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Eight Nights and Dazed in Italy, Part IV

July 5-7, 2004

Venice | Florence | Rome 2 | Orvieto | Cinque Terre

Rome 1

An afternoon tour of ancient Rome with awesome guide Franchesca. And tours of the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica the next day. Our secure Rick Steves money belts a hassle at times but much appreciated in the crowds.

The Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine

2,000 years old--and colossal, originally with seating for 50,000 in the Colosseum's circular amphitheater. Built from 72-80 A.D of concrete, brick and Roman arches, of course, with three tiers of columns--Doric, Ionian and Corinthian. Only a third remains, not including its massive elephant-skin tarp that armies somehow hoisted to shade the violent spectacle below. The wood floor is also gone, exposing the passageways below for lions, tigers and other ferocious beasts and gladiators.

Nearby, the Arch of Constantine, commemorating a winning battle in A.D. 312 that brought Christianity into the mainstream--one of many religious wars through the centuries in the name of a single god.

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The Roman Forum (Foro Romano)

Though much of this ancient civic center is now rubble, "Julius Caesar once leaned against these rocks." And the remaining ruins still aid mental pictures of Roman temples, government halls and 43-foot-tall marble columns from 500 B.C to A.D. 500. That's more than 1,500 years ago!

Arch of Titus (Arco di Tito, 81 A.D.)--at the east end of the Forum and its Via Sacara main street, with aging sculptured reliefs commemorating a Roman victory in A.D. 70 | The Temple of Julius Caesar (Templo del Divo Giulio)--with tour guide Franchesca showing where Emperor Caesar's body was burned after his overthrow in 44 B.C. | Caligula's Palace--supporting arches of a cruel emperor's sprawling home, A.D. 37-41 | The Temple of Vesta--a once-sacred, once-circular structure with a once-eternal flame tended by six chaste priestesses, the Vestal Virgins | Temple of Antoninus and Faustina--with awe-inspiring 56-foot-tall Corinthian columns | Basilica of Constantine--impressive in size but only one-third of the former 297-foot-long hall of justice still stands. The roof of its lavish central hall was 132 feet high, 56 feet above than the three standing arches | Ancient Forum Doors (unidentified for now) | Arch of Septimus Severus--built in the early third century to celebrate Caesar's Middle East victories, at the west end of the Forum and Via Sacara | The Forum's Main Square--about the size of a football field, the birthplace of Rome.

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Capitol Hill Square

Designed by Michelangelo in 1550, the Renaissance-era Piazza del Campidoglio includes two-story building facades created to look like a single story, the grand stairway, and the pavement design. Behind Rome's ancient civic center, this square is where city leaders and citizens conduct business today.

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To Rome 2: The Pantheon, Statuesque Touring, The Vatican

Venice | Florence | Rome 1 | Rome 2 | Orvieto | Cinque Terre

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Copyright Gary and Donna Larson, Seattle, Washington. Updated Feb. 17, 2007.