itinerary of things to do and searched the food section.  Now, if you’ve read any of this blog before, you’ll know that Italians eat dinner quite a bit later than Americans do.  This is fine, but the side-effect of this is that many Italian restaurants don’t even open for dinner until around 7PM, and often times that is for Apertivo (snacks with drinks) so you can’t get dinner until closer to 8.  I explain this because our first choice for food didn’t open until 7:30PM…meaning we would need to wait about two more hours to eat.  Neither of us wanted to do that, so we decided on the most natural course…pizza.  After all, ask anyone from Naples and they will gladly remind you that Napoli is the birthplace of pizza.  So we found a little spot (that had a heater) in a beautiful little piazza and had some delicious pizza.

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Day 2:

Stazione Marittima

Day two led to some exploring.  Don’t let the blue sky fool you…it rained all night and part of the afternoon, but we were able to find a few really interesting places…like Stazione Marittima, what used to be known as Fleet Landing.  (Fleet Landing was the port Brittany’s dad used when he was in the Navy.)

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The Totem della Pace (Totem of Peace) stands in front of the main building

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This Appeal for Migrants was written on the backside of the totem, and Brittany and I both really liked the message…

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Castel Nuovo

Across from the port is Castel Nuovo (New Castle).  Castel Nuovo was built in 1279, and while its backside is large and imposing…

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The triumphal arch at the entrance is spectacular.  Wikipedia says it was “built in 1470, (to) commemorate Alfonso of Aragon’s entry to Naples in 1443. It stands between two western Towers of the castle.  The first level sculpture depicts a triumphal quadriga (chariot) leading Alfonso parading.  The second upper arch is surmounted by lions and four niches with statues depicting the virtues of Alfonso. Above this is a rounded lintel with two genii with horns of plenty surmounted by Alfonso in attire of a warrior.”

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Overall, an absolutely beautiful castle situated right beside the sea.

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San Francesco di Paola

We ended up looping back around to the San Francesco di Paola and the city’s main square, Piazza del Plebiscito

 

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Charles III statue in Piazza Plebiscito

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Ferdinand IV statue in Piazza Plebiscito

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Statue on top of San Francesco di Paola…

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Palazzo Reale di Napoli

Opposite the San Francesco di Paola, across the Piazza del Plebiscito, is the Royal Palace of Naples.  Unfortunately, the exterior of this entire building was covered for repairs, but we were still able to go into the museum inside (even though large portions of the museum were also not on display…it seems like several repairs were going on simultaneously).

The main stairs…

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The theatre room…

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Paper mâché statues of the Muses lined the theatre wall.  Here are Melpomene (the Muse of Tragedy) and Thalia (the Muse of Comedy)…

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A random room in the palace with a sphinx table…

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As I said…rain, cold, and the fact that Brittany wasn’t feeling well kept us from going too many places, but our Bed & Breakfast, o’Beb, was very nice.

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They even had a tasty house-made drink to try… (Note that this tasted like heavenly nutmeg in a bottle, and I was a little obsessed. -Brittany)

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Day 3:

We actually spent day 3 in Pompeii.  That will be the next blog I post.


 

Day 4:

Finally, on our last day we got some nice weather.  There was still a bit of a nip in the air thanks to the wind, but at least we got some fantastic blue skies.  We decided to just walk the coastline and enjoy the sun.

Napoli coastline…

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Castel dell’Ovo (Egg Castle), which has a pretty cool legend associated with it – “The castle’s name comes from a legend about the Roman poet Virgil, who had a reputation in medieval times as a great sorcerer and predictor of the future. In the legend, Virgil put a magical egg into the foundations to support the fortifications. Had this egg been broken, the castle would have been destroyed and a series of disastrous events would have involved the city of Naples.” – Wikipedia

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Another shot of the Napoli coastline…

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Mount Vesuvius…the infamous volcano responsible for the destruction of Pompeii in 79AD…

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Fontana del Gigante (Fountain of the Giant) also called Fontana dell’Immacolatella with Vesuvius in the background…

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We really enjoyed walking around the city…just wish there weren’t so many storms (and construction) while we were here.  Still, Napoli is well worth a visit…just maybe wait until the spring or summer months.

 

Roma in a few days…

There’s this whole story where I “lost” the camera that you can see here, but this post focuses on our actual journey through a very small piece of Rome…without any of those pointless and boring stories about how I sometimes screw things up.

So Brittany and I spent a few days in Rome, and I have to say that it wasn’t nearly enough.  I still think my favorite Italian city (thus far) is Florence, but Rome is a really, really close second.  What’s so great about it you ask?  Everything…is my simple answer.  Although, I suppose if you don’t like history, beautiful things, and excellent food then I guess the answer might change, but I like all three so this was a fantastic destination.  I was a bit reluctant about going at first (it’s not really a cheap train ride from where we live).  Sure I wanted to see the Colosseum, but other than that…I guess in my mind, Rome was a modern city with bustling traffic, skyscrapers, and a desire to feed on sightseers.  Now don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of traffic and every shop / restaurant we passed had someone trying to herd us in, but if you can look past that (quite literally actually) you can see the heart of the city…and it’s beautiful.


 

Day 1:

Once we arrived and got our luggage up, we immediately headed to see the Colosseum…I mean you have to, right.  Just like several other sights in Italy, the Colosseum can sneak up on you if you’re not paying attention.  We were following our map app, winding down main roads, narrow streets, and alleys, but then…well we just kind of looked up at one point, and at the end of a very long, very narrow street…there it was.

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Like good little tourists we used our selfie-stick to get a few photos.  Seriously though, we both made fun of selfie-sticks, but Brittany bought one and it has been a great way to take pictures of us…I judged but I was wrong…

We had to…ummm…see a man about a camera…so we didn’t stay very long.  What we did discover in a very short time though…you could spend several days not in Rome, but just in the area around the Colosseum and not see everything.

Arch of Constantine

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According to Wikipedia, “The Arco di Costantino (Arch of Constantine) is a triumphal arch in Rome, situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312.  Dedicated in 315, it is the largest Roman triumphal arch.  The arch spans the Via Triumphalis, the way taken by the emperors when they entered the city in triumph.”

Via di San Gregorio

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The street leading to the arch and the Colosseum was also a pretty amazing site with umbrella pines lining each side.  As mentioned before, this street was once called Via Triumphalis.


 

Day 2:

Day 2 in Rome led us to the Vatican City, the world’s smallest state and home of the Pope.  The trek from our apartment to the Vatican was a long one, but like everything else in Italy, it was a beautiful one…

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Vatican City

We actually had the opportunity to hear the Pope speak, but our ticket into the Vatican museum was for 8:30AM so we there instead.

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My grandmother visited the Vatican and said they ate their picnic lunch under the pillars on the right side.  I was hoping to get a photo of Brittany and I there, but the area under those pillars is now lined with security checkpoints much like an airport.  You have to remove items and pass them through a scanner before entering…so much for the sweet, reminiscent picture.  Brittany and I had no idea how to get to the museum, but we assumed we had to go through the security line with everyone else…not so.  Security was to get into the main area to hear the Pope.  To get to the museum, you basically have to walk around to the back of the Vatican…not too far, but far enough when you think you’re going to miss your entrance time.  There was a fairly long line at the entrance, but because we had pre-purchased, we were led right in.

There were some absolutely beautiful sight inside the Vatican Museum…

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And some gorgeous views…

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And some awesome statues…

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A little theatre for good measure…

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But you weren’t allowed to take photos inside of the Sistine Chapel.  I understand it’s a chapel and a “holy place,” but they’ve obviously had professional photographers there before so what really gives…I guess you have to pay a little bit more money for that privilege.  Sorry, mom, couldn’t get a photo for you.  I really wanted to be able to use the camera for another reason as well…it really hurts your neck to look up at the chapel after a while, I wanted to take a photo of some points of interest to study later.  Also, I wanted to zoom in with the camera to see some of the finer details my eyes just couldn’t quite pick up on.

The gardens around the museum…

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One of my favorite parts of the museum was the dual staircase leading to the exit…breathtaking, but difficult to photograph…

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We left Vatican City in search of other wonders…(and lunch)…neither were very hard to find.

Fontana di Trevi

There is way more history to the Trevi Fountain than I can tell in this blog, but the fountain’s current look was completed in 1762.  It is one of the most famous fountains in the world.

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Legend says that to make a wish you are to throw a coin in the fountain using your right hand over your left shoulder, which of course we did.  Wikipedia states that “An estimated 3,000 Euros are thrown into the fountain each day.  The money has been used to subsidize a supermarket for Rome’s needy.”  So all wishing aside…I was happy to donate.

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We left the fountain and found gelato and Pinocchio!

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We got a lot done in day two…as we often do, we wandered into our next spot.  We had been able to see a set of statues from several places in the city, so we headed that way.  Before we got there, however, we ran into…

Trajan’s Column

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The column was “completed in AD 113…the freestanding column is most famous for its spiral base relief, which artistically describes the epic wars between the Romans and Dacians,” according to Wikipedia.

Altare della Patria

The “Altar of the Fatherland is a monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy, located in Rome, Italy.  It was inaugurated in 1911 and completed in 1925.  The monument holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame, built under the statue of goddess Roma after World War I.”  As usual…this information comes from Wikipedia.

The two statues of the goddess Victoria are the statues we were able to see from several points in the city.

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I love my lion statues…

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The eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier…

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You can go inside of the Altar and it leads to the rooftop with an amazing view of Rome to the west…

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And of Rome from the southeast…

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It also provided a few different angles to some of the sites we had seen already…

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We left the alter and headed back to the Colosseum.  FYI, it was really cool in the shade and really hot in the sun, but that’s okay because it let me show off some Nashville Children’s Theatre love!

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And, of course, we ended the day with a fantastic Italian meal from Pastamore…

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If you’ve followed this blog for a while you may remember a little game between Brittany and I called WCBDOMC (Who Chooses the Better Dish Off the Menu Challenge).  So you may be wondering who won this night…the answer is simple…the wine…the wine won, because only in Italy is the house wine actually made in house.

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Day 3 (also known as the day we got the camera back):

This was our day to actually go inside of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum.

Il Colosseo

Point #1 – It was raining…and cold…

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According to what we read inside, the building’s official name is the Flavian Amphitheatre, and as depicted in many movies, books, etc. was “used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology.”  – Wikipedia.  Some of the destruction of the building is due to time and Mother Nature, but much of the damage was caused when the building was used as a quarry.

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There are a few placarded areas inside the Colosseum that act as a guide.  One of these areas suggests that the following image was rather like a doodle made by a spectator of his / her favorite gladiator.

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I really loved all of the different layers that were visible from the inside…

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A view of the Arch of Constantine from within the Colosseum…

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A view of some of the damage evident on the Northeastern face of the Colosseum…

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The sun finally came out as we were leaving…

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A view of just how ginormous this thing was…

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Palatino

Entrance to Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum were also included in our ticket to the Colosseum, and had the entrance to the Roman Forum been open we would have skipped Palatine Hill altogether.  Afterwards, we were both glad the entrance was closed and we were forced to walk through Palatino.

Palatine Hill is full of beauty and mythology.  It is said this is where Romulus and Remus where found.  It is where Hercules defeated Cacus.  It is where ancient beauty still stands.

The Palatine Stadium…

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Crescent-shaped shield patterns still remain on the palace floors…

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In the picture above, you can see a statue to the left of the entrance.  Below is a close-up of that statue…

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Foro Romano

I did “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” in college, so I knew there was this thing called a Forum that was in Rome somewhere, but I hadn’t ever put much actual thought into it.  My mistake.  Sure the Sistine Chapel is beautiful and the Colosseum is a wonder, but, for me, the Roman Forum is the thing you have to see.  It is surreal to walk through the streets of an ancient civilization.  To see where their breathtaking structures stood.  To stand near where Julius Caesar was cremated.  To feel history.  I would have to write a book, a long…long book, to encompass everything we saw here…I won’t do that in this blog, but I can’t help putting as many of these images in as I can.

First up….the Arch of Titus, which was constructed in 82 AD to commemorate Titus’ victories.  It is the first thing you see entering the forum from the south-east.

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A panoramic view of the center section of the forum.  The Arch of Titus and the Colosseum can be seen in the far right.  The Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine is the large building in the center (it was actually the largest building in the forum and once housed the Colossus of Constantine).

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Brittany and I in front of a grown-over fountain.

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Another wide shot.  On the far right is the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine (as mentioned above).  The circular building in the center was the Temple of Romulus, but was converted to a church, Santi Cosma e Damiano.  Restorations in 1947 converted the circular portion back to its original form.  On the left, the building fronted with pillars, is the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina.

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The Temple of Vesta.  The placard with this relic states: “Here the Vestal Virgins tended the sacred fire which was to burn perpetually as a symbol of the city’s life force.”  It further states that “the current remains date to the period of Septimius Severus, who restored the building after the fire in AD 191.”

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The Temple of Castor and Pollux, better known to us as Gemini (twins).  Castor and Pollux were the twin sons of Zeus and Leda.

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At the western end of the forum is the Temple of Saturn.  Originally dedicated in 497 BC, fires have brought it to its current state.

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A wide view including the Temple of Saturn on the right and the Temple of Vespasian and Titus is on the left.  The center building was outside of the forum but I believe it is part of the Chiesa dei Santi Luca e Martina.

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The single column is the Column of Phocas.  It was the last addition made to the Roman Forum.  Behind the column and to its right is the Arch of Septimius Severus, which was “dedicated in AD 203 to commemorate the Parthian victories of Emperor Septimius Severusand his two sons, Caracalla and Geta.” – Wikipedia  On the far right is the Chiesa dei Santi Luca e Martina again.

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The view of the Colosseum from the hill where the Temple of Venus and Roma once stood.

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Teatro di Pompeo

After leaving the Roman Forum we decided to find some theatre relics (I mean come on…we had to).  We discovered that we weren’t very far from the Theatre of Pompey, so we set out…and got lost.  Our map to the theatre led us to a very small, dark alley, and we searched said alley thoroughly…to no avail.  However, after wandering the general vicinity a bit, we realized we had already passed the site without realizing it (it’s really easy to do in an area where everything is ancient).  The preserved site has very little of the actual theatre left.  Much of what’s left is below buildings, in wine cellars, or building into the surrounding buildings.  The area that remains contains mostly temples.

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The area has also become a cat sanctuary…which made Brittany very happy.

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One huge piece of history worth noting at this site…this is where Julius Caesar was murdered.  And, according to the placard,  that took place in the area pictured below.  Interesting day…getting to see where Julius Caesar was murdered and cremated.

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Pantheon

After ducking into a coffee shop to warm up and caffeine up, we headed back toward the apartment.  Our path took us beside the Pantheon, so we stopped in on that site as well. This first photo was actually taken from our table at dinner.

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The inside of the Pantheon was pretty dark, so it made taking photos difficult, but I did want to throw this one in…it Raphael’s tomb.  I know it’s tough to read, but the inscription apparently reads “Here lies that famous Raphael by whom Nature feared to be conquered while he lived, and when he was dying, feared herself to die.”

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Trevi Fountain at night

Our path home led us back to the Trevi Fountain so we stopped to see it at night…

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I love this statue…I know he’s wresting with the horse’s bridle, but it really looks like he’s uppercutting the horse.

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Well…that was Roma in a few days.  Like I said, there is more than enough to keep someone busy for a lifetime here.  I could have gladly spend the whole day with a book about the Roman Forum in one hand and a camera in the other…or to be able to look under the city at the ruins of the Theatre of Pompey…yeah, it’s amazing.  Sorry the post was so long, but hopefully it gives you an idea of how much fun we had.  Next up…Napoli!

Back in the proverbial saddle…

I suppose I’m going to find out rather quickly if this whole blogging thing is like riding a bike…you know the old adage…about once you learn, you never forget.  I guess a brief explanation of my absence is in order too.  Simply put…I got deported.  Well, not really, but close enough.  Turns out when the government says that it could take three months to process your paperwork, they really mean it will take the entire three months to process your paperwork…even if you need said paperwork to stay in the country.  So that’s it in a nutshell, my paperwork wasn’t processed in time so I had to return to America for three months…which turned out pretty well since it meant I got to spend the holidays with family.  And Brittany came back for a couple of weeks over Christmas as well.  If you ever need information about a Family Reunification Visa in Italy, I’m the man to ask.

Back to the blog…turns out it’s not as easy to get back into the swing of things as I thought it would be.  I got back to Italy on February 25th and we went on a southern tour of Italy four days later.  The easiest way to get around here is by train, so we took an inter-city train to Rome…sounds easy right.  Well, it was easy…except for the fact that I fell asleep during the train ride and when I awoke…I completely forgot about our camera, which I had tucked underneath my seat.  Don’t worry, I remembered it…roughly thirty minutes after the train had departed the Rome station.  So here’s that story…

After walking, with suitcases, about thirty minutes, I saw a cool little garden and wanted to snap a photo.  That’s when I realized I didn’t have the camera.  Now, normally, I am OCD when it comes to the camera…I check to make sure I have it 20 or 30 times a minute…but I usually don’t fall asleep on the train…so I blame that (really it was just my stupidity though).  Anyway, we rushed back to the Rome station and found a Customer Service desk.  Luckily the lady there spoke excellent English and we were able to convey my stupidity.  She was skeptical that we would be able to get the camera back because she thought someone probably claimed it as their own by that point.  But she called the train and they found it.  Now…here’s where the story gets convoluted.  Inter-city Italian train don’t have a lost-and-found.  But she spoke with the conductor of that train and he/she said that he/she would be coming back through Rome that night and wanted us to meet them at the other station when they came back through.  At this point we were so relieved that someone had the camera we really weren’t thinking straight; so instead of having someone put our Italian phone number on the camera bag (just in case) we headed out determined to meet the conductor later on that evening.  Turns out the station we were meeting the conductor was not in the best part of town, but we made it there about an hour early just to make sure we could find it.  When the designated train came into the station, no one on board had any idea when we were talking about.  These trains are on very tight routines so we had roughly five minutes to ask everyone we could find…the only bit of information we could get…go talk to the police that worked at the station.  So we did…none of the police officers spoke any English (I should clarify that we didn’t expect them to speak English…we are in Italy after all), but they were all really, really helpful.  Thank you Google Translate.  We went back and forth explaining the situation using our phones for about an hour, but the end result was that they didn’t know what to do.  An employee of the train station had our camera, but we had no idea who that was.  The police recommended that we go to the train station customer service again and speak with them…only they were closed by that point.  So we walked home in the cold with no camera.  I was so mad at myself, but Brittany was great.  She kept telling me that it was just a thing and we were in Rome, to forget about it and be happy.  I tried, but I couldn’t help running through the scenario over and over again.  First there was my initial stupidity.  Then to find out someone has the camera.  Then to realize we didn’t get that someone’s name, nor did we give them ours.  All the possibilities just frustrated me so much…I couldn’t sleep.  We had already booked our ticket to see Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel, so the next morning we got up and went there first.  I was still upset with myself…here we are at the Vatican and we only have our phones for a camera…but my mind was eased a bit by the fact that you weren’t allowed to take photos inside of the Sistine Chapel.  After that we headed to the nearest train station to try and speak with someone.  When we arrived, there was only one other person at customer service and there were two counters open, so we went to the open counter.  Fate…luck…whatever it was brought us to that counter.  We started explaining what happened to the lady and she stopped us midway through.  Somehow, randomly, one of her good friends was the person who had our camera.  She had spoken with the friend that morning about having a camera bag that was supposed to be picked up but never was and how she wasn’t sure what to do with it.  It was like mana from heaven…she took our name and number and told us she would get back in touch with her friend and find a way to get us our camera.  And she did.  About an hour later she called to tell us we could pick the camera up from the train station the next morning.  We went the following morning sure enough it was there…

I’m not sure why the process was as convoluted as it was, or why there is no lost-and-found…I mean I get it if someone leaves a pack of gum, but for luggage or a camera or something like that…but the situation was resolved.  And everyone we dealt with was very helpful.  I guess the moral of the story is don’t leave your stuff on a train.  I’m just thankful we got it back.

Pictures (from the famously lost camera) and Blogs about the trip to follow!

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