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To say that it was hot inside the Colosseum and on top of the Palatine Hill today is quite an understatement. Water consumption could not keep up with water depletion. Someone could have made a fortune mining natural salt today. As Rhonda, our friend, said at the completion of the tour, “We’ve been to hell and back!”
All that aside, the day was glorious. One stood in awe of the accomplishments of the Roman civilization dating from 2000 to 2800 years ago. The Colosseum, a nickname derived from the giant colossus of Emperor Nero which stood outside, is a marvel of engineering and construction that seated 75,000 and where half a million gladiators and criminals died by one another’s hand or by wild animals. One factoid–we have the thumbs up and down all wrong. Thumbs up meant “send the defeated gladiator to heaven” and thumbs down meant “put away your sword and let him live.”
The Forum was the center of the Roman empire, the place where huge celebrations in honor of victories in battle were held, where the Roman Senate met and where Caesar spoke. All around us stood archways and ancient streets, massive columns and pagan temples. We saw the spot of which it is said, “All roads lead to Rome”; where Mark Anthony spoke after the murder of Julius Caesar; where victorious armies marched–history came alive!
Palatine Hill was the highest point of Rome and the place where the huge palace (the name derived from Palatine) of Caesar was constructed. Today it is mostly a ruin, but the immensity of the palace can be detected. Completely clad in varied colored marble, the home contained its own stadium so that Caesar could watch chariot races without mixing with the 250,000 who were watching the same thing at the hippodrome.
Later in the afternoon our tour continued at the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain (scaffolding down after an extensive repair but water not yet returned), the Pantheon (the most complete building remaining from antiquity) and St. Ignatius Church with its amazing false cupola.
A lot of water, some tea, a little beer and a decent amount of gelato made the heat go away at the end of a great day. – August 30, 2015 – WEG