Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day Three: Easter Sunday

We began our day early again per Kaden and then had another yummy breakfast before heading out before the crowds toward the Colosseum.

On the way we took some pictures of the forum, which is on either side of the street on your way to the Colosseum. We also took these pictures of the old Roman Empire and its territories. I thought this was pretty cool.

We got there pretty early and got to enjoy its awe with few people, which was very nice. The Colosseum itself was exactly what I expected: grand beyond words and absolutely awe-inspiring. Throughout our trip here I’ve thought about my grandparents and my Dad a lot, wondering if they walked down the same streets, or ate in the same cafes, some 20-25 years ago. But at the Colosseum, I specifically thought of Papa and his descriptions of it. It’s doubtful we’ll ever make it back here, but it’s been so great to make these memories for ourselves. Maybe, like Mimi and Papa have, we’ll be able to share our experiences with our kids and grandkids.

Inside on the upper floor there were a lot of artifacts from the Middle Ages. Things like dice, dishes, and money. I thought those were really neat to see.

For those who have been living under a rock, the Colosseum was built in 72 AD and was used for fights between gladiators (to the death), and wild animal fights. The fights were staged free of charge and it could hold some 55,000 spectators. The wealthy and upper class sat closest to the fights and the everyday people sat higher up according to class. Gladiators were usually slaves or prisoners of war. If one was badly wounded, the Emperor would hold his thumb up or down to determine if the gladiator would live or die. Dead gladiators were carried off on stretchers by attendants dressed as Charon, the mythical ferry of the dead.

Now, the floor of the Colosseum has eroded away so that you can see the floors beneath the stage area where the gladiators and animals were kept before they fought. It was fascinating to stand there and imagine what took place back then.
See the dice in the middle? (Number 5)
A view of the forum and Palatine Hill from the Colosseum.
Stu in front of the Arch of Constantine I.
A closer view of the Arch of Constantine.
After the Colosseum we headed up the Palatine Hill to see the House of Augustus, the Palatine Museum, and many other really cool places. The Palatine Museum is inside of an old nunnery and houses tons of Italian sculpture.

The House of Livia still has some of the original frescos on the walls. That was pretty incredible. We also saw the gardens and crypt as well while Kaden got a little nap in his stroller.
The only bummer about the Palatine Hill was that it very stroller unfriendly, so Stu and I had to take turns seeing a few of the sights. Otherwise, it just became another unbelievable experience to add to our ever-growing list of them.
This is the Stadium. It was part of the Imperial Palace and may have been used by the emperors as a private garden.
This is Domus Augustana which is what is leftover of the palace.
Here is Kaden dancing. Behind him is the House of Augustus.
He was a dancing fool! :)
Here are part of the Farnese Gardens, relics of when the Palatine was a private garden.
Here I am above the forum. In the background you can see the Colosseum.
Another section of the gardens. This is one of the fountains.
These are the frescos on the ceiling (above) and walls (below) in the House of Livia, where Augustus lived with his wife Livia.
Here are a few examples of the people trying to make a buck. Above is the King Tut I mentioned earlier. Below is a guy who makes these really cool pictures with spray paint.
Because our feet were not accustomed to walking several miles at one time, they were hurting pretty badly on the walk back to our hotel, so we decided a relaxing lunch was in order. We found a little trattoria (family owned restaurant) on a side street near the Spanish Steps called Al Caminetto. I ordered the Fettuccini with Caminetta sauce (porcini mushrooms and prosciutto) and Stu had the lasagna that was on special for the day. It was without a doubt the best fettuchini I’ve ever had in my life, and one of the best 5 meals I’ve ever eaten. I’m not exaggerating one bit either. Stu said his was the best lasagna he’s ever had too. Of course we also split a half liter of wine also and Kaden seemed to enjoy part of my meal every bit as much as I had. Half-way through dinner we were serenaded by a violinist (again, people will find every way to make a buck, er, Euro here) and Kaden got to “tip” him after our meal. Once again I absolutely loved eating outside among the travelers and the Romans. I could definitely have gotten used to living like that! :)

I should note that Kaden’s favorite part of the trip was, without a doubt, playing in the hotel room where he could sit at the window in the “nook” and wave at/talk to the people in the street below. He even got the Indians who were selling knock-off stuff below us to clap and blow kisses with him and he laughed. If we hadn’t forced him to go out sight-seeing, he would have been perfectly content to sit at that window all day long.

We came back from our best lunch of all time and rested our feet while Kaden played. The we headed out again in the direction of Piazza Novana. We enjoyed some gelato while sitting fountain-side. The artists in the city are actually quite amazing, so we walked among the paintings throughout the piazza looking at them.

As I’ve already mentioned, there are plenty of innovative souls willing to do nearly anything to a Euro. In addition to the violinist and the Statue of Liberty, we saw a king Tut (several times), a glass-player, and several magicians.

In the piazza there is a church of St. Agnes that was built on the grounds of a brothel where St. Agnes, at age 12 or 13, who had refused to marry the son of the Prefect Sempronius, was dragged naked through the streets to the brothel where, as she prayed, her hair grew to cover her naked body. It is also said that all of the men who tried to rape her were struck blind. The legend says that she was tied to a stake but the bundle of wood would not light, so she was instead beheaded. Her bones rest in a catacomb beneath the church that is there now.

This is the ceiling of St. Agnes.

We then headed back over to our little trattoria where we ate lunch to have some dinner. We each chose different meals, but agreed that the first ones were better. They were still very good, and even better with another half liter of wine. Kaden was a good boy too, which always makes mealtime more enjoyable for everyone.

After dinner we went for a walk and ended up getting more Suppli and wine at a little bar. Naturally, Kaden flirted with the little Spanish girl we sat beside and I was excited to be able to understand about 80% of what she said. Stu and I had a great conversation about Spanish phrases and then we decided to call it a day and settled down to read and write, respectively.

Kaden at dinner.

I just had to put this in there because this is the fountain in from of the Pantheon in the middle of the day... remember how Kaden was on it alone? This is how it normally looks.


  1. Wow. Just wow! So many things to do and see and eat. I'm so jealous! I want to visit Italy!

  2. Hehe the dancing fool makes me laugh!! :-) I'm really enjoying reading through everything! Glad yall had safe trips there and back.