Il Primo Giorno: Ancient Rome

“What we do in life echoes in eternity.” – Maximus

eternal flame for the unknown soldier

The crux of the ruins and the Forum lie behind Via Venezia and the monument dedicated to Emmanuelle Vittorio II, Italy’s first king.  Manny must have made quite a splash—his monument is enormous featuring detailed carvings of battle shields and arms.  Military stands guard 24/7 watching over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the flame a cenotaph and reminder that not all those who fall in the name of peace are known.

All roads lead to Rome...the phrase stems from the Romans expert construction abilities. What better evidence, then the Colosseum. One of the most renowned tourist attractions in Rome, it is quite impressive on the approach, the elliptical shape ominous and majestic from a distance. It makes the Roman skyline almost mystical. A good portion of the original structure of the Colosseum was destroyed in a series of earthquakes, and you can see where the original foundation began from the band of white floor stones just outside the entrance. From the travertine stone to the Tuscan columns with Doric, Ionic and Corinthian detail, there is no doubt why the Colosseum’s structure will remain an architectural achievement.

il colosseo

This landmark has been a focal point not only in history books but in contemporary art, literature and entertainment and it’s hard not to envision caged men and beasts entering through the arches into the city (like Maximus perhaps?). The fervor of a hungry audience (much like today’s reality television viewers) rumbling with excitement.  Imagining an audience of 50,000 spectators (across all economic levels, tickets were distributed to all the people of Rome) crowding the Colosseum just to be a part of the spectacle. The highlight of their week: the humiliation and death games.


Ill prepared this first day on how much to carry and what to wear (obviously NOT a long sleeved shirt with a light corduroy jacket and scarf), I probably should have waited until I was well rested before visiting the Colosseum. I fell victim to the “unscrupulous private guides” lurking the entrance perimeter, and paid an additional 4€ to participate in an English-speaking tour that nearly put me to sleep.


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