Monday, November 15, 2010

BCers Visit Italy, Switzerland & France; Pt 4: Time Traveling In Rome

MY WORLD CONSISTS OF SORTING through vacation memories. It was awe-inspiring to visit such sights as the 12th century home to the Popes (Castel Sant'Angelo pictured above), the eventual literal link and passageway to the Vatican. And seeing the incredible Flavian Amphitheatre (known as the Colosseum) in Rome was like unlocking a door through time.

It is a strange sensation stepping into ancient hallways surrounded by deep walls seeped in history. We could easily imagine the roar of crowds, the laughter, heartbreak and brutality echoing inside the huge Colosseum below.

This old-world amusement center presented TRUE reality entertainment pre-television for participants who lost their lives, won freedom or survived extreme challenges to become heroes and knaves.

We were told that people with deformities entertained the crowd at times. There was also a circus atmosphere when animals took center stage.

Historians say some 9000 wild animals were killed in 100 days to celebrate the opening of the amphitheatre.

The Colosseum bowl was sometimes filled with water to stage naval battles.

Surprisingly, the architects of this monumental marvel that once seated some 80,000 spectators are not known.

Completed in 80 AD, the Colosseum is badly broken and has sunk from the ravages of time and earth tremors.

It survives with continual reconstruction efforts. Not everything seen is as original as the sculpture (pictured above).

Near the Colosseum is the Triumphal Arch of Constantine, commemorating Constantine's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD. It is said that with Constantine's conversion, Christian persecution ended.

Although Christians were certainly among those killed in the Colosseum, I was surprised to learn there is no historical data to confirm that the Christian massacres often seen in movies ever took place in the arena.

Constantine and his successors tried to end the cruel competitions but the people resisted until the 5th Century when a monk literally stood between the fighting gladiators.

Although the monk was pelted with stones and killed, his brave selfless act did eventually put an end to the "games".

After the earthquake of 1349, the Colosseum took a practical turn becoming a quarry for building materials.

During the Renaissance period the marble that once covered most of the structure was taken and reused for construction purposes throughout the city.

Every country has its brutal past. Societies mellow yet some basic instincts remain. I remember standing on a sidewalk in Rome waiting to cross a narrow side street with no traffic lights. People darted across despite the constant flow of vehicles. Noticing my hesitancy, a local said, “You must show courage and step out onto the street or the cars will never stop for you.”

Although I don't recommend leaping into traffic, I suspect it is not the combat but rather the love of courage exhibited by gladiators of the past that is at the heart of the fascinating Roman culture today.

There is also a new kind of gladiator haunting modern Rome. For a fee tourists can get their picture taken with a costumed pretender of days gone by.

Explorers can discover more sites from around the globe at My World.


  1. Wow, what an amazing memory you have. When we get home, we're always asking one another "Do you remember this?" and we never have the wealth of information you have. You are a marvel.
    Looking forward to more.
    Luv, K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. I have always been fascinated by the history associated with the Coliseum, but then I felt the same fascination for most of the places I visited and lived in during the years that I lived in Europe. Probably for no other reason than I come from an extremely young country in comparison. So, I really enjoyed your post today and your photos are superb! Next best thing to being there! Hope you have a great week!


  3. I can tell you had an amazing time.

  4. What a great trip you went on and a wonderful sequence of photographs. Very interesting information too.

  5. Wow, what a lovely tour of Rome. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos.

  6. Thanks for the tour.No gladiators on my park bench though that area of Ohio was the center of a thriving Indian culture 100 B.C. to A.D. 500

  7. Beautiful views of a world I would dearly love to visit.
    Thanks for letting me look over your shoulder, aka Penelope. I enjoy my visit.

  8. Beautiful shots of magnificent architecture. The information is very interesting.

  9. You really documented that well. That would be so neat to walk through there and revisit all of the rich history. Thank you for taking us on your trip! :)

  10. I love Rome. there's so much beauty and fascinating history to explore. wonderful captures of the Coliseum.

  11. Great shots of some amazing history. The ancient Romans definitely lived in a very brutal society.

  12. Fascinating tour and pictures! I've never been to Rome (or even Europe)and really appreciate all the details you've included.

  13. A poignant and beautiful post of times gone by of brutality and grandeur.
    Beautifully presented and narrated. Thank you.

  14. Astounding and amazing. Your photos take me to another time and place and leave me wondering, "How?"

  15. Wow - these photos are amazing! Rome is a wonderful place, isn't it?

  16. In 1962 I was also in Rome and saw the Colosseum, and therefore I am glad that you took us on a guided tour in history. Thanks for the informative post accompanied by beautiful photos.

  17. This is such a great trip. A visit to this historic place is worth it. The view of the Colosseum from the top is so gorgeous!

  18. Thanks for commenting on MY WORLD.
    This is such a great entry and thank you for sharing.
    Have a wonderful day.

  19. You are planting a seed of desire to explore more of my/our world, Penelope. Thank you! A couple of years ago, I read an esl version of "Gladiators" with one of my classes. At that time, we went to the downtown library and did some research on that period of history, but there is still so much to learn and so much food for thought. It is overwhelming to think of the suffering inflicted, and to contrast the elements of beauty with those of such horror. I wonder if some day, evidence will be discovered that will identify the architects.

  20. I just found your blog and hope you see my comment. We visited Italy, Rome primarily and Florence for a day, back in 2006. Italy became then one of my favorite places on earth, and your blog - this discovery - has made my morning. Thanks so much...


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