Rome, Italy
Saturday, August 21st
So.  Here we are.  Roma.  Since we took one of the high speed trains, we got here fast and went straight to our Hotel (Morgana Hotel).  The hotel was just
a few blocks from the train station and one of the main subway stations.  This will help us navigate this city a little easier.   

Off to explore this Roman wonder.  How many different ways are there to say, “Wow.”  All we can do is stand and stare at the size of everything.  We don’t
even know where to point anymore.  If everything we’ve seen up until now has been over-the-top, this is definitely the top of the top.  We briefly saw the
Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine.  This arch commemorates a military coup and the acceptance of Christianity within the Roman Empire.  
Constantine, defeated his rival in 312 AD and became the sole emperor, legalizing Christianity.

And then went to the Roman Forum to buy tickets to get inside the Colosseum.  And of course, tour Palatine Hill and the “Foro Romano”…Roman Forum
itself.

The Roman Forum is ancient Rome’s birthplace and civic center.  It’s a common ground between Rome’s famous seven hills.  The destruction that exists
today is due to man, not time or natural causes.
We kept walking and walking…and
walking, thinking we had arrived at the
end of the Roman Forum, when in fact,
we never found the end.  Block after
massive block of brick and marble
columns.  Palaces and buildings…ruins
tumbling down everywhere.  Just
overwhelming.  

Palatine Hill is above the Forum.  It
contains remains of the Imperial
palaces and the foundations of Rome,
including the house of Romulus.  We
get the word “palace” from this hill,
where the emperors chose to live.  
Back to the Colosseum we went.  A 2000 year old building known as THE great example of Roman engineering.  The title “Colosseum” comes from the
“colossal” statue of Nero that once stood in front of it.  Romans were obviously into “big”.  By putting two theaters together, they created this circular
amphitheater.  They could fill and empty the 50,000 seats quickly and easily.  Teams of sailors hoisted great canvas awnings over the stadium to give fans
shade.  This is where the Romans satisfied their taste for extreme violence.
The floor of the Colosseum is missing, but has been partially rebuilt to show where it used to be.  The underground is exposed now to show the passages
where animals were kept in cages and lifted up in elevators.  They would pop out from behind “blinds” into the arena so the gladiators would never know
from where or when they would be attacked.  We stayed awhile inside.  Staring.  And looking.  And imagining 50,000 people there with us watching lions,
tigers and warriors tearing each other apart.  A far cry from today where kittens were roaming around chasing butterflies.  
I remembered learning about the Trajan’s Tower in college…so off we
went to find it.  An obelisk with 2500 characters marching in a circle
around it for 130 feet.  I found it fascinating in school, but surely never
thought I’d see this.  We saw the assembling of the army at the bottom,
all the way to the victory sacrifice at the top.  Even though it was being
renovated, we stood a long time looking at the detail in the characters.
After walking all over the hillside, ruins and
Colosseum, we were starting to wear down.  
We checked out what we could see from
inside out before moving into the inside ring.
 There was a small museum within the walls
of the Colosseum that was outside of the
sun, so we enjoyed that for a few minutes.
We left the Colosseum and
headed down Imperial
Avenue.  We walked to
Capital Hill, Victor Emmanuel
Monument and Ceaser's
Forum.
Didn’t have to walk too far to find dinner.  We came across the most wonderful Italian restaurant…Sicilian actually, “Trattoria Melo a Piazza Venezia”.  We
looked at the menu outside in true American fashion…and realized we were being watched by the owner from inside.  So we decided to go in.  The owner
rushed to see us with open-wide arms like we were long-lost family…”BUONO SERA!”…Good Evening!  He gave us our choice of several “perfetto”
…perfect tables and also gave his recommendation of where we should sit.  So sit we did…and enjoyed a truly wonderful Italian meal…complete with all
courses.  First, “antipasto”…lots of roasted veggies.  All kinds of eggplant served buffet style.  And wine.  Next, pasta.  And wine.  After that, protein (steak,
ham, etc).  And wine.  Next, “insalata mista”…mixed salads.  And wine.  Last, “dolce”…dessert.  “Tiramisu and dolce al formaggio”…the sweetest, richest,
most dense cheesecake we’d ever tasted.  Well, at least we THOUGHT that was the last course, but then we were served shots of “limon liquore”…lemon
liquer.  Didn’t we have enough wine already?  But no matter, we were there for hours and we surely ate enough food to absorb it all.  

By this time, we had seen the owner welcome so many dinner guests…BUONO SERA!…with his welcome.  He sure did bring in the people with his
attitude.  We saw 3 other Americans from New York and began talking with them and making recommendations.  Finally, the waiter had me stand up and
wanted me to wait on them because I was doing a better job of selling them certain items than he was.  So before we left, the waiter and owner took our
pictures together and we made sure the waiter gave the New Yorkers some “limon liquore” shots.  Everyone had a great time laughing and chattering in
Italian-English.  It was kind of sad to leave all our new-found friends and when we left we all did the traditional cheek-to-cheek-to-cheek kisses…and
“buono notte”…good night…and back we went to see the Colosseum lit up at night.  After that, we went to find our hotel and to tuck ourselves into
bed…but first…can you believe it?…our daily gelato!