Friday, July 23, 2004
Four tombs and a circus
Buon Giorno. Today was a relatively relaxing day indeed. We left on the good, i.e. air conditioned, bus and went to the Via Appia, or Appian Way, to check out some tombs and stuff. The Romans buried their dead outside of the city walls for sanitation purposes which I think are obvious. So several tombs are found along the Appian Way. We got to walk on it a bit, which was strangely exciting, and we then visited the tomb of Maxentius which was built near his circus, or racetrack. He used this area just for the imperial family (late empire, right before Constantine). The track could hold about 10,000 people and he had his own private races there. You can still see the starting gates and the turning posts, although you'd have to know what they were in order to make them out. We also visited the tomb of Caecilia Metella, which is famous because it's so large and because it's for a woman. There's a picture of it in the Latin I textbook we use at EHS. Then we went into a private gated estate (love those special permissions...) where on their property they have three columbaria. A columbarium is a structure not unlike a shed but mostly underground, that has half-circle-shaped 'dove-holes' (columba is Latin for dove) in which they placed the urns that held the ashes of imperial freedmen and women (ex-slaves of the emperor and his family). We visited two of these on the same property, one of which held 500 urns and the other, 300. It was very dark and overall pretty creepy but also kind of cool in that macabre way. Plus I had my handy-dandy flashlights! And that was all that was scheduled. I had lunch at that pizza place I've been frequenting, and then most of us hung around the Centro because it's so hot you can't get yourself to do anything else, even though you're in Rome and you feel guilty sitting around reading novels and watching Italian MTV and taking naps. Several people in our group have come down with a stomach bug that is particularly nasty, and so far I've been lucky. I feel great - a bit tired and hot and sweaty all the time, but thankfully not nauseous! I went out to dinner at a nice place around the block that used to be an inn where Garibaldi stayed (he was a revolutionary who had a large role in the independence of Italy and its unification as a country in the 1800's). It was mostly outside, but covered in ivy arbors, very pretty. The waiter loved me as usual - I think they just like to see a woman enjoying her food, and judging by the size of the women here, they don't! Did I mention the one size fits all clothing shop???? Give me a break! But I had a good dinner, and stopped for gelato on the way home and that was about it. Hope all is well in the U.S. Joanne K. comes tomorrow! Yay!