- Education and Science
Roman Empire Knowledge and Quiz
It Fascinates and Inspires
When we arrived in Rome by taxi from the airport it was exciting but also quite shocking. The first major building we passed that stood out in our minds was the Colusseum. Suddenly we were back in time and for a brief moment we pictured a part of the horror that this place represents.
Then we passed ruins with columns, minorets on rooftops, funny looking bridges and the ancient wall that seems to extend forever with arches that surrounds the city. As the taxi sped towards our destination, a pensionne (guest house) that our travel agent had booked for us, there on the left was the unmistakable St.Peters Square and the Vatican. The kids were almost jumping out of the cab with joy for their expectations were being more than fulfilled.
The next morning we emerged from the guest house and took a few steps along the street and were suddenly above the Trevi fountain and walking down possibly the most famous steps in the world into the main Plaza. The film Three Coins in a Fountain suddenly came flooding into my head and there in the bottom of the main basin were coins, hundreds of them
The Trevi Fountain
It sits in the heart of Rome and flows constantly with water, Its history is rather fascinating and here are some facts from Wikipedia. "Standing 25.9 meters (85 feet) high and 19.8 meters (65 feet) wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world."
The fountain was built to supply Rome with water from an aquaduct (pictured) after fresh water was discovered some 13km from the city. It was fed into this canal known as the Aqua Virgo. This stream also led water into the Baths of Agrippa and was in service for over four hundred years before it fell into ruin. "In 1453, Pope Nicholas V finished mending the Acqua Vergine (note the change in name) aqueduct and built a simple basin, designed by the humanist architect Leon Battista Alberti, to herald the water's arrival" Wikipedia.
In the Heart of Rome
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The First Day
We picked up our hire car from just around the corner from where we were staying and I drove for the first time on the right hand side of the road. Our first night in Rome was very noisy and hard to sleep through. First of all our bodies were out of sinc with the local time due to jet lag, But the noise from the street was horrendous,
All night long cars bipped their horns, people shouted out, fights and arguments could be heard rising from the footpaths below and the trafiic noise was horrendous. Somehow at some stage we did grab a couple of hours of sleep in this strange place.
We had been warned not to drink the water so the following morning we brushed our teeth using a bottle of water in the room. We could wash in the normal way and the showers we each had were very refreshing, The breakfast, however, was something else. Its called a Continental breakfast and consists of a bun or crescent and a small pot of jam with either tea or coffee. This was around our dinner time back home so it sort of did nothing much for us.
Starting out it was much easier to drive around Rome than I expected. Every corner, however, would bring horn blasting in my direction from several drivers either behind or beside me. Ignoring them as best I could we found the Vatican and went in for a look. It is huge and very hard to photograph inside as the light just disappears from the camera, There are many pedlars outside selling photos of inside and souvenirs, Obviously parking the car in the wrong spot was not a good idea and a fine was pinned to the windscreen when we returned to it, which I threw into the glove box.
We bought souvenirs from the leather factory at the back of the building and they included a chess board and a couple of hand bags engraved with my name. The photograph above (copyright to me) is of a pope's grave which serves as an altar. This type of scene occurs on every altar of which there seems to be dozens around the rotunda building. The dome is so high one can barely get the head back far enough to view it,
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Second Day out of Rome
We decided that it was time to get out of Rome and head South for a look at an old city I had long dreamt about - Naples. In the country it is called Napoli and it is some 2 hours drive along a very fast highway.
One of the things that struck me on leaving Rome was the row upon row of high rise apartments that seem to go on forever. Here is where most of the population live. They could not possibly fit within the wall that frames the old city and within which lie the ruins, In fact, what we were passing were modern style architecturally constructed blocks of high-rise that you might see in any city of the world.
Naples was a bit of a disappointment as it was crowded, hard to drive around, had street stalls everywhere selling mainly fruit with heaps of watermelons and tomatoes, and the streets themselves are very narrow, Dominating the skyline, however, is the unforgettable shape of Mount Vesuvius. We parked the car and walked around and bought some food to keep us going and then decided to drive further south and look around,
Just outside the city we saw a turn off to Sorento but the road seemed to go nowhere important so we ignored it. We stopped again and just took in the views of the harbiour and what might have been if we have the means to cross the water to the island. Naples, from this direction, looks lovely.
Back in the car we soon found a most remarkable and unexpected tourist attraction. Pompeii was already in news broadcasts and documentaries and it was one of those archaeological sites that had only recently been opened to the public. The year was 1979 and my two children were only 9 and 10 years of age at that time but they were as excited as me to be here. Cramming their heads with information about the volcano and damage it had done so long ago was one thing but there were many surprises in store for us as we walked around the ancient site.
Even today there is power in the buildings, the cities and the people
Do You Feel the Power?
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