Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Rome: The Roman Empire

Reading Time    |     9 min 39 sec.

Rome has been around for almost three thousand years and yet carries all that weight of history with their Roman empire dominance around Europe. We all learned about it in school, right? When I first read and studied the history of ancient Rome, my mind wandered and imagined how powerful they were. 

After one night in Florence, we continued our journey to Rome. We took a train from the central station; it was near our stay. We ain't got time for a proper breakfast because we must review our luggage before we left and board the train.

We bought two takeaway baguettes, mine was with tuna, and my husband got the ham and cheese.

We rushed quickly to the station, so we didn't miss our train. The station was full of people, and we barely had space to move. The real challenge that day was to stick together and protect our selves from the pickpockets. I even didn't engage with my phone at all because I heard many phones got snatched away. I didn't want to take the risk.

The information about the schedule was a mess as well, it wasn't addressed in detail, so we had to put more extra attention to the schedule board. The train won't wait for us.

When we noticed that our train had arrived, we rushed quickly to the gate and sprinted to the officer so we could sit promptly. It was crazily crowded, I swear. I was extremely relieved when we got our seat and finally could have our breakfast on the train.

The trip to Rome from Florence is about 3 hours, enough time for me to sleep for a while.

My tired face because of lack of sleep

After we arrived in Rome, we immediately google-mapped our stay so we could arrive quickly and process the check-in. The distance to our flat is actually pretty fair, but the heat, our luggage and the uneven pedestrian path let our walk felt like forever. I was really shocked when I found that my husband needed to lift our luggage through the high stairs! :0

We checked in, took some rest and refreshment before we left for Colosseum. My husband took a quick shower because he sweated a lot, poor him. Then, I put some sunscreen on our skin before we left, it is essential in summer!

Even if the heat had burnt me, I couldn't wait to see the Colosseo! 

We walked through the modern city of Rome and arrived at the mighty Colosseum/Forum/Palatine complex. I was in awe with this Flavian Amphitheatre, how could they build it?

Colosseum is actually the place to host a gladiators contest and it could hold up to 80.000 spectators. During the early days of the Colosseum, ancient writers recorded that the building was used for simulated sea battles. One describes it being filled with water for a display of specially trained swimming horses and bulls.

... but how they managed the arena to be waterproofed? 🤔

surrounded by ancient ruins

Do you know that the spectacle day began in the morning? It started with the presentation of all the participants (Pompa). This was followed by the venationes (animal hunts), hunts in which hunters tackled wild animals lurking among sets replicating the geographical contexts from which they came. 

It was a cruel battle that I don't enjoy, it hurts the animal and the people as well. But since it was part of human history, we must learn and understand it, then learn to not repeat the cruel history ever again.

During the lunch interval, when executions ad bestias (condemnation to beasts) took place, the condemned, naked, unarmed, faced the wild animals which would eventually tear them to pieces. During the break to the main match, there were performances by jugglers, acrobats and magicians, as well as parodies and re-enactments of ancient myths. 

Finally, gladiatorial combats (munera) were held in the afternoon. The participants in these combats were usually prisoners of war or slaves, but some gladiators were free men seeking fame and fortune. 

There were numerous categories of gladiators, distinguished by their weapons and combat techniques. Gladiators were individually armed in various combinations, each combination imposing its own fighting-style. Gladiators who were paired against an opponent in the same style were relatively uncommon.

I always questioned why the society at that time accepted such barbarity without question? Yet, they enjoyed the cruel battle, and to the Romans themselves, the Colosseo was one of the defining features of their civilisation. I couldn't agree more.

I have to admit that despite the bloody history of this combat venue, its exterior and interior architecture of this amphitheatre was terrific, it will stay for more decades to come. Every part of it was impressive. Have you ever visited Colosseum before? What do you think of it?

After exploring the Colosseum and visited the museum, we decided to get lunch first then resume our journey to the Forum and Palatine Hill. This restaurant isn't far from the Forum, in fact, we tried to find the nearest place, so we still have plenty of times to explore before the complex closed.

My husband ordered a portion of pasta Rigatoni with goat cheese and tomatoes. It was delicious, but I don't like the smell of goat cheese, I think it was too strong for my taste.

I ordered handmade vegetarian ravioli with spinach and basil, I didn't expect that the portion was this little, it was quite small (for me). Overall, the food was quite delicious, but it wasn't that worth it compared with how much we spent there. Despite all our appraisals, we still love the foods!

Since the restaurant is near the complex, we reached the neighbourhood in less than 10 minutes. We still couldn't leave the Colosseum just soon so we walked around, and took some photos to fill our memory before we head to the Forum.

Now to the Roman Forum complex, it's a site located at just beside the Colosseum. This is believed to be the location of vital religious, political and social activities back then. Historians believe people first began publicly meeting in the open-air Forum around 500 B.C. when the Roman Republic was established. 

Just before the entrance to the Palatine Hill and the Forum, stand this Arch of Constantine, located solely between the Colosseum and Palatine Hill. It is a triumphal arch devoted to the emperor Constantine the Great. I always have a weak spot for an Arch because I think it looks so glorious, and it possesses a winning spirit that claims of its victory in the past. It preserved in the form of this arch to be remembered.

We could smoothly go to the Palatine hill at the beginning, but because of the steep path, I chose to go for the Forum first.

According to a nationally accepted legend, ancient Rome was founded by brothers Romulus and Remus in 753 B.C. After a rising disagreement, Romulus killed Remus, he became king and named Rome after himself. The traditional story also credits Romulus with starting an alliance with his rival, Titus Tatius, and securing the site of the Roman Forum a neutral meeting zone.

At first, the Forum primarily served as a marketplace for day-to-day shopping. Over time, it became much more versatile and functional, as public affairs were held in the area like elections, public speeches, criminal trials, social gatherings, business dealings, religious ceremonies, etc.

It was satisfying to recreate the vibes with my visual imagination. I imagined being in the ancient Roman times where this space was packed with people in their traditional roman clothing, chattering while gathering around this complex casually.

The Roman Forum, though apparently a stretch of ruins, remains one of the most important places of the world for its history and art. The ruins, the vegetation, the environment, forming a whole set off by the Roman enlightenment, still retain a charm which the passage of time cannot alter. 

There are a lot of temples like the Temple of Saturn, the Temple of Vesta and the Temple of Castor and Pollux. The height of the Forum's area turns out to be far below today's urban Rome. It was rediscovered by the archaeologist in 1803. The ancient remains are mysterious in many ways, but they offer unprecedented insight into Roman civilisation.

Seeing the Forum from above, especially at sunset on a clear day, is one of the world's most intense and striking spectacles. We actually planned to do that, but since it was in the summer, the sun sets at a very late hour. The stairs to reach the top square, which we can enjoy the Forum from above was closed before we set our foot there.

Luckily, we still got some times to explore the Palatine Hill quickly and managed to see another side of Roman Forum from above.

I know the Palatine Hill may be overshadowed by the fame of the Colosseum. My husband asked me whether I wanted to explore all the ruins or just skip some, but I wouldn't want to miss it if possible.

The ruins of its ancient palaces still visible from a distance, they were once the home of emperors, temples and was the centre of Rome's most famous myth 'the legend of Romulus and Remus'. It was believed that the location of the Lupercal was there. Lupercal is the cave where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf.

Do you know that his majestic hill is mostly an archaeological site with a green haven? Even at the height of the tourist season, the Palatine is surprisingly peaceful, so it's an excellent place to escape the crowds. Perfect for two introverts like us! 

The most spectacular views around this complex are on this hill, where you can see the labyrinth ruins of the Roman Forum in their entirety, the Colosseum, and the Capitoline Hill. 

We were rejected to enter this site, we both baffled as there was plenty of time left. There was another man insisted that he wanted to go inside and that he still got the time like more than 30 minutes, but the keeper said that we weren't allowed to go up. I was a bit upset, but I believe that if there's a chance, I'll revisit this ruins in the future.

In Ancient Rome, Palatine Hill was considered one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in the city and was the home of aristocrats and emperors. The complex was spacious with steep path, green grasses, the stone pines and ruins of Flavian palace, the stadium of Domitian and the house of Augustus and Livia.

It was unfortunate that we couldn't explore all the ruins because the closing time was near. We could come the next day again because we bought the two days ticket to explore all the complex, but we have planned our trip to the Vatican the following day, so we couldn't dig into the ruins completely.

Nevertheless, a short trip is still a trip. 

I was unusually attracted by this stone pine trees! They are everywhere throughout Rome and is native to the Mediterranean region. The shape is super cute, like a broccoli tree!

After our hasty expedition, I believe that for a new perspective on Rome and its history completely, there's no better place than the Palatine. You can't understand Ancient Rome without understanding something of the Palatine and its remarkable history.

No visit to Rome is complete without a thorough exploration of the ancient city. 

We sprinted along the sloppy road, read the information provided half-assedly, took a quick tour at the ancients vines and the Domus Augustana. Once we inspected the ruins and read the board, one of the keepers came and told us that we need to leave soon. We saw there was still a little bit of time, but to respect her, we immediately head the way out while enjoying our last walk in the Palatine Hill.

She didn't rush us likewise, but she allowed us to adore the surrounding that once was the residence for the emperor and the royal. It was mesmerising and captivating.

We reached the time where we must leave the Roman empire. During our way out from the Palatine Hill, it was peaceful and zero tourist around us. We looked around at the ancient residence and found how beautiful it was. Strangely, we had lived in the Roman empire for just a moment.

The real world finally came into us as we reach the Colosseum again. The crowd was honestly more tremendous around the Colosseum than in the Forum or the Hill. We need to put attention to our bags to avoid the pickpockets. Luckily, we didn't bring anything valuable except our cameras, phones and cards.

After admiring the Colosseum and surrounding for the last time, we were ready to leave and walked through the street of Rome. We wanted to explore the city of Rome a bit.

My outfit for summer in Rome. I paired a mustard ribbed top with a patterned skirt of my husband's pick. He loved this skirt and said I must wear it on our trip, lol.

Actually, if you don't want to go inside the Roman Forum, you can see the ruins from the street around the city. We were strolling down the street and passing a big square where we can see the Forum from outside. This space is before the Altar of the Fatherland and Piazza Venezia.

Altar of the Fatherland

While we were looking at the altar in awe, there was a man who tried to grab my husband's camera! He put his hand on the camera and purposely grab it away. My husband was surprised that this guy was daringly running his action in public space. He immediately formed a fist with his hand and shouted at the guy to leave him alone.

The drunk thief looked a bit confuse and slowly walked through the zebra crossing. One of the tourists praised my husband bravery and showed a supportive gesture for my husband.

I managed to capture his picture quickly while still in shock. Seriously, I didn't realise that he was going to grab our camera because he walked casually past us with a drink. Thank God that nothing was happening to us.

There were a lot of historical sites along the road, Rome is full of ruins and rich in history! If you visit Rome, you must explore the ruins in the city. I wish I have the opportunity in the future so I could explore more of the Roman empire.

Triple gelato for our tired foot but a happy soul.

It was almost nine at that time, but the sky was still bright. That's the benefit if we're travelling in Summer, we got plenty of suns to explore in one day. The trip felt so long with the combined journey from Florence, 3 hours on the train and a half-day go on foot! It was worth it even though our foot started to feel weary.

We arrived at home 1 hour later, I quickly prepared dinner for my hungry husband. I washed the leaves I bought in the supermarket, fluffed some rice and cooked the mixed seafood. He helped me later with the dishes, lol.

That was my first day in Rome. We ended our day with a warm shower, a slow pillow talk and fell asleep super fast because we both were exhausted. Talk to you on my next story! 🥰



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