Ancient Rome

For our third day, we went in search of some ancient history; keen to see the wonderful spectacle that is the Colosseum. Many moons ago, Darren and I had both studied the ancient Romans in history lessons at school, but nothing beats going to the actual locations of these incredible civilisations in order to fully appreciate what life would have been like. En route to the Colosseum, we went for a wander around the old Roman Forum. IMG_2259Grabbing our audio guides, we pottered around the cluster of ruins that once upon a time was a thriving hub of public life, with bustling market places, government buildings, grand monuments and impressive temples. Now mostly in ruins, we used our imaginations to picture what this great space would once have looked like. IMG_2253IMG_2261IMG_2256For centuries this area was the place to be, but with the fall of the Roman Empire, the area gradually fell into disrepair.  As you can see, not many of the original buildings and structures remained intact, as the stones were used to build other grand plazas and buildings within Rome. However the temple below survived because it was converted into a Christian church, and therefore still had a useful function.IMG_2264After soaking in all the sights of the forum, we headed up the road to the nearby Colosseum.IMG_2283As you would expect, the queues here were monstrous, but luckily we’d bought a ticket at the Roman Forum that also included entry to the Colosseum, so we headed straight in.IMG_2277It was only when you got inside that you really appreciated quite how massive it was.IMG_2268Look how tiny all of the other people on the other side looked!IMG_2265I hadn’t realised quite how bloodthirsty the ancient Romans were until visiting the Colosseum. Back in the day, events here lasted all day long, and anybody who was anybody in Rome came to watch and cheer. Seating around 50,000 people, the excited crowds would be treated to such spectacles as gladiatorial battles, executions, wild animal hunts, mock battles and watching condemned criminals battle with dangerous animals (usually resulting in the criminals being ripped apart)! IMG_2270Battles and hunts would have been staged with elaborate sets and huge numbers of exotic animals were imported from Africa and the middle east to take part and eventually be slaughtered. The Emperor Trajan is said to have celebrated his military victories in 107 AD with contests involving 11,000 animals and 10,000 gladiators over the course of 123 days.

ColosseumThe scale of this place was just incredible! You just gazed around in awe as you pictured the scenes that would have been played out here nearly 2000 years ago.

After lunch and our customary afternoon nap, it was time for something a little different as we headed to the wonderful Gallery Borghese on the outskirts of Rome.borgOwned by a nephew of the Pope, this imposing looking mansion became one of the world’s first museums, and was absolutely filled with treasures. Back in the seventeenth century, being the Pope’s nephew meant that Cardinal Borghese had an almost limitless supply of cash to purchase gems for his collection, and if cash wouldn’t get him what he wanted, his power and position in society was enough to guarantee him what he wanted. This led to an incredible collection, including works from Bernini, Caravaggio and Titian. Although several key pieces were pinched by Napoleon to sit in the Louvre, many beauties still remain.ApolloAndDaphneMy favourite piece in the whole gallery had to be Bernini’s Apollo & Daphne, capturing the moment when Daphne starts to turn into a tree as she struggles to escape from Apollo’s clutches. The carving of the marble is so intricate and you have to circle the statue multiple times in order to let all of the detail soak in. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the gallery so thanks to Wikipedia for this photo!

After finishing our visit to the gallery and starting the long trek back to where we were staying, the sun started to set, creating the most beautiful sky.IMG_2292By the time we got back to the city centre, it was well and truly dark.IMG_2293 The city looked amazing when it was all lit up.IMG_2294IMG_2296 With weary feet, we headed for a dinner of pizza (obviously!) and savoured the views, enjoying our last night in this wonderful city before heading north to Florence the next day.

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10 Responses to Ancient Rome

  1. I’m so jealous, it looks amazing. We’re just in the middle of planning a break away and I’m really pushing for Rome :o). xx

  2. Hey Lucy – really loving your posts on Rome!! They’re reminding me of our stay there back in 2011. It was August and CRAZY HOT, so we decided, since we realised we couldn’t do it all in 3 days, we’d forgo some of the sites in favour of getting around at a more leisurely pace. Ancient Rome was one we didn’t do – but that just means we can plan to go back some time, hopefully at a more temperate time of year. The photo of you inside the colloseum is making me want to drop everything and go right now – it looks amazing! Like you, I studied roman history way back – I really want to see Pompeii too! And when (note ‘when’ not ‘if’) we go back i’m also going to see ‘la bocca de la verita’ – i’ve been twice now and didn’t manage to see it either time, and it’s firmly on my bucket list – being a ‘Roman Holiday’ fan! We DID manage the Borghese gardens though – that, the Trevi (of course) and the modern Olympic village were some of my highlights. Though just being in Rome was enough on its own!
    By the way – from one (oldish) Northerner to a new one – i’ve nominated you for a ‘Sunshine Award’…take a look at my blog link to see! 🙂
    Look forward to seeing what you got up to in beautiful Florence!
    Sarah x
    p.s. Loving your shirt in these photos!
    p.p.s. bloglink:

    • Thanks Sarah! I basically had a giant list of things that I wanted to see and we pretty much managed to tick off all of them. Luckily the weather was good so the heat wasn’t too oppressive, but we did end up with slightly sore feet! x

  3. India S says:

    This is making me so emotional about my trip to Rome! Looks like you had the most wonderful time. It’s truly magical isn’t it, and especially at night! Gaaawd I could do with some pizza and gelato right now. Super jel! XX

  4. Daniela says:

    looks like fun! i looove italy (for obvious reasons…) xx

  5. I was last in Rome in 2008. After that, it has been Milan mostly and Venice. I really need to go back to this romantic city. 🙂

  6. Emma says:

    I’ve loved being able to read all about your travels in Italy! Rome looks amazing, especially being able to visit places like the Colosseum. I didn’t realise it was so big! x

  7. Pingback: Ancient Rome | Ancient Rome |

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