Friday, October 7, 2011

Rome Part II: Imperial Rome, etc.

This post is written in memory of my grandmother, Lila Feinberg, who passed away on Monday. She was a world traveler seeing many places that people only dream of going to. Grandma was so excited about our travels around Europe and would read our blog frequently. This one's for you G. December 6, 1926 - October 3, 2011

May 2011

On Sunday our first stop was Piazza Navona. This piazza used to be a Roman stadium for chariot races, but is now one of the most famous piazzas in Rome to people watch, eat and drink, and see street art. This piazza is featured in Angels and Demons (the scene where Tom Hanks saves the last cardinal from drowning... sorry if I just spoiled it for you).

He stood very still!
The obelisk.

We then walked to the Pantheon, an incredible structure built in 126 AD whose dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. It was much bigger than we expected it to be and we were amazed at the architecture. We were unable to go inside as they were holding church services, but we plan to return in about four weeks with Ma and Pa Feinberg.

Hand in hand we walked towards the Roman Forum and Colosseum. When we turned a corner tears started to form in my eyes. Right there in the short distance in front of us was the Colosseum. Ever since I studied about the Ancient Roman civilization (and then taught it for two years when I first started teaching) I have wanted to come here... and the Colosseum embodied that entire feeling for me. Jon wasn't sure what was going on, but then laughed it off when he realized they were tears of happiness. We had always put off coming to Italy because we knew there was a chance that we'd live here. I just can't believe we've been given this opportunity.

After my tear fest, we walked around the Roman Forum and marveled at the remaining structures from over 2,000 years ago. We tried to picture the hustle and bustle with the ancient government buildings at work: elections taking place, people orating public speeches, criminal trials being held, and celebratory military processions taking place, among others.

We walked through the Circus Maximus, which was the site for chariot races during ancient times. Now it is a public park.
The Circus Maximus.
Next up was the Colosseum. It's massive size was more impressive than any picture could have prepared me for! As we looked around we kept thinking, "How did they manage to build this without the use of modern technology?" The answer as it turns out was 40,000 Jewish slaves... go figure. We were astonished at the architecture of it, as well as the attention to detail that was put into it. For example, there was tiered seating which provided different areas for different classes and could hold around 50,000 people. Each person had their own ticket to get inside and each seat was numbered (though there was standing room for the slaves up top). Inside the center there were two levels of tunnels and cages with 80 vertical shafts, elevators, and pulleys to give instant access to the arena for caged animals and scenery and the gladiators. Although it's gruesome to think about what happened here, it's still pretty spectacular that this was even built!

So happy!
That concluded Sunday's adventures. On our way to dinner on Friday night we went to the Spanish steps and the Trevi Fountain. The Spanish Steps, also known as Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti in Italian, consists of 138 steps connecting the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti at the top. It is the widest staircase in Europe!

Afterwards we walked to the Trevi Fountain, one of the most famous fountains in the world and is a striking piece of work! It stands about 85 feet high and 66 feet wide. We saw the fountain at night when it was illuminated giving it an aura of serenity and tranquility. Although we didn't throw the traditional coins into the fountain (it was way too crowded to get close enough) we felt our wishes had come true just by being there together.


  1. Sorry to hear about your grandma, she looked like a beautiful lady and you, Cheryl have her smile.
    Sounds like you had a wonderful time in Rome and thanks for posting all the pics, your blogs are always so interesting and fun to read.

  2. First of all, I love how you dedicated this to grandma. She was a really great woman and I bet she would have loved reading this. Second, your picture from the top of the Spanish Steps is SO should frame that. And finally, you are such a great writer, I loved reading this and I'm so glad you two are there having the time of your lives!

  3. What a lovely tribute to your Grandma! I am sure she is so proud of you. The Trevi Fountain was my favorite site in Roma. So glad you guys are taking it all in and living out your dreams!

  4. A very special post, Cheryl! This blog will become a book some day! You are a talented writer.

  5. Cher, This post was absolutely beautiful! Grandma looked so happy in this picture with you. What a wonderful way to pay tribute to her.