More Rome

We’re in Barcelona now, but I wanted to add more info about our Rome trip. I can’t get on the wifi for some reason at our Barcelona apartment (found on Expedia, not Airbnb – It’s large and wonderful, but I digress.) and my phone doesn’t have a fast cell connection. I think I’ll just have text on this entry and post the photos on another one in a week or so.
If I had Rome to do over again, I would have done more research before I went so I knew what I was seeing, especially at the forum. We entered the forum area from the Palatine area where some of the first emperors had palaces built. There was no line, and the ticket there can also be used for entrance at the forum and Coliseum over the course of two days. I was glad we got our tickets at the Palatine section because the line at the Coliseum the next day looked like it would take at least an hour. There’s a sign at the Palatine entrance encouraging visitors to download a free “essential” explanatory app. I tried, but my Internet connection wasn’t fast enough to download the app. So I bought a 10 Euro guidebook which wasn’t very helpful because it wasn’t clear which ruins were being discussed in the book – “Is that this?” Laurel and I asked each other. Here’s some of what I did learn from signs, the book, and mostly Internet searches conducted later at the hotel.
Nero, poor misunderstood Nero – just kidding. From what I read he was a real dickwad, but he didn’t fiddle while Rome burned since fiddles didn’t exist in 1st-century Rome. Laurel said, “I used to think the idea of Nero fiddling while Rome burned was so evil, but would it have helped if he had watched mournfully?” There’s disagreement among historians about whether he was in Rome when the fire occurred. Some say he set it since he then took some of the land for his palace and garden grounds. He did order that the portion of Rome that was rebuilt and not taken for his palace be less like kindling – homes spaced further apart and made of brick.
The Colosseum, aka the Flavian Amphitheater, completed 80 AD – I read an online Smithsonian article about it before we went, and I’m glad I did. The floor of the Colosseum is no longer there, so you can see what was underneath – a complicated maze of supports and machines – not sure if that’s the right word. Animal hunts and exhibits as well as gladiator fights were popular shows at the Colosseum. The machinery and dozens of workers under the arena floor allowed for caged animals to be raised and released in a surprising time and location onto the floor. When the Colosseum initially opened, there were 100 days of games in which 9,000 animals from around the empire were released onto the floor and killed for the audience’s amusement. Gladiators were usually slaves, criminals, or prisoners of war. The audience attended for free; either the emperor or some other wealthy politician paid for the games. The 80 arched doorways were numbered, some of those numbers are still visible. The 50,000 or so attendees entered the Colosseum and sat in ways that corresponded to their social standing. Women, except for the Vestal virgins, and slaves had the worst seats. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum was used for a variety of purposes. The excavation of the arena subfloor was extensive (Lots of trash, animal dung, and soil accumulated over the years.) and fairly recent.
We didn’t get a copy of Charlie Hebdo this morning before our early flight from Paris, but it sounds like sales were brisk and many, many times the usual circulation. Let’s support the continued exercise of free speech.

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