Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Roman Underground

I only have one more chapter to read in my textbook; we're past Gorbachev and on to Yeltsin now, but these last few chapters are longer than most of the earlier chapters.  I already read the penultimate (I should get bonus points for using that word) chapter today so I'll just save the last one for tomorrow.  Then next week I'll start on essay #2.

But for now, let us leave dismal, rainy England (it is a stereotypically English day today, rainy and a bit chilly...lucky for me I got the dogs walked before it started pouring, unlike yesterday when we walked in the rain!) anyway, leave dismal, rainy England for sunny Italy!  I don't remember if I posted this pic already or not since I started looking through our small camera pics today:

There we are in Pompeii.  And here's beautiful Sarah:

Part of the reason (most of the reason) we walked all the way from our hotel to the Colosseum was that we were trying to find four Roma passes, which get you unlimited public transportation for three days and also free admission to two selected attractions (the Colosseum being one of them, and you get to skip the long line if you have a Roma pass) and reduced admission after the first two freebies.  We got three passes without too much trouble but it took us forever to find the fourth one.

Lee and Scott at the cafe where I discovered the lever-on-the-floor thing to make the bathroom sinks work.

Ok, so after the Colosseum and the Forum, we made our way over to the Church of San Clemente to start a Roman underground tour.  Unlike the Pompeii trip, this tour was *awesome* though it was all on foot, so lots of walking and of course lots of stairs.  We went to several churches that were built on top of older churches that were built on top of old manor houses--Rome is basically a giant stack of archaeological pancakes.  Really, really OLD pancakes.

This is one of the bell towers that were built by two guys I think were brothers or something and they built towers all over Rome and they all look alike.  (Yeah, I took great notes during the tour.  I promise the tour guide was phenomenal.)

The discs are plates from Muslim countries.  The Italian architects liked the colors, and they had lots of them, so they used them in building the bell towers everywhere.

I was excited to see SPQR lots of different places, mostly because I learned what it meant (the senate and people of Rome) from Rick Riordan's Heroes of Olympus books (Son of Neptune to be exact).  I just thought it was cool.

This is a courtyard of one of those churches built on top of another church; they excavated a lot of the building but the previous church's courtyard is right under the current courtyard so they elected to leave that bit alone.  I think this might be the church that had an aquifer running through its underground bits and they're still not sure where the water comes from, but the 2000-plus-year-old Roman plumbing still drains it properly, which is pretty impressive.

Archway across from one of the churches and I think this might actually be part of an old Roman aqueduct.  Every time we see a series of arches, I say to Lee, "Look, a Roman aqueduct!" even when it's like a bridge for a train or something (have I shared that anecdote before?).  This time it might actually BE an aqueduct.  I know we passed one, but my memory is getting fuzzy since it's been a couple months since our trip.  Need to go back and verify what we took pictures of, hehe.

Roman recycling.

During the tour, we passed by several weddings, including one in this church.  The chandeliers look a little incongruous, don't you think?  They used to be in a hotel (or a series of hotels?) in New York, and through some weird connection when the hotels were demolished, the chandeliers got sent here to this church, which kind of makes for an interesting addition to the decor.

Check out that lady's dress, would you?  Click on the picture to enlarge.  This must be that Italian high fashion or something...she was a guest at one of the weddings we went past.  (Sarah laughed very hard that I took her picture.  Surreptitiously, but I still took her picture.)

See, there's the wedding, but despite our attempt to dawdle we didn't get to see the bride.  As the only two girls in a 7-person tour group, Sarah and I got overruled.

This, believe it or not, is HALF of the Circus Maximus, which could seat about a gabillion people for chariot races.

We asked why it wasn't being excavated, and partially it's because it would be expensive, and also the area is still used for free public events like concerts so the government isn't too interested in digging it up.

Another SPQR on a bridge leading towards the Trastavere area.  There's a modern legend that if you and your sweetheart put a lock on the bridge and throw the key into the river, then your love will last forever.  Of course, the government comes through about once a month and takes off all the locks, so mostly it just means wasted metal and a riverbed full of random keys.  I think there's one like this in Paris too.

That was the end of our tour and I wish I had been able to take notes as we went because a.) I'm a nerd that way and b.) I can't remember all the churches we went to.  Sarah is now convinced I have an unhealthy obsession with dead people because I kind of enjoyed going into the crypts and such; lucky for her she wasn't with us in Paris when we went to the catacombs in Paris.  I could have sworn I did a post on those but it seems to have disappeared?  Wonder how many of my past posts may have been eaten by the Internet...hmm.


Giffysk8s said...

am loving the towers with the plates. Wish I had seen those. Maybe I did and didn't realize what I was seeing. There's so much to see in Rome that it's hard to remember many details, Like you, I like to take notes, but I lost my little notebook. :(

I love your comment about Roman recycling!

I do remember your post about the catacombs in Paris. At least I think I do. :)

CCsMom said...

OK, you will laugh about this -- I was in Latin in high school for either 3 or 4 years and was a member of the SPQR Latin Society and I NEVER KNEW what it stood for. Now I do. I've been edumacated!!!

Love the picture of you and Lee at the top of the post. That is super cool. And Sarah is such a cutie. Looks like you had a great time.

Oh, and that woman's high fashion -- that just shows you that what's on the runway DOES NOT LOOK GOOD on common folk, although she looks like she's at least MARRIED TO A LOT OF MONEY. She's too old for something that short anyway. Just funny.

Giffysk8s said...

I just read your post on my blog. I already knew you are a brainiac, so the SPQR thing didn't surprise me one bit!

I'll email you about Versailles. Might not get to it for a days, though.

Have a great weekend!