When in Rome…

(James) By the time we awoke at a not indecent hour Charlie was long gone, in fact whilst planning our day – Em and I sightseeing and Jack to finally purchase a decent replacement helmet – Charlie came home from having done a ‘day’s work’ (Cyprus and back). Em and I headed out to see the sights on what was already a beautiful day, crossing the Tiber into the city’s heart. Our itinery won’t be a surprise to anyone who’s been to Rome – and won’t surprise anyone who hasn’t – and so we took in the wonders of the Coliseum, not named, it turns out, because of its sheer size despite having a capacity of 50,000 people (it was small compared to the nearby Circus Maximus – think Ben Hurr chariot races – that had a capacity of 250,000!!) but because of the colossal statue of the Emperor Nero that once stood outside the front entrance. The Coliseum itself is still staggering even when compared to modern stadia – it’s hard to imagine that 2000 years ago they could build such a building, one that came (like any modern stadium) with kitchens etc for food sellers in the crowd, that had numerous trapdoors in the arena floor underneath which existed a complicated system of lifts and pulleys that would bring new gladiators and animals into the fray, that could be flooded (that’s right, despite all this the arena floor could be made water tight!) so that naval battles could also be recreated.

We spent time seeing the Palantine, the Roman Forum , Trevi fountain and relaxing in Piazza Rotunda starring in wonder at the Pantheon with its enormous  unsupported domed ceiling – whose construction, even to this day baffles architects and engineers who admit that any attempt to construct something similar today would result in a building with a very short shelf life and certainly wouldn’t still be standing and still be in use as a church without any real problems after 2000 years!

Despite all of this, Em’s favourite place was Piazza Argentina, a square that as well as containing the ruins of 4 Roman temples is home to about 200 abandoned cats who are cared for by a local charity (we ended up going there twice!), where she able to wander round, stroke cats and take way too many photos!

What really amazed me in particular about Rome (I, unlike Em had never been there before) was the sheer scale and amount of Roman architecture that survives to this day. I guess I sort of expected it to be in certain areas of the city sealed off to protect it, but what you can’t prepare yourself for is the fact it is quite literally everywhere you look, in almost every street you can see Roman columns standing alone or in pairs, columns that once supported arches and ceilings now long gone, that anywhere else in the world would find them screened off from the public but not in Rome where they stand next to houses, cafes and gelaterias. There are even Roman buildings, some three or four storeys high that have simply been ‘extended’ and now have more modern fifth and sixth floor containing flats or offices sitting atop of them. Seeing this, it’s sometimes hard to decide whether this is some sort of historical/culture sacrilege or whether it’s Romans ‘embracing’ their history by using these buildings and ‘adding’ to them just have they over the last 20 centuries, either way Rome is an incredible city that oozes character and charm and I instantly felt at home there.

2 Responses to “When in Rome…”

  1. Darren says:

    Did you see this James?

    Centurion: What’s this, then? “Romanes eunt domus”? People called Romanes, they go, the house?
    Brian: It says, “Romans go home. ”
    Centurion: No it doesn’t ! What’s the latin for “Roman”? Come on, come on !
    Brian: Er, “Romanus” !
    Centurion: Vocative plural of “Romanus” is?
    Brian: Er, er, “Romani” !
    Centurion: [Writes "Romani" over Brian's graffiti] “Eunt”? What is “eunt”? Conjugate the verb, “to go” !
    Brian: Er, “Ire”. Er, “eo”, “is”, “it”, “imus”, “itis”, “eunt”.
    Centurion: So, “eunt” is…?
    Brian: Third person plural present indicative, “they go”.
    Centurion: But, “Romans, go home” is an order. So you must use…?
    [He twists Brian's ear]
    Brian: Aaagh ! The imperative !
    Centurion: Which is…?
    Brian: Aaaagh ! Er, er, “i” !
    Centurion: How many Romans?
    Brian: Aaaaagh ! Plural, plural, er, “ite” !
    Centurion: [Writes "ite"] “Domus”? Nominative? “Go home” is motion towards, isn’t it?
    Brian: Dative !
    [the Centurion holds a sword to his throat]
    Brian: Aaagh ! Not the dative, not the dative ! Er, er, accusative, “Domum” !
    Centurion: But “Domus” takes the locative, which is…?
    Brian: Er, “Domum” !
    Centurion: [Writes "Domum"] Understand? Now, write it out a hundred times.
    Brian: Yes sir. Thank you, sir. Hail Caesar, sir.
    Centurion: Hail Caesar ! And if it’s not done by sunrise, I’ll cut your balls off.

  2. Littlewood mi says:

    Reg: “What have the Romans ever done for us?”

Leave a Reply