Visit to Rome (3)

On our second day in Rome, we had a clear theme: the Roman era. Again we were out for a full eight hours.

We started by spending the morning at the Colosseum where we had a male guide who told us horrific stories of the slaughter of Christians, prisoners and gladiators for the pleasure of the masses in the earliest case of dictators dispensing ‘bread and circuses’. It was all started by the Emperor Nero in 80 AD and the blood continued to flow for more than 300 years.  It was impossible to visit this place and hear these stories and not think of the wonderful film “Gladiator”.

We had lunch at a restaurant opposite the Colosseum called “La Biga”. This name does not mean what you might think; it is the Italian word for the type of one-person chariot used in the race sequence in the film “Ben Hur”.

We then started the afternoon with a guided tour of the Forum. Our female guide told us the mythical story of the foundation of Rome when  Rhea Silvia was raped by a god and gave birth to the twins Romulus and Remus. Clearly the need for the #MeToo movement goes back a long way. The Forum ruins include many temples and three triumphal arches.

After our time at the Forum, we walked round to Piazza Venetia, the location of the Victor Emmanuel II monument which is so huge and multi-layered that it is popularly known as ‘the wedding cake’. In the square, we found a gelataria where we had enormously expensive but hugely delicious ice cream dishes.

Finally we wandered over to the Capitoline Hill. This lovely quiet square was designed by Michelangelo and features an equestrian statue of the emperor/philosopher Marcus Aurelius.

Throughout the afternoon, the weather became cooler and overcast. Then, just as we went out for our evening meal, there was a ferocious thunderstorm with heavy hail [see here], but fortunately we managed to find a restaurant very close by.


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