Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine is a large triumphal arch in Rome next to the Colosseum. This arch is religiously significant because it commemorates the battle that led the Emperor Constantine to convert to Christianity, thereby changing the religious landscape of the western world.
I came at the entrance of the Palatino hill. I was told that it was closed, though, it was only 3:45pm but last entry was at 3:30pm. There were lots of school kids in their uniforms with bright red caps on them, they were playful and loud. We walked straight and then turned right and in front of me was Circo Massimo. On left hand side, renovation was being carried out. We kept walking and saw few people were jogging in this open space.
The Circo Massimo, the largest construction for performances ever built in history 600 m. long and 140m. wide is connected by legend to the origins of the city. Julius Caesar was the first to build a walled structure. The Circus was still used, maybe only partly until 549 when Totoila offered the last games.
On reaching other end of the Circu Massimo was Giano's Arch; the massive arch at the Velabrum marks the north-eastern limit of the Forum Boarium, the cattle market of ancient Rome. The core of the monument was constructed from bricks, and the surface was covered with white marble. It is likely that the arch was once better decorated; there must have been statues in the forty-eight, now empty niches. Nothing is left of any decorations.
Then we walked uphill and the Roman Forum was on our right hand side. We were standing on a little hill and enjoyed the beautiful view. There was a guy selling edible stuff in a small van. I bought lemon flavour gelati, though flavour was little bit strong but it was still delicious. Then I was walking back to the Colosseum once again. I could hear whistles coming out of the Roman Forum, it was a signal that people should leave the area and the monument was going to be closed very soon. I saw a family beside a statue of one of the Roman emperors; they were taking turns to take photos in front of it. They were doing in some style and with some seductive poses.
Painters on street
I saw few artists were painting on the floor with the spray. Nearly all of them were wearing masks in order to protect them from the fumes. Most of them had pre-set cast for certain types of paintings. Every here and there, tourist would gather to admire their skills. A cafť on left hand side was full of crowd. You couldnít ask for a better view with coffee?
It was dusk and darkness was fast approaching.
The Lateran obelisk
Then we went to Giovanni Laterano, Another Egyptian Obelisk, The Lateran obelisk is the largest standing obelisk in the world. Its inscriptions state that while it was begun during the reign of Tuthmosis III, it lay in the craftsmen's workshops for 35 years and was finally erected by his grandson Tuthmosis IV. The only single obelisk ever put up in Karnak Temple (obelisks usually came in pairs), it was removed under the orders of the Roman emperor Constantine (A.D. 274-337), who hoped to raise it in his new capital at Constantinople. He died before the obelisk ever left Egypt, and his son and successor Constantius (A.D. 317-361) had it taken to Rome, where it was re-erected in the Circus Maximus. Then this obelisk was lost in mist of history and it wasn't until the 16th century that Pope Sixtus V ordered a search for the monolith. It was found, in three pieces, some 23 feet down in the former Circus Maximus. On August 3, 1588, after more than a year of effort, the Lateran obelisk was raised in the Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, where it has stood ever since, a Christian cross on top of it.
Evening beside Fountain of Trevi
Then walked to Fountai di Trevi, it was packed with the crowd. I asked a girl to take our photo together. The minute she finished the photo, she wanted favour to be returned. So I took her photos. There were few sellers there; two Asian guys were selling gel like kittens. They were throwing those kittens on the floor; they would make a noise and then regain their shape.
I saw three girls there, one of them went on to the floor and she kissed the ground. One of her friends took her photos and they all started to laugh. It would say that must have been playing some sort of a game or challenge between them.
As we were walking back to the hotel, I saw the girl who had taken our photos few moments ago. She was coming from the opposite direction and she was walking really fast. Either she was a fast walker or she must have her twin sister with her on holidays. I saw a restaurant in front of the hotel and decided to have a dinner there. It was consisted of pizza, salad and rice. The owner had a young son who was helping him out in the kitchen.
Day two in Rome
Another early start to a new day in Rome, woke up at 6:15am, went to breakfast room at 7:10am. It was nice mix of continental breakfast with a good selection. There was a couple sitting next to us. He guy on that table filled his plate four times. I hope he was a gentleman and he was taking food for Mrs as well, even though she had her own plate filled with everything. We left hotel at 7:45am, needed to buy one day travel pass. I had seen tabacchi (corner shop) yesterday, close to the Termini Station. So we decided to walk in that direction. Beside Via Nazionale, I purchased two tickets for Ä6 each. It would give us unlimited travel access to buses, tram and metro travel in one day. By comparison with prices in Dublin, I think that was a good value for money.
From Termini Train Station, we took Line B which was called the Blue Line to Piramide station. The Pyramid was also covered in iron or steel casing. Porta San Paolo was next to it. That door was an ancient gateway in the Aurelian wall, which was constructed by the Emperor Aurelius in the 3rd century to defend against the Barbarians.
On the opposite side of the door was bus stop for route number 118. That bus was going to start its route from there. When bus arrived there, we were the first to enter. The driver had time in between the runs so we had to wait. On my right hand side was a book stall but no one was coming over to have a look because most of the people were going to work. Everyone seemed be in rush. After ten minutes waiting, driver started the engine (08:35). Now there were more people inside the bus. Bus passed Circu Massimo on left hand side and then got stuck in the Morning rush hour. It was crawling but when bus joined the main road, it picked up the speed again. The bust got stuck at red light at the main street, beside Porta San Sebastian. The traffic on the small road was heavy and whenever light was green, the driver couldnít move because there was no space on the road in front of him. There was also a traffic warden there. The driver dropped us on the small road and we crossed the road in order to go back.
Arch of Druso
The arch known as Drusoís arch, just before the Porta S. Sebastiano, is in reality one of the arches of the Antoninian aqueduct - at the point where this crossed the via Appia - it was built by Caracalla to supply his baths. In the course of the restoration work ordered by Honorius the arch along with Porta S. Sebastiano became part of a sort of defensive castle.
Porta San Sebastian
A gate was opened in the Aurelian walls for the via Appia, it was the southernmost in the Urbe, its original name was Porta Appia; from mediaeval times it became known as Porta S. Sebastiano because it led to the catacombs of the famous martyr.
The Aurelian walls
The senate of Rome decided to build new defensive walls around the city after the third Alemann invasion had been repelled; they had crossed the Alps but were pushed back by Aurelian in 270-271 A.D. The walls were built very quickly, being finished by Probus, Aurelianís successor in 279 A.D. The walls are about 19 km long and enclose an area of 135 hectares, including the seven hills of Rome and Trastevere district. Every 30 metres there are square lookout towers and along the wall there are numerous gates serving the roads leaving Rome.
The traffic was passing under both monuments. Something, Roman would be used to but for me it was a stuff of the legends. Then we started to walk on Via Appia, there was no footpath and road was very narrow but due to heavy traffic cars were moving slow. There were ruins of Horaceís Sepulchre-Sepolcro di Orazio After walking ten minutes, the traffic picked up the speed from opposite direction and I must say few times it was close. I bought a bottle of water from a cafť who had a little counter for cigarettes. Then road splits in two, we stayed on the left hand side.
There was a sign for San Callisto. I knew, I could have taken the same bus to come to San Callisto but that place still wasn't opened. So I wanted to walk along the way on the Via Appia, in order to see and feel the ancient roadís scattered building or burial places but also the importance of that road. There was a French guy standing on our side of the road. He tried to say something which none of us understood. He had no English or the Italian. He kept talking in French, poor guy, I thought. He looked frustrated.
I took out the map which I had on Kindle and showed him the monuments along the way. He put his finger at San Callisto Catacombs. I pointed to the sign, which he was in front of it. We came inside through the main door and went to a small window to purchase the tickets. This guy was in front of us and his troubles were not over yet. He gave Ä50 note to the guy at the counter but he told him that he didnít have change so he had to wait on the side.
It was 9:45am, and entry to the monument wasnít allowed till 10am. At 9:55am, a guy came over to the crowd and started to split them into smaller groups. People were divided into Italians, English, Spanish and French groups. The Italian group was the biggest, the English group was the second biggest and the French group contained only one person. I didnít need to mention who it was?
English guide had a mic and speaker was hanging in her neck. She brought us to a small room and explained the history of the site. Then we went downstairs, the temperature was lesser than the ground level. No bones on display, they were removed as per guide where public had access in the area. While other parts still had the bones.
About the site
Those were the largest and busiest of Romeís catacombs. Founded at the end of the 2nd century and named after Pope Calixtus I. They became the official cemetery of the newly established Roman Church. In the 20km of tunnels explored to date, archaeologists have found the tombs of 500,000 people and seven popes who were martyred in the 3rd century. Mostly kids buried as infant death rate was higher in those times. The patron saint of music, St Cecilia, was also buried there, though her body was later removed to the Basilica di Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. IT is said that when her body was exhumed in 1599, more than a thousand years after her death, it was apparently perfectly preserved, as depicted in Stefano Madernoís softly contoured sculpture, a replica of which is here.
The process of tunnelling involved carving of soft rock, when that rock reacted with oxygen, it turned into hard rock. Some family rooms were decorated with colours. There were few depictions on the wall to explain the religion, as many people were uneducated in those times.
One woman in our group was struggling with the steps. The guide had to wait after every few minutes, so she could join the rest of the group. Poor woman was out of the breath. A young boy was with his dad. It must say that he wasn't disheartened by the sight.
The tour finished at 10:30am, I decided to leave by bus number 218 because 118 had less frequency and if I missed one next would be in 45 minutes. This time, we went to the opposite road. It was same road which had split with Via Appia earlier. As soon as we came on the road one of the buses passed beside us. After waiting for five minutes at the bus stop, another bus arrived (218). I had pass with me but driver didnít ask for it. So it seemed likely that only ticket checker will be asking for the tickets. That bus brought me to Giovanni Metro stop. I took the Line B metro again and came to the Termini.
St. Peters Square and the Basilica
From Termini, I took red line to go to the Ottaviano Station (San Pietro). There was a guy inside the metro, who was playing music. He had huge speaker and music was being played from his mobile phone. His phone rang and he stopped playing the instrument because tune of phone was loud due to the fact that it was attached with the speaker. He started to play the music again, so came back the call. That phone had distinctive Nokia ringtone. The guy switched off the speaker answered his phone and got off the metro at the next stop.
The metro normally travelled in the tunnel but it went over the River Tiber once. After crossing the bridge, it went inside the tunnel once more. After coming off the metro and on to ground level, I was met by lots of people on the street trying to sell tickets for the St. Peter's Museums. Some of them were advertising that one could avoid the lengthy queue if they had purchased from them.
Entrance to the museum was on the right hand side. We walked straight to go to the St.Peter's Square, the area was full of crowd but I would say it wasnít that busy because many of the barriers were lying around and they were not in use.
St. Peter's Square is bordered on either side by semi-circular colonnades. The colonnades were built in 1660 and consist of four rows of columns with in total 284 Doric columns and 88 pilasters. The columns are 20 meters high (66 ft.) and 1.6 meters wide (5ft). 140 statues were installed on top of the colonnades, all created by Bernini and his students. They depict popes, martyrs, evangelists and other religious figures. On special occasions such as the election of a new pope or on Easter, almost 400,000 people fill the expansive square. There was another Egyptian obelisk in the square.
That obelisk, like two others in Rome, is uninscribed, and no one knows where it originally came from or who created it. It is known that Emperor Augustus ordered it erected in the Julian Forum in Alexandria, where it stayed until A.D. 37. That year, the Emperor Caligula had it removed to the Vatican Circus in Rome. According to the Egyptologist Labib Habachi, "Legend has it that in the Vatican Circus innumerable Christians, including St. Peter, were put to death and that the reason this obelisk was not later overturned as were all the others in Rome was that it was looked upon as the last witness to the martyrdom of St. Peter."
In the 16th century, the Pope Sixtus V directed the obelisk to be re-erected in the collonnaded square before the Basilica of St. Peter, where it remains to this day.
Yasir asked a police man for the entrance to the Basilica. He pointed to the lengthy queue, so we joined the queue at 11:40am. There were signs to wear proper clothing in order to visit the church. At the end of queue, there were three screening machines. When we were getting closer to the security check. They closed one of the side and queue slowed down. I put my camera bag through scanner and walked through scanner door. Few items were allowed inside.
St. Peter's Basilica
St Peterís Basilica in Vatican City is one of the most important Christian sites in the world and is a church rather than a cathedral. Also known as the 'Papal Basilica of Saint Peter' and in Italian as 'Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano', St Peterís Basilica sits over the site of the tomb of its namesake. St Peter was one of the twelve apostles in Christianity and is believed to have been crucified at the Circus of Nero, on which St Peterís Basilica was constructed in 324AD. At that time, the Circus of Nero also had a cemetery.
The current form of St Peterís Basilica began to form in the fifteenth century and was expanded and added to by various popes and architects over the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Whilst much of the building was designed by Bernini, the most celebrated architectural aspect of St Peterís.
Basilica is probably its vast dome. Designed by Michelangelo in the mid-sixteenth century, but not finished until after his demise, the dome of St Peterís rises a magnificent 448 feet in height.
Then I walked down stairs through a narrow entrance, there were few tombs of the pops inside the basilica, notably, Pope Pius XI (d.1939), Pope John XXIII (d. 1963) and Pope John Paul II (d. 2005).
When I was coming out, there was a queue on the left hand side to see the dome. One had to buy ticket in order to visit it. The Swiss guards were on one side of the building; their uniform was fluttering in the air. One was beside his tent and other was standing in the middle and looking at the crowd.
Walked on to Via dei Corridori, this started in front of the square. There were few tourist buses there and some of the Asian guys were trying to sell scarfs. One tourist got interested to buy one, three sellers converged on her. All of them were trying hard that she should buy from her. There was also strong presence of the police in the area. Came to Castle San Angelo. This castle was originally constructed as the magnificent Mausoleum of Hadrian, the fourteenth emperor of Rome from 117AD to 138AD. It is unclearly as to exactly when Castel Saint Angelo was built, but most sources date it to between 123 and 139 AD. Today, Castel Saint Angelo houses a museum which tells the story of its history, from the Roman remains of the Mausoleum of Hadrian to remnants of the fortified castle, the original prison cells and the papal apartments.
St. Angelo Bridge was in front of the castle. It was built in 136 by AD Emperor Hadrian, in order to get access to the castle.
After the castle, I passed beside a beautiful building of Procura Generale della Repubblica (Attorney General's Office). It led us to an open square Piazza Cavour. We had lunch in a cafť. It was one of the nicest lunch roll I ever had.
After lunch, came to the Lepanto metro station that brought us to the Termini Station, it was packed with the crowd. We wanted to take Blue Line (B) but we ended up on the wrong side of the track. So we had to catch the metro on the opposite side. It was becoming little confusing there, we ended up on A line's track. We came out on to the upper part of the station and then followed directions of the Line B. The train arrived but it was full already. Only few people managed to get on board. One thing which I noticed while I was standing there was graffiti on the trains. They looked painted newly and well maintained but graffiti was making them look horrible.
Next metro arrived within three minutes. It was packed also but I was determined to go inside. A black woman was standing at the door (inside the metro), she didnít move so it was very hard to enter the door. An Italian guy started to shout at her. She ignored him in the beginning but then she answered him back but guy kept going. That scene was making other people uncomfortable.
I got off at the Circu Massimo station, came to the Palatine hill entrance. I was meant to have my ticket from yesterday but I had left it inside my shirt's pocket, which I was wearing yesterday. There was no separate ticket for the Palatine or the Roman Forum. So I bought two new combo tickets again. I asked Yasir jokingly if he wanted another round of the Colosseum with his new ticket.
The Palatine hill
While I was walking to the Palatine Hill or Palatino, as Italians would call it. I saw a couple sitting on a bench and kissing passionately. I asked them if they wanted photo of them together? The guy said no, the woman felt bit embarrassed (my apologies, madam). They knew that it was a tourist place not an ideal place for snogging and body exploring. There was some renovation work being carried out on some of the buildings.
it is considered to be the place where Rome was born. One of Romeís seven hills. Legend says that the twins Romulus and Remus were taken to Palatine Hill by a she-wolf who raised them. Here they founded a village which would become Rome.
Then Romulus killed his brother at the Palatine Hill. Romulus thus became the namesake of Rome. Indeed, the Palatine Hill is where the earliest huts of Rome were found, supposedly built under the remit of Romulus.
As it developed, the Palatine Hill became one of the most affluent areas in Ancient Rome. This continued under the Roman Empire, when the Palatine Hill was home to Romeís most prominent figures. It was also where the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, Augustus was born in 63 BC.
Today, the Palatine Hill offers some of Rome's best ancient sites, including, the House of Augustus, the House of Livia (Augustusís wife), the home of several of Romeís emperors - the Domus Augustana - and the Palace of Septimius Severus. The view over this Hill was breath-taking, overlooking Rome from the height of 70 meters. I could see a building of UNICEF building, few nicely lined trees and in the background were thermal baths and the mountains rising in the far.
Then I came to the Roman Forum, there was no o ticket check but if some would come from the Colosseum side. There was a ticket checking in place. Now it explained why Palatine hill was closed at 3:30pm yesterday, because people needed to enter from the Hill and finish at the Roman Forum. I saw a guy was carrying a girl on his shoulder and running. He put her on a stone, while she was standing there. They started to kiss each other. She came down and walked back where she came from, a little fun and games.
The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum (Forum Romanum) was the central area of the city around which ancient Rome developed. Here was where commerce, business, prostitution, cult and the administration of justice took place. The Roman Forum was designed by the architect Vitruvius with proportions 3:2 (length to width). For centuries, the Forum Romanum was the site of the city's most important public buildings, such as the Arch of Septimius Severus, built in AD203 and the Roman Forum Rostra or platforms for public speeches. The reliefs on the triple arch represented many of Rome's victories over oriental tribes and the Rostra was decorated with prows of warships captured during battles. The Roman Forum became the spectacular showcase of the Roman Empire filled with beautiful statues and architecture.
The main sights of the Forum include the Arch of Titus (Arco di Tito), the Temple of Saturn, Temple of Vesta, and the church of San Luca e Martina. These are all linked by the Sacra Via, the main road through the Forum. After coming out of the Roman Forum, I took left turn and it brought me to the Teatro di Marcello (theatre of Marcello). It looked like younger brother of the Colosseum.
At that time of its construction, the Theatre of Pompey already existed. However, to compete with a rival, Julius Caesar decided to build a new theatre nearby. He annexed a large area and didn't hesitate to demolish existing buildings, including two temples. Theatrical productions were offered to the general public during election campaigns, and building a theatre proved to be an excellent propaganda tool. When Caesar died, his successor Augustus continued the project. When completed, that theatre could hold between 15000 - 20000 spectators.
Next to the theatre was Il Portico di Ottavio, It was erected in 146 B.C. at the southernmost point of Campus Martius by Quintus Caecilius Metellus. It was part of the triumphal procession route taken by the emperor in arms and the army to celebrate victories and the trophies of battle. Between 33 and 27 B.C., Emperor Augustus named the area Circus Flaminius. He restored the entire complex using victory spoils from Dalmatia, dedicating the portico to his sister Ottavia.
Then we walked to the river. Just before the bridge, a guy was selling colourful butterflies which were clung on the walls of the bridge.
Island in the Tiber River
A police man was standing with a gun in his hand. That small island was only 270m long and 67m wide. Few ducks were swimming just after the bridge, the current was strong but ducks were safely enjoying their daily routine close to the bank. A wood was floating in the water and it seemed it was caught in whirlpool, In Yasir's opinion; it was a guy, who was swimming.
We sat at the front of a cafe and ordered orange juice. The waitress brought it outside on the table. The juice was squeezed inside the cafe (pure and fresh). Ä3.5 for a glass of freshly squeezed juice, it was a bargain.
Now we were heading back to the hotel, so we decided to the metro beside the Colosseum. While I was walking back, saw a girl wearing very skimpy dress. An old woman gave her a dirty look. A beggar woman on the road had her forehead on the ground. She wasn't moving, seemed that she was in trance or something. I went to the opposite of the Colosseum. There was a guy, who was shouting in front of a restaurant, ďItalian food in an Italian kitchenĒ. He kept repeating the phrase till he caught an eye of an English family with two kids. All of them started to talk on the footpath. In the next restaurant, a girl was standing on the footpath and she shouted in Italian. ďI want to go for a pee real badĒ. Yasir translated for me, poor girl, I thought.
We took metro from Colosseum station to the Termini and from termini to the Bernini station and then walked to the hotel. After collecting my bag from the hotel, we walked to the Bernini Station again. The metro was full inside and there was no place for the bag to put but Yasir managed to stand to put it in between his legs, while standing.
Train ticket at the Termini
At Termini Station, a Bengali guy came over to us and asked in Urdu if we wanted to buy ticket? I told him yes. He told me that he could help me to buy one? I didn't understand why he wanted to help us. I thought, there was something fishy, so I told him that I would be fine. We went to the information desk, and asked about the regular train but there was no regular train till very late and price difference wasn't huge so we decided to take Freccia Rosa once gain.
After purchasing the tickets, we came to the platform, there was another train there but it left within five minutes and the train we were supposed to take, arrived there. This time we went to the correct wagon. In front of us was an Italian middle aged man and he was taking to his wife very loud. She told him to take out the headphones from his ears. Probably he was playing music, thatís' why he was loud. The wife sat down first and guy store a bag over her head but bag was heavy and during that process the bag hit her in the head. She turned around and said something in Italian, she wasn't happy.
She opened her laptop and started to watch a movie. The guy felt little embarrassed and started to talk to Yasir in Italian. For me it was right time to write the diary. After writing for half an hour. I felt sleepy, only to be woken up Yasir because had a call from his cousin Zahoor, who wanted to talk to me. Zahoor was planning to move to England so he wanted to know the system and culture over there.
It took us around two hours to reach Bologna. At the station, police stopped a black guy with a bicycle; police didnít seem to be happy with something. But after questioning, they let him go.
While we were waiting for our next train to Farerra at 9:20pm. A guy came over to Yasir and asked him if he could help him to buy a ticket from the vending machine. The guy was Moroccan and he didn't know how to read Italian. Yasir helped him out.
There was a double decker train on the same plate form, where we were meant to take our train. That train was going to Venice, but it would pass through Farerra. There was an Italian guy sitting on my left hand side. He took out his notes and started to read. For me it was normal thing to do but Yasir told me to watch him. I didn't understand what he meant by that. He told me that the guy was after girls.
A girl walked into the wagon and that guy glanced at her, when she passed him. He watched her all the way to her seat then he stood up and went to sit beside her. The logic behind whole thing was that the guy wanted to score a girl so if a girl saw him reading a book or notes that would mean that he was an intelligent and hardworking student and most likely, she would fall for him.
A bit strange tactic to get a girl but strange things do happen. The train arrived at Ferrara station at 9:50pm and Nasir was waiting at the front of the station to pick us up.