Thursday, July 24, 2008

Roman Fora

I think it's Thursday and today we went to visit Rome's various Fora. We started on the Palatine Hill, one of Rome's 7 hills, and probably the most important because it is where Romulus became Rome's founder and where, much later, Rome's emperors lived. The word palace/palatial comes from Palatine. We explored the area under Paul's guidance. On one side, we had a great view of the Circus Maximus (the first chariot racetrack) and on the other, the Roman Forum. On the hill itself are the remains of the emperors' palaces, as I said earlier, the best being that of Domitian. We stood in what would have been the triclinium (dining room) and read from texts about what it would have looked like back in the day. It was much fun. We processed down the hill into the Forum and got good looks at the remains of early Roman temples, law courts, the Senate house, and the speaker's platforms. One fun thing is that the Romans actually had a law that a lawyer could "only" speak for six hours (straight). Which meant that if you had to go to court, you were probably in for a long wait. So etched into the steps of the court we can still find remains of board games that people would use to keep themselves occupied, and probably also to make some money via gambling. They likely used stones or coins as markers, so we all had a little play time as well and got excellent photos. Next we went through Julius Caesar's forum, stopping at a statue of him where we all sang a little song in Latin and were stared at by all the other tourists. Next we viewed Trajan's column, forum and markets as well as Augustus' forum. We were near the Colosseum when it was lunchtime, so Kathy, Chris, Ramona, Karl, Greg and I (the usual gang) headed to a restaurant I visited with Chris and my mom, aunt and uncle on the EHS trip last year. We enjoyed some wonderful pastas, trying each other's, as well as a nice rest from the tiring morning. After lunch we had a tour of the church of San Clemente and the medieval, then Roman ruins beneath it. That's the great thing about this place - it's just layers upon layers of history! Plus, it has my favorite Madonna painting in it. Well, went home after that, took a cool shower and a nap, then the usual suspects met at Piazza Navona to head out to a nice dinner. I ordered a primi of mussels and clams steamed in a light butter, white wine, garlic, and parsley broth. I followed that with a plate of grilled shrimp - the huge ones, heads and all. It took a little work to peel them, but it was very much worth the effort. Others had gotten some tasty risottos and pastas that we all took bites of. Now full to the brim, we enjoyed a digestif (stomach-settler) of limoncello. We walked through the area, stopping to listen to a guitar player/singer who had attracted quite the crowd, and also at a bar for a nightcap. Then, since it was a long day and we were feeling full and lazy, we took a taxi back home. Overall, a wonderful day. The weather has been amazing - low 80s with bright sunny skies and nice breezes during the day, and mid 60s at night, which is perfect for sleeping with my balcony doors open. Off to bed! Buona notte!

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