Kathryn and Ken's European Vacation
All photos are the property of Ken Runquist and have been reduced in size for faster downloading.  The originals are 1280 x 960.  Contact me by email if you would like a larger size copy of any photo.
Day 39: Rome, Italy
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Day 36: Venice, Italy
Day 37: Venice, Italy
Day 38: Rome, Italy
Day 39: Rome, Italy
Day 40: Rome, Italy
Day 41: Rome Italy
Day 42: Florence, Italy
Day 43: Tirrenia (Pisa), Italy



Hotel Contilia


Sunny and hot with a high of 25C


Day 39: Friday, October 13, 2006     Rome, Italy

The Colossal Coliseum

I had to buy a Thesaurus for this website.  Rome is filled with so many breath-taking buildings, churches, fountains, piazzas, statues, etc. that I started to run out of words to describe them all.  We started the day with a very good complementary breakfast in the hotel.  We then walked a couple of km southwest from our hotel.  We passed through the Parco di Traiano which contains Domus Aurea, Nero's Golden House.  At the other side of the park we came upon the Colosseum (Coliseum).  It is a truly spectacular site.  Now a mere shell, the Coliseum still remains the greatest architectural legacy from ancient Rome.  The Coliseum was constructed in 72-80 AD.  Although much of it is gone - it's iron and marble were looted to build other monuments in Rome - there is still much to see.  There was a huge line-up so we paid 21 each (which included the 10 admission charge) to join a tour.  We used a separate entrance and did not have to wait very long to get in.  Unfortunately our guide's English was very poor, she did not seem to know much - she kept repeating the same things over and over - and her microphone and our earphones were constantly malfunctioning.  We stopped at another group who had a very knowledgeable guide and followed them.  We learned a lot from this guide.  In its day, it had elevators and underground tunnels which could be filled with water and naval battles where staged inside the Coliseum.   See the slide show below for photos of the Coliseum.  For more information on the Colosseum go to http://www.italyguides.it/us/roma/colosseum.htm

This panorama of the inside of the Coliseum was formed by stitching together four of my individual photos.  For a larger view click here.

Our tour fee also included a free guided tour of the Palatine hills.   Legend says the Palatine is the site of the original village founded by Romulus and Remus.  Unfortunately we just missed the 12:00 noon tour and the next one didn't leave until 2:00 pm.  We walked down to Circus Maximus which was built for chariot races.  It is just a large grasses field now.  We came back and had lunch (pizza and beer) in a restaurant across the street from the Coliseum.  We met the rest of our tour group and our New Zealand guide Ryan at the Coliseum exit.  The Palatine is one of the most pleasant archaeological sites of the city, shaded with pines and overgrown with light vegetation and Ryan gave us an interesting, informative tour filled with humour (mostly at the expense of Australians).  And more importantly, we could understand him. 

After a couple of hours on the Palatine, we went back down to the Arch of Titus and the beginning of the Via Sacra (the Sacred Way), the famous street that leads through the Roman Forum.  As we walked through the ruins of the ancient forum is was almost easy to transport yourself back in time.  I took lots of photos on here and on the Palatine and you can see them in the slide show below.  At the end of the Sacred Way we had a huge climb up many stairs to the top of the Capitoline Hill.  Ken barely made it with his wonky knees.  The photo at left is the view looking back at the Coliseum in the distance.  After checking out the Piazza del Campidoglio with its Palazzo Nuovo and Palazzo dei Conservatori at the top of the Capitoline, it was back down the other side and a short walk to the breath-taking Monument Victor Emmanuel II, celebrating united Italy's first king.

Looking back along the Sacred Way and the Roman Forum from atop Capitoline Hill.  The Palatine Hill is on the right and the Coliseum is in the far background

We then walked about a km to the Pantheon, the oldest (27 BC) structure in Rome to survive in its entirety.  The dome is as high as it is wide and is a model for Michelangelo's St. Peter's Bascilica.  A popular though rare site is snow flakes wafting to the floor from the hole in the top of the Dome when it snows.

From here it was a short walk to Piazza Navona, Rome's loveliest of squares.  This pedestrian paradise is filled with cafes, street performers, and splashing fountains.  Kathryn had her daily gelato fix and Ken tried Restaurant Tre Scalini's famous dessert, Tartufo, which is a rich, creamy ice cream

The Pantheon Dome

drenched in chocolate, cherries, and whipped cream (the diet variety of course).  We saw a wedding at the S. Agnese in Agone church in Navona Square   They all looked very rich.  After being entertained by several street entertainers we made the long trek home.  Along the way Kathryn got excited when we came across a sunken archeological site that was a dedicated home for stray cats.  When we got back to the hotel we went to our favourite take-out place next door and ordered up some delicious donair sandwiches.  As we were on our way to our annex, we couldn't help but notice that both sides of the street were covered with double parked cars - parking is a premium in Rome.  By now Ken's knees were screaming and we went to bed early.

Click here for a slide show of Day 39 photos.

Day 40

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