I'll include copies of the emails I sent to my family, but will of course supplement with additional information. So let's get started with some info about Rome!
Email #1 :
Bonjourno! I am in Rome safe and sound, jet-lagged, but none the worse for wear. We arrived after an uneventful (but long) flight at 8:30 this morning Rome time. It took us another couple hours to get our bags and take the train to the Termini (the big train station in downtown Rome) and walk to the hotel, which is only about 4 blocks away. It's a hostel, so the room is tiny, but the bathroom is really nice and the beds are comfy.
They let us in the room at 1:00 (we snagged lunch and walked around before it was cleaned) and we all showered and took naps for a few hours.We got up, got dressed, walked the city, had dinner, and saw the Trevi fountain by night. Gorgeous! Even a little rain did not deter us.
The Colosseum or Roman Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre is an elliptical amphitheatre in the center of Rome. Occupying a site just east of the Roman Forum, its construction started between 70 and 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus. Originally capable of seating around 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. As well as the gladiatorial games, other public spectacles were held there, such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.
The Colosseum as it looks today.
Me, Kent, and Chris in front of the Colosseum.
To the right of the Colosseum, is the Arch of Constantine. It was erected to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312. Dedicated in 315, it is the latest of the existing triumphal arches in Rome, from which it differs by spolia, the extensive re-use of parts of earlier buildings.
To get into the Colosseum, you wait in a line just inside the first row of arches. As you can see here.
This is a view of the interior of the Colosseum. Where the people are standing (in the background) is where the stage covering the main floor would have started. Directly under the stage were the cells where the gladiators lived (in the foreground)--they were slaves after all. The upper levels would have been covered by marble seats. The more important you were, the closer to the stage you sat.
Here you can see where they have restored a portion of the stage covering the floor.
And some of the marble seats. Make sure you bring a cushion! Marble is hard on the bottom.
From the top of the Colosseum, you can see the remains of the Temple of Venus, the largest known temple in Ancient Rome. It is directly across from the Colosseum, next to the Roman Forum.
To the left of the Temple of Venus is the Arch of Titus and the entrance to the Forum.
Here is me, Chris, and Kent at the floor of the Colosseum.
During the 16th and 17th century, Church officials sought a productive role for the vast derelict hulk of the Colosseum. In 1749, Pope Benedict XIV endorsed endorsed as official Church policy the view that the Colosseum was a sacred site where early Christians had been martyred. He forbade the use of the Colosseum as a quarry and consecrated the building to the Passion of the Christ and installed a cross at the floor level, declaring it sanctified by the blood of the Christian martyrs who perished there.
Wandering around the Colosseum are guys in gladiator wear posing for pictures with tourists. In the background is the Arch of Titus, marking the entrance to the Roman Forum along the Via Sacra. To the right are columns that lined the road, and on the far right is a tiny bit of the Temple of Venus.
Coming up tomorrow: Palatine Hill and Roman Forum plus pictures of our hostel!