Nom de Plumage

July 2, 2012

Who Cries Over Ancient Ruins? I Do!

Sunday morning in Rome and everyone is either in church or at confession. What do I do on a Sunday morning? Wait for two hours at Zagarolo train station for the Pope to say “Amen” before all trains resume service. A morning wasted! I eventually arrive in city at 11:20 am and make a quick dash to the tourist bureau for a map. Really recommend a map because Rome is huge and there is so much to explore. The Ancient Ruins are about a 30 minute walk from the train station, but longer if you stop along the way to explore bookstores. But once there, you cannot miss it. It is a perfect day to explore, with the sun shinning and not a drop of rain or gust of wind. With most shops closed on a Sunday, all things ancient are a perfect way to spend the day and every tourist had the same bright idea because there was so many people.But, I was warned!

When I first got a glimpse of what was once the seat of ‘absolute rule’ in the ancient world, I was transported back in time. Years of neglect and the ravages of weather and war, have decimated this historical ‘time-capsule’ and what remains are the crumbled remnants of red bricks and mortar. And yet, there is still an element of the magnitude of the size of the city and the impressive structures that made up this glorious site. There is sadness of what once was and never will be again, but also happiness that two thousand years after the demise of Rome, there is still some reminders. Mixed in with the old, is the impressive new seat of power. The white massive stone structure of Parliament, stands behind or in front of the ruins, dominating the landscape. High above on the front steps of the Parliament, is a great view of the Rome that still stands today.

There is no help for it. I must queue and then pay to enter the site of the ruins. There is a road descending down and onto the site and once reached, I walk the same roads that Rome’s greatest citizen’s walked. Touching where allowed, the red bricks and dirty white stones lay fallen and in disarray. What came over me, I will never know, but the tears gently fell and I became emotional and overwhelmed by it all. I have read so many books, both historical and fiction about Rome and her famous citizen’s, that at times I felt that I almost lived the era. So to eventually walk and breathe it, was an emotional experience. The once mighty ‘Roman Forum‘, the site of Julius Caesar’s death, is all but gone. What remains are six mighty pillars and memories. Past religious ruins of the Pontifus Maximus and the Circus Maximus, under the massive arches of the granary entrance and onwards to gardens and stately homes, I touched.

The only other place that you have to queue to visit, is the home of Augustus Caesar. Tucked away in what would have been a very ordinary neighbourhood, this humble man’s dwelling was small and unpretentious. Fragile, Rome is doing all that it can to preserve for future generations. Therefore, only a small group of ten are allowed each time to go in and you are allowed only ten-fifteen minutes. There really was not a lot to see, but it still was special.

When you exit the ancient site via the back gate, you walk across the road to the most famous of all ‘ancient ruins’, the Colosseum. Now one must remember that only a third of the original structure is still standing. In saying that, it was still smaller than I expected. It is still an impressive structure. To walk the wide dark stone corridors, through the many arched doorways and up stairs to the levels above, you can only imagine the excitement and terror that ruled in the days of barbaric entertainment. To look down from the third level, to the ‘stage’ below and the many narrow maze of corridors, I can only speculate what and who walked the maze of terror. Due to decay, the floor of the stage is all but gone and what remains is the underground tunnels that lead to dens and prison cells. A must-see when in Rome.


I continue exploring the city and find a gelato shop on my way. No I did not pass it without buying one – strawberry and baccio. Then, I get lost. My map as this stage was stupidly thrown away and so it took me an hour to get my bearings. I missed my train and waited an hour for the next one. One thing I was to discover that the Zagarolo line is very popular and to get a seat is near impossible. So standing room only. When I arrive back at the hostel, I meet my new room-mate. An Aussie from Sydney, Gayle and I become firm firms over dinner. We plan to spend the next day together exploring more of Rome.


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