Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rome: The Forum

Today was much simpler than that past few days have been: We took the Metro one stop and visited the Forum. This was something Ed was had especially wanted to see, and we spent most of the day exploring the Forum.

We had a fantastic day for it: The weather was sunny, without a cloud in the sky, and temperatures in the upper 50s. The pathways were easy to navigate and mostly flat, with only some small hills. Much of the Forum was roped off, but likewise there were lots of big stones where one could sit. Signs in both Italian and English were strategically placed.

And there were so many things to see that I couldn't keep track of them all, but we saw the Tabernae at the front of the Basilica Aemilia and what remains of the Basilica itself; the Forum Squarel the Shrine of Venus Cloacina; the Curia, where the Senate met; where Julius Caesar was assassinated (and the temple that commemorates this event); the Lacus Curtius; and the Temple of Saturn:

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

One of the more interesting sites was the Umbilicus Urbis, the symbolic center of the city; it was the place where he world of the living came into contact with the underworld through a crack in the ground. The Urbis is this round brick structure, dating to restoration work in the early 3rd century AD. (the Severan period), reusing older materials. You can see the door on the left.

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)
One of the things I was reminded of was the ways in which the Christians usurped much of the territory, as in the case of the the Church of Santi Luca and Martina next to Arch of Septimius Sevirus.
From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

In another case,the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina was converted to the a church (San Lorenzo in Miranda); later, Pope Urban V reused construction materials from inside the church to restore the Lateran Palace.

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

The only real downside to today, if one can even call it that, is the sheer number of times we were accosted with offers - to book a tour, to buy a selfie stick (which are ubiquitous beyond belief) or a bracelet from a new father, to buy something, even if it's the chance of being photographed with a gladiator.
From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

We were introduced to the concept of selfie sticks pretty quickly, and they do seem to be sold every couple of feet, especially near the tourist attractions we've been visiting. We've also been approached often in the hopes of being sold a tour - especially in St. Peter's Square, where we were confronted multiple times in a row ("Have you seen the museums?" is a common question, and one to which I can honestly answer "Yes, thank you." I need not mention that the last time I've visited a Vatican museum was in the late 1980s.)

Tonight at dinner, though, added to the fun, when a gentleman came into the restaurant and up to our table and asked us if we wanted to "help" him by buying a rose. Not five minutes later, a trio came in and started playing music in the hopes of contributions.

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