Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Rome - Ancient City, Piazzas, and Fountains

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

This morning we had an organized tour of the Colosseum and Forum. This is the Rome that everyone wants to see, and we were very glad that we were on a tour, since this lets us bypass the ticket lines. Tours also have their own entrance lines. What we did in the morning would have taken all day if you are not on a tour or do not hire an authorized tour guide.

The exterior of the Colosseum. While earthquakes are responsible for some of the damage, most of the missing pieces were "recycled" into other buildings after the fall of Rome.
The interior of the Colosseum is the interesting part. There were two levels under the large arena to hold gladiators, prisoners, and wild beasts. As for seating, the structure is very much like a large modern football stadium -- to a large extent function dictates form.
Near the Colosseum is the Roman Forum. You can see in this photo that it sits amid a lot of much newer buildings. There are lots of interesting structures to see in this area, but good photos are difficult to take.
After lunch, Lon and I spent the afternoon wandering on our own. We visited several of Rome's classic piazzas and fountains.

The Fontana del Tritone (Triton Fountain) in the Piazza Barberini.
The Pantheon was built by the Romans as a temple to all the gods, and became a church in the Middle Ages. The building is essentially a 142 ft diameter sphere. Some of the columns were "recycled" from Egyptian temples. Even back then, transporting finished pieces over the sea was easier than making them on site. The dome is the inspiration for many others, including St. Peter's Basilica and the U.S. Capitol.
We stumbled upon the Largo Argentina site while walking between the Pantheon and Campo de' Fiori. It is a large excavation of temples discovered in the 1920s.
A nearby cat sanctuary probably accounted for the large number of cats we saw near the Largo Argentina.
The streets in this part of Rome are narrow and winding.
Piazza Navona is one of Rome's largest piazzas. It was originally a racetrack built around 80 AD. This was probably my favorite area in Rome. It has three fountains, lots of space, many interesting churches in the area, and a large number of places to eat.
Fontana del Moro in Piazza Navona.
Pigeons love the Fontana del Quattro Fiumi (Four Rivers Fountain) in the middle of Piazza Navona. The fountain supports an Egyptian-style obelisk and is one of the most famous Roman fountains.
The north end of Piazza Navona is the Fontana del Nettuno (Neptune Fountain).
We wandered into Chiesa di Sant'Antonio dei Portoghesi because we heard the organ being played. The music was unremarkable, but even churches not marked in the guidebooks have impressive interiors.
The Colonna dell'Immacolata is near the Piazza di Spagna. The column dates from Roman times, but (obviously) the statue of the Virgin Mary was added much later (1857).
Many restaurants proudly display their fresh ingredients to attract customers.

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