Barring two people whom I had seen during two weeks in Israel, I hadn't seen anyone I knew (much less anyone I was related to) face-to-face for the prior eight months! Family reunion! We met in the "lobby" of our hotel in Rome - Hotel Continentale on Via Palestro nearby to the train station.
They basically had traveled all of the previous night and had gotten little sleep, but time while traveling is precious so we set out immediately for our jam-packed day of sight-seeing.
We headed Southwest toward the Roman Forum.
|My family and Caesar pose for a reunion picture - it's been a long time since we've seen Caesar.|
We would wind around back at the Ancient Roman sights/sites after the Synagogue, but we couldn't help but get distracted by some of them along the way. First there was Trajan's Column.
|I assume that guy at the top of the column is Trajan.|
The column depicts the military victories of Trajan in a continuous spiral relief sculpture that spans every inch of the cylinder which is very impressive.
|What a relief!|
|It's really lucky that Trajan's Column was the one that survived - these other ones weren't nearly so impressive.|
|It's very nice.|
|Ilana was better equipped to handle the rain - dad got wet.|
|We photograph well.|
The rain stopped, and we finally made it to the Great Synagogue of Rome.
|It quickly became clear that mom's favorite parts of Italy were going to relate to Judaism.|
|Someone on the internet broke the rules, but I'm glad they did because the sanctuary was beautiful.|
After the Synagogue, we walked two blocks away to the main street of the former Jewish Ghetto of Rome where there is now a wealth of Kosher restaurants and Judaica shops. One delicacy they had in plenty was artichokes - I wonder if that is because there was a particular affinity for artichokes in the Rome Jewish community, or if artichokes are just popular in Rome - either way they were delicious.
|There it is!|
Note: The ancient Roman amphitheater in Rome can be spelled either Colosseum or Coliseum.
The Colosseum was a Roman amphitheater used for entertainment. Entertainment in Roman times consisted infinitely more of killing human beings in one way or another than today. The wait to enter the Colosseum can be well over an hour, but if you are on a guided tour, which costs a few euros extra, one can bypass this wait in addition to receiving the tour. I would have no reference point from which to compare our tour to any others that are privately provided, but the tour provided by the Colosseum ticketing booth was top notch. We were granted access to the reconstructed portion of the original floor of the amphitheater and to the topmost accessible story of the structure, so I'd assume it's better than the private tour companies trying to sell tours outside the entrance.
Once inside, we had some time to kill before our tour started (but at least we weren't still standing in line). Ilana and i took some great pictures of each other next to a wall.
Then we asked our dad to take a picture with the wall, so he did this:
|Those arches in the background lead to the concession stands where the ancients sold nachos/all-beef hot dogs.|
I remember learning in high school Latin class that they would flood the Coliseum with water and stage naval battles inside the bowl of the stadium, but I never believed it. Even our tour guide who mentioned that it was thought by historians that they did this, admitted that no one knows how they would have done it. I think what happened was some ancient Roman was trying to write in his 1st Century C.E diary how awesome it would be if they flooded the coliseum with water and staged a naval battle, instead he wrote how awesome it was when they flooded the coliseum with water and staged a naval battle. Latin is very hard, it can confuse you very easily. I'm sure he was just confused.
|See what I'm talking about? The water would leak out through all these holes!!|
Over the many centuries, the Coliseum turned into a quarry where the people of Rome would come to strip building materials from its deteriorating shell. To preserve it, and to memorialize the Christians who died here, a Pope made it a holy site.
|That's why there's a cross here.|
|You know what? I'm going to have to call you back... yeah I'm about to watch this lion totally eat a former slave.|
|View back towards the Piazza Venezia.|
|This is the Roman Forum which was our next stop after the Coliseum.|
|See that little area of whitish grayish stones over the left portion of the stage area? Those are the last remaining marble seats of the Amphitheater.|
|It's like they didn't clean up after themselves at all. No WONDER they call them "ruins"!|
But seriously, it was cool to be in the former seat of Roman power, despite the mess. One major attraction was the Arch of Titus. Built in the year 82 to commemorate the Emperor's brother Titus's death. It depicts Titus's victories and in particular the conquest/siege of Jerusalem. It depicts Jews carrying the Menorah of the Holy Temple to Rome in submission. When the State of Israel was established, local Rabbis paraded the local Jewish Community in the opposite direction as the depicted march - signifying a return from the diaspora.
|There it is.|
|Other than depicting Jews as slaves - it's a pretty impressive arch.|
|I was entertained...|
Exhausted, we taxied back to our hotel on Via Palestro. Unfortunately, due to our hotel's proximity to the center of Rome, we were not going to be spending much time in the public squares at night, which are supposed to be very beautiful and lively. Instead, after having dinner nearby to our hotel, we strolled down to the Piazza della Repubblica, and although it's no Piazza Navona - it was still beautiful.
|Great first day!|