Thursday, July 20, 2017

May 20th: Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

It's a good thing we didn't have any real plans for the next day, because between going to bed way later than I normally do and the awesome remote control shutters on the hotel room windows that blocked out every last bit of daylight, I didn't wake up until about 10:30am. I never sleep that late, but I definitely needed it!

Turns out we didn't miss anything other than the hotel's breakfast; it was still raining when we looked outside. A couple small storms rolled through, then it started to clear up a bit, so we decided to go find some breakfast.

I found some tiramisu and a latte. Mark was slightly disgusted that I was eating cake for breakfast. ("Cake is not breakfast food.") It was delicious.  :)

We decided it would be a good day to check out the Roman Forum. We had downloaded podcasts that outlined a tour through the area, so after buying our tickets and making our way through the entrance gate, we popped in our earbuds and started walking.

We started near the Arch of Titus. It was built in the first century AD by the emperor to commemorate his brother's capture of Jerusalem during the Jewish-Roman wars.

The Basilica of Constantine was a short walk away. It was the largest building in the Forum, and was likely used as a courthouse and meeting hall. Only part of the building remains; the rest was damaged in various earthquakes over the years.

The Temple of Romulus. It was built sometime in the 4th century AD, and those are the original bronze doors.

Those three columns are the remains of the Temple of Castor and Pollux. It used to be a meeting place for the Roman Senate,

The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. It was originally built by the Emperor Antoninus Pius and dedicated to his deceased wife, Faustina, but was later turned into a Roman Catholic church. 

Looking back toward the House of the Vestals and Palatine Hill. The Vestals were appointed by the emperor, and their job was to remain chaste. You can read a bit more about them here; I thought it was kind of interesting.  :)

The Arch of Septimius Severus was at the other end of the Forum. This arch was built in 203 AD to commemorate victories in the Roman-Parthian wars.

Some more storms had popped up while we walked through the Forum, and as we passed by the Arch of Septimius Severus a bit of rain started to fall. You could see breaks in the clouds, though, so we decided to keep going.

The rain stopped after a little while and we eventually made our way through the Forum and up to Palatine Hill. This is part of the view from the hill; you can see the Colosseum in the background.

Looking back toward the rest of the Forum. It would have been really neat to see this as it originally had been, with giant ornate buildings and full of people.

We spent a while wandering around Palatine Hill; it was huge and there were ruins scattered everywhere. I especially liked this giant foot. This was the only part of the statue that remained; I can only imagine how big the whole thing must have been.

This is the Hippodrome or Stadium of Domitian. They still aren't exactly sure what this was far; some people think it was for foot races, others think it may have been the emperor's private garden.

I think this was the water garden of Domus Augustana. We didn't have any podcast tours for Palatine Hill, and not everything had a sign, but it was still fun to wander around.

I thought it was neat that there were still some sections of floor out in the open. Palatine Hill used to be filled with fancy houses and palaces, so it was neat to wander around and imagine what it used to be like.

We eventually finished wandering around Palatine Hill and made our way back down toward the Colosseum. It was getting pretty late in the day and there were a lot of people there, so we decided to save that for later and go explore somewhere else for a bit.

A little bit of walking later, we were at the Altare della Patria, or the Altar of the Fatherland. It was built in the early 1900s as a monument to Victor Emmanual, the first king of a unified Italy. (He ruled from 1861 to 1878.) It sits on the other end of the Roman Forum. Lots of people were wandering around and climbing the steps, so we decided to check it out.

We passed the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier...

...and eventually wound up on the upper levels of the building. There were ornate details everywhere you looked.

We looked around a bit and found a place where you could buy elevator tickets to ride to the observation area on the very top of the building, so a few minutes later...

...we were watching this seagull feed its babies on the roof.

We were also enjoying the view, too. It was pretty cool.

Looking back toward the Roman Forum; you can also see the Colosseum.

We hung out on the roof for a while, and at one point I was watching traffic drive through the big circle in front of the building. I saw a guy on a bike cutting across the circle on an angle, and a few seconds later a car entered the circle and starting making its way around. I thought for sure that one of them would see the other, but nope - the car ran smack into the guy on the bike! The guy on the bike fell off the bike and onto the road, then eventually got up, said what I imagine was something pretty heated to the guy in the car, got back on his bike, and rode away. It was crazy.

We eventually made our way back down to the street and wandered around a little more, stopping to grab gelato at a little shop before making our way back to the hotel. We had dinner at a small restaurant a short walk from the hotel, then spent the rest of the evening hanging out on the hotel's rooftop terrace, drinking limoncello and eating strawberries we had picked up at a small market earlier in the day. For getting such a late start, it had been a really nice day.

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