Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Beginning at the beginning...

Sketchy Internet connections made uploading photos impossible in Italy.

This traveler who already has two bazillion photos stored on her computer made importing more from her camera while she was in Italy also impossible.

Trying to decide where to begin in describing what we saw and did...almost equally impossible...

We had obstacles to this trip. A medical crisis that threatened to cancel our plans and did in fact temper our enthusiasm and ability to relax. I was so excited and yet so nervous about leaving my children -- especially Mason -- at home. The travel guides had been on my night stand for almost six months and yet, they lay unopened for the immediately-prior two months (at least). I was not even sure where to begin.

Thank goodness for friends shouting the must-sees in the days before we boarded that plane!

Will you laugh at me if I tell you in my head we were traveling back in time? I was so wrapped up in the history of the place that I actually got tickled as the pilot announced our descent -- because the thought hit me with some force that there must be some modern buildings in Rome as we were traveling by airplane for goodness' sake!

“When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; And when Rome falls--the World.”  Lord Byron, English Romantic Poet (1788-1824)

But as evidenced by our first stop -- the Coliseum (Or Colosseum) is still standing. Still. We climbed the ancient stairs, stood in the ancient walls and imagined the history that these walls witnessed.

It was not necessarily a pretty history. It was here that Gladiators fought animals, each other and prisoners -- and yes, some of those prisoners were political prisoners, Christians. The rulers gave the animal carcasses to the poor for food. The masses were entertained and the people convinced the games were in everyone's best interests.

The floor of the Coliseum would have been on top of this labyrinth of hallways, rooms and cells. I mentioned it before but will say it again, it was down here that surgical students would wait for a not-quite-dead victim that could be dissected and studied as it was illegal for students to learn on dead bodies. The floor was covered in sand in order to absorb the blood.

The Coliseum still stands. Can you imagine? Construction began in 70 AD -- more than 1,900 years ago. The amphitheater opened with Emperor Titus's 100 Days of Games in 80 AD. These games resulted in the death of 9,000 animals.

If you look carefully at the above photo, you will be able to see where the original travertine has been replaced by brick on the right hand side. The original travertine was taken from the structure for various buildings around Rome.

And in this, the stone that was witness to unspeakable horrors inside the arena, became instead the stones used for one of the world's most amazing places of worship -- St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City (below).

Men meant those travertine walls for evil, but God redeemed them for good. Isn't that amazing?


judy said...

love the view and living so vicariously through your adventures.

AZJrzyGrl said...

Not only are you a wonderful writer but you have taken some amazing pictures. Trip looks like it was wonderful. So happy for both of you.
Debi Frew