Ruminations on Rome (4)

Sunday in Rome is still a bustling day full of locals and tourists thronging the streets and cafes, but Silvia and I took it easier this morning while going on another tour in the afternoon.  So this morning we left the hotel almost an hour later than yesterday and headed for the banks of the River Tiber. It was so sunny and mild that Silvia wore sandals and sunglasses – in mid November.

We eventually reached Piazza Navona again and this time headed for the south of the square where the Museum of Rome is located. We had noticed yesterday that there was an exhibition entitled “War Is Over” to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and we wanted to see it today because most museums are closed on Mondays.

It was an especially fascinating exhibition for us because our Italian mother lived in Naples throughout the war before meeting our father who was in the country with what he called “the forces of liberation” and she termed “the forces of occupation”.  The exhibition was mostly photographs taken by an Italian state organisation and an American military organisation and they reflected the impact of the war on both military and civilians and the complexities of the situation in which Italy changed sides in 1943.

Like yesterday, in early afternoon we were collected from the hotel and taken to tour company offices but this time we took some lunch with us – club sandwich for me and salmon bagel for Silvia. To our surprise, we had the same guide as yesterday. In my last blog posting, I described him as old and today we learned just how old – an amazingly fit and bright 85.

The tour was called “Imperial Rome” and focused on “the Roman remainings” in the old forum.  First though we drove through Piazza Venezia which is home to the gigantic Vittorio Emanuele II monument (usually called “The Wedding Cake”) and Palazzo Venezia from whose balcony Mussolini used to exhort the joys of Fascism.

Next we drove through the Roman Forum, observing pagan temples and arches of triumph before halting at the imposing remains of the Colosseum.  Inside the structure, our guide explained how it was built by 30,000 slaves in just eight years (72-80 AD), accommodated 50,000 spectators, and was officially called the Flavian Amphitheatre.  Of course, we had all seen the film “Gladiator” but we were informed about some of the realities of events in the colosseum.

Next stop was the Capitoline Hill with a statue of a wolf suckling Romulus and Remus and its equestrian statue of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius plus good views down to the Roman Forum as the sun set and thousands of starlings swirled overhead. Our final destination was the Church of Saint Peter in Chains which houses chains which apparently held Peter and an impressive sculpture of Moses by the prolific Michelangelo.

As yesterday, once the tour was over, Silvia and I stopped at a cafe for a drink and then later found a restaurant for dinner. This evening we ate at a place called “Porto di Ripetta” close to Piazza del Popolo where I had fillet steak in red wine sauce and Silvia had spaghetti with clams. Another very satisfying  day.



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