Rome: A City of Great History, Art, Beauty and Contrasts
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My wife Laura, our son Simon and I arrived early in the morning on Wed. July 23 at our hotel in the ancient and modern city unsure of what to expect. We were tired from 11 hours of traveling, but too excited to do anything, but go and walk around. We met up with the rest of Laura’s family who had arrived a few hours earlier and we walked 3 blocks and saw this…the Roman Colosseum. Although it is enormous it didn’t get its name from the fact that it was huge. It was named for a huge, 120 ft. statue of the Roman Emperor Nero that used to stand just outside of its walls. The Colosseum was built over approximately 6 years in the year 70 AD….we live in 2014 AD. We looked up at this structure as our jaws dropped at its size and magnificence. This structure that has been standing for more the 1900 years took my breath away! Buildings that are 2 or 3 hundred years old in our country are considered old! Not in Italy. Old has a whole different meaning!
When we took a tour, we learned that the Colosseum was built to house games for the citizens of Rome. All citizens of Rome were welcome to attend for free as long as they had a ticket. Here is where one of the contrasts or even contradictions that I alluded to lies…This almost two millennia old structure that stood as a symbol of the great architectural skill and might of the Roman Empire to the world housed “games” that are estimated to have allowed attendees over almost 400 years to witness the deaths of 500,000 people and over a million animals! The games held there are believed to have led to the extinction of hippos, rhinos, elephants, lions and numerous other animals in northern Africa and elsewhere.
We walked around the structure that may have held as many as 50,000 people at a time and were struck by its beauty and found ourselves wondering what it might have been like to be there when the games were going on as a spectator and as a Gladiator or other person forced to fight other people or wild animals. The games would last up to 100 days in a row! When we left we were left with a decision, what were we to do after that? What everyone else does in Rome when they are hungry: eat!
We were very excited and hungry after walking around so all 8 of us sat down at one of the many outdoor restaurants to eat, what else? Pasta! I told you it is a land of contrasts! The modern restaurants and roads circle, go under, through and over the ruins and not so ruined relics of centuries past. Where we ate was a street lined with motor scooters, motorcycles and modern cars, but with a clear view of the Colosseum and the Ancient Roman Forum (a central meeting place, site of government buildings and market where the rest of Ancient Rome was built). The food was wonderful for the most part and this is what some point in most of Simon’s and our meals looked like. With our appetites for adventure and learning whetted and our hunger sated we looked forward to more adventures to come!
~ Mr. Bresnahan