Archive for the ‘Rome’ Category

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“When in Rome, do as the Romans do” – St. Ambrose

Vatican City is an enclave of Rome, the capital of Italy and central of the Lazo region, bordered by the Tiber River and lies about 15 miles from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Rome is the oldest continuously populated city in the world referred to as the “Eternal City” as it dates back to 6oo B.C. The Romans were the first civilization to use concrete and arch, they also invented central heating and would warm rooms from under the floor using what was called a hypocaust, literally “heat from below.” Homes of some rich people had both running water and central heating.

The streets of Rome are very pretty with lots of sculptures of gods and fountains that made strolling very inviting and to fill your lungs with Roman air but prior to getting out of the bus our tour guide kept bombarding us with word of caution from pickpockets and mugging. He told us if our valuables got snatched forget about running after the thief because you’ll get mugged in the corner of the street for his additional reinforcements. Also, he told us of the newspaper story of what happened to their travel competitor who lost the whole tourist bus on the visit to this city. Nonetheless this didn’t spoil my visit to Roma.

Our first stop was the Colosseum or the Flavian Amphitheatre, built of concrete and stone, considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering, the Colosseum in Italy only took 9 years to build using over 60,000 Jewish slaves. It is the largest amphitheatre in the world and host gladiatorial shows as well as a variety of other events. ‘Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained?’ In the olden days the Colosseum is where to go to, to be entertained. It has over 80 entrances and can accommodate about 50,000 spectators. All Ancient Romans had free entry to the Colosseum for events, and was also fed throughout the show. During its history, it has been estimated that over 500,000 people and over a million animals were killed there. It consisted of a two-level subterranean network of tunnels and cages beneath the arena where gladiators and animals were held before contests began. Today the arena floors was gone, the tunnels and cages beneath are very evident in overview

Just opposite the main entrance to the Colosseum is the Velia Hill where the  Temple of Venus stands dedicated to the goddesses Venus Felix (“Venus the Bringer of Good Fortune”) In between is the The Arch of Constantine, a triumphal arch erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312.After winning his battle, Constantine dutifully converted the Roman Empire to Christianity and, upon his deathbed, converted himself. This arch is similar to the Arch standing in Champs Elysee.

We had lunch near the Fontana di Trevi. This is where the famous gelato shop is also located.  This fountain is the most famous and the most beautiful in all in Rome. It was designed as a monumental triumphal arch and built against a wall of the Palazzo Poli. The central figure of the fountain is a large sculpture of Neptune, god of the sea. He rides a shell-shaped chariot that is pulled by two sea horses. Our local tour guide mentioned this old age tradition that you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the fountain. You should toss it with your right hand over your left shoulder with your back to the fountain without looking behind.

I remember being in senior highs school and studying about Ancient History of Egypt and Rome. Understanding their society and social rules such as not owning slaves was a sign of extreme poverty. Crimes such as treason or desertion were punishable by beheading or crucifixion. Only criminals without Roman citizenship (such as Jesus Christ) were crucified because that death was so slow and painful. A man could lose Roman citizenship if he deserted the army, mutilated himself so he could not serve, or avoided  census to evade taxation. Girls were expected to marry at the age of 13 or 14 in arranged marriages but divorce was quick and easy. Just utter to your partner this Latin phrase “Tuas res tibi habeto.” (“Keep what’s yours for yourself.”) If there were any children, they remained with the father, though the dowry was returned to the woman provided she had not committed adultery. Above all, this is new to me –that Rome has a museum dedicated to pasta. The National Museum of Pasta spans 11 rooms and two floors located behind Piazza Fontana di Trevi at the foot of the Quiranal Hill.