Italy Day 8, Rome Day 4: Colosseum, Palatine, Roman Forum, Capitoline Museums

Thursday: I left my touring of Ancient Rome to the last day of my visit. Having had a VERY long day with my hike to the Vatican and back on Wednesday, I decided to sleep in and when I woke up at 8:30a it was raining. I had been very fortunate weather-wise in my week in Italy so I couldn’t complain. I spent some time organizing my stuff and writing a bit, as well as trying to figure out what to do in Rome on a rainy day (since I hit so many indoor sites the first three days). By the time I decided to head out at 11:30am, I saw blue sky out my hotel window! So, I took a roundabout walk to the Metro station, going through the Universita di Roma “La Sapienza,” which was a typical urban campus just blending into the surrounding city without anything really distinctive to demarcate it as a campus.

The Metro ride from the Policlinico station to the Colosseo stop was the only train ride I had in Rome that was jam packed. I literally had to push my way onto the train (aided greatly by the people pushing me from behind). Then I was worried that I would not be able to make it to the door at my stop because almost no one got off at the 3 stops in between, and somehow more people got on. But some hard work and a few “Scuzzis” got me to the door and out to see the Colosseum.

I’m not really “into” ancient history, don’t have a fascination with Gladiators or Russell Crowe, but you can’t help but be impressed by the idea and execution of such a structure — even though what went on inside was a bit suspect.
From there, I walked the Palatine Hill, amid the ruins, and made my way across to the Roman Forum.

Walking amid the ruins, I tried to imagine what life was like 2,500 years ago, or even a mere 2,000 years ago. I couldn’t do it, but was awed to be in the presence of the material remains of that civilization. At the same time, I found myself wondering from time to time, “How many slaves died to build that monument?”

At the end of the Roman Forum, I went up the Capitol and Capitoline Museum, designed by Michelangelo in the mid-16th century. The first thing you see when you enter the museum is a courtyard with fragments of an ENORMOUS statue of Constantine the Great, from the 4th century AD. I guess its technical name is the “Colossus of Constantine,” which I think means Enormous Constantine. In any event, I don’t know the woman in the picture, but I waited until she walked into the shot to give a sense of the size of the thing. You can also see the attention to detail — notice the veins in the arm to the left.

As at the Borghese and the Vatican, I was particularly struck by the statuary sculptures. There is the very famous bronze “She-Wolf” and also the “Capitoline Venus,” but I spent the most time looking at the “Capitoline Gaul” or “Dying Gaul” or “Dying Galatian.” They say it may have originally been intended to be a discus thrower — based on the body positioning — but I’d say it works well as a striken warrior.

On my way back to my hotel I passed by the Vittoriano — the memorial to King Victor Emmanuel II — which is a good reminder of Italy’s more recent history, especially that the country was not unified until the 19th century and then as a kingdom not a democracy, and the republican era in Italy only dates to 1945.

I walked slowly back to my hotel, along the Via Cavour which runs from the Roman Forum to the Termini, thinking about everything I was able to see and everything I have yet to see.

Published by David Yamane

Sociologist at Wake Forest U, student of gun culture, tennis player, racket stringer (MRT), whisk(e)y drinker, bow-tie wearer, father, husband. Not necessarily in that order.

One thought on “Italy Day 8, Rome Day 4: Colosseum, Palatine, Roman Forum, Capitoline Museums

  1. For myself I don’t feel very well recemmonding the usual tourist places to my friends when they want to come to Rome. The main reason obviously are the masses which make it nearly impossible to enjoy the beautifulness of some places. There are a lot of other places in Rome where you find less people and one has all the quietude to study likewise nice examples of roman (ancient and modern) culture. On the other side I understand that if you come once in your lifetime to this town that you try to see the classical places (although you would be the one which could tell something different at home .Though living since long time in Rome I still didn’t visit the Colosseum neither St. Pietro for above reasons.BTW compliments for your blog

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