Trip Start Sep 17, 2011
20Trip End Oct 09, 2011
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Have you noticed that I'm wearing the same clothes in every picture? I brought 3 tops: one for the average temperature, one for the cool evenings and one just in case it was really hot -- that's the one you've seen in all the pictures. It has been crazy hot here. I know, quit complaining, but really it's been really hot!
Traffic has been entertaining to say the least. I could have stood at Piazza Venezia all morning just watching folks experience near-death driving around the traffic circle -- and people complain about the one in Orleans. Hah! That's nothing! I can't tell you how many lanes there were because there were no lines on the road but about 3 or 4 lanes of traffic weres ever-merging around the circle
We figured out pretty quickly how to cross the streets here. Wait for an Italian person to come to the corner and shadow him or her to the other side! It seems that as long as you're in a cross walk (without a traffic light) the drivers will stop for you -- well not really stop, but weave around you. The trick is to step off the curb, hold your breath, close your eyes and just keep moving at a constant predictable pace and they'll go around you. It's exhilarating!
Hey, I got to pee standing up again today! I had bought myself a handy-dandy "funnel" made for just such occasions and boy does it work well. The bathrooms at the Colosseo left a little something to be desired in the cleanliness department. You girls know what I mean.
We headed to the Colosseum early this morning for our coveted underground and third tier tour. Like the Scavi tour of St Pete's this is a very exclusive tour but they didn't release the dates for October's tours until after we'd left for Italy. We were so happy (in Florence) when we got these tickets and the tour didn't disappoint. We were able to see how the naval battles were re-enacted (during the first decade of the Colosseum's existence); we saw up close where the slaves, performers, athletes, gladiators and animals entered the arena (did you know that the word arena is the latin word for sand which covered the main floor to absorb all the animal and human blood? And the word colosseum comes from the huge --colossal -- statue the crazy Nero had built in his likeness, where the stadium now stands
Anyway... we spent a couple hours at the stadium, then headed to the Palatine hill and Roman Forum (walked several kilometers around there). It took some imagination to feel the history there. Now pull out your maps and check out where we all walked. From the Forum we went to Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica (Beautiful church with spectacular mosaics and marble inlay walls and floors) and then thankfully we stopped for lunch (2 pm)
And then we went to the most amazing site: the Capuchin church on via Vittorio Veneto. This is a small crypt with 5 chapels decorated with hundreds and hundreds of bones from past monks. Some folks there only wanted to see the macabre display but there was something oddly beautiful and sacred about this place. We both could feel something there -- like an energy of all the goodness of the monks who had lived there. It was very powerful. I stopped at the exit to tell the woman working the entrance/exit that I had found the experience very moving and she confirmed what we had felt -- that many people describe this as more sacred than even St Peter's if they understand the message to live life while you have it. We came out of there having had a very spiritual experience.
After that it was a maze of roads, past Trevi fountain (which is way nicer at night) and back home to call it a day. We've both agreed to cancel plans to go to Ostia Antica -- one day of ruins is plenty for us. Did I mention "artimus maximus"?
One last fun fact: did you know that you can get two very large servings of gelato at the grocery store for about half the price of a small cone from a street vendor?