…your destination is always uphill.
Rome is madness.
From elbowing our way through Fiumicino airport unable to find our driver to the white-knuckle ride to the hotel, from looking down the street and seeing the looming colosseum to winding our way through the crowds at the base of the colosseum, from being assailed as we were exiting the cab in St Peter’s square to having a street vendor hawking a rose tell the Purrito “I love you” after she declined said rose twice, Rome was madness.
While I thought that we were accustomed to dealing with crowds and tourists and crowds of tourists, I’m still surprised by the number of people that were nearly everywhere we went (notable exceptions: random neighborhood basilicas and the Ponte Rotto), despite the fact that we went at the tail end of the nominal tourist season. While the gypsies and street hawkers are occasionally annoying in Paris (if you’re dumb enough to hang out under the Tour Eiffel or make an above-ground, frontal-approach to the Louvre), the number of assholes toting around roses, thrusting selfie sticks in your face, waving tissue-thin “scarves,” selling imported Chinese-made trash, pushily offering skip-the-line-tours, or hanging around in ill-fitting gladiator costumes (yeah bro, I want to pay 5€ so I can take a picture with your chain-smoking, beer-bellied, ridiculously-costumed self) was astounding.
All of that aside, Rome was impressive, though there’s a melancholic thread that runs through the ruins; I found myself wondering what things would have looked like had the medieval fervor for defiling the temples and relics of the past to please the god of the present (to be fair, the gods of the Roman pantheon were more human, more interesting, and perhaps most threateningly, more intimidating) not existed.
In any case, I’ve made it this far without referencing Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, so on to the pictures.
After foraging for food the first evening, both of us looked down the street and said “is that what I think it is?” It was.
Our first view of the colossuem in daylight.
The mandatory “oh shit, this thing is huge” shot.
You can see into the arena’s guts.
A small section of VIP seating has been reconstructed.
This is why I like fisheye lenses.
Bracing, provenance unknown. (Per the Purrito, an “engineer picture.”)
Embarassingly, I was very excited when I realized that I “remembered” this feature from Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood.
The entirety of the bottom rung has yet to be restored; the less-touched section is interesting-looking, though.
“Gladiators.” (Surreptitiously taken, this did not cost me 5€)
The Arch of Constantine. (I “remember” this too)
Keeping this poor thing standing is apparently a constant battle.
Old and new.
Initially I didn’t want to go in this basilica as I opened the door and spotted a number of nuns and monks…
…but they were tourists as well (from Germany).
The Roman Forum.
Roman Forum, alternate view.
It photographs well in black and white. That uniform blue sky is a bit unsettling in monochrome, though.
A pretty flower on a broken piece of marble.
The Arch of Septimus Severus. (I incorrectly identified this as the Arch of Titus, which was the one down the hill towards the colosseum. Mea culpa, Purrito.)
The forum must have been mind-blowing at its zenith.
We dig juxtapositions.
What remains of the Temple of the Vestals.
Another part of the forums. According to a nearby sign, crabs live here (they’ve apparently been inhabiting the sewers since Imperial times).
The Altar of the Fatherland, otherwise known as The Typewriter. Note the observation deck at top.
Man, Italian churches. (though I confess that I’ve become used to the cruciform design that the French use; the basilica layout melts my brain for reasons as-yet unknown)
We saw a large number of gorgeous ceilings.
Have you guys actually ever seen an elephant? I mean seriously.
The rear end of the Pantheon.
It looks better from the side. (Or looks more like I was expecting it to look, anyway)
The pantheon’s dome, still the largest unreinforced dome on the planet nearly 2000 years after its construction. The shit we build has a 20 year design life (though it’ll last longer if properly retrofitted). I’m so jealous.
Trevi Fountain was under construction, much to the consternation of the Purrito (chucking a coin over your shoulder and into the fountain supposedly means that you’ll return to Rome). I’ll request a waiver since it was under construction.
Saint-Teresa in Ecstasy, a Bernini work that we hiked halfway across the city to see. (It was worth it)
One of the streets near our hotel.
This hotey has ear socks. (He also smelled bad)
On day 2, we made an unscheduled trip to the top of The Typewriter.
The forum, as seen from the top of The Typewriter. The arch in the middle of the shot is the Arch of Titus, which has some hilariously angry reviews (guys, it’s been almost 2000 years) on Google Maps. (It’s a triumphal arch built using slaves brought back after the Romans successfully laid siege to Jerusalem in the first century CE)
The Pantheon, as seen from The Typewriter.
An illustration of an annoyance endemic to Rome; if it’s tall, it has been catholicized by slapping some asshole (usually Peter, as I understand it) or a cross on top of it. One thus has Egyptian obelisks imported by Romans with crosses at their tops.
That column was ancient when that inscription was made.
Ponte Rotto, which is in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, the Purrito understands that when I say “it’s an old Roman bridge” what I’m really saying is “I’m going to cry when we get home if I don’t see it.” So, we saw it. (It’s the oldest extant bridge in Rome! 2nd century BCE! Roman engineers really overdesigned everything)
The Ponte Fabricio, the oldest usable bridge in Rome.
Saint-Peter’s square. Not pictured: 759 “tour guides” offering skip the line tickets.
Castel Sant’Angelo. No flying Toscas, though.
The curiously neglected Mausoleum of Augustus.
Some nice sculpture on the edge of the Villa Borghese.
Romantics attract the scantily-clad women, apparently.
The Temple of Antonino and Faustina.
Borghese Gallery and Museum. Just for reference, “no bags allowed” means you can’t bring any bags in (there’s a bag check downstairs). On the other hand, whining about this to the guard who lets everybody into the museum at the appointed time (two hours only, reservation required, and they throw everybody out at the end of the two hours) will result in him waving you downstairs, huffing in an exasperated matter, and saying (not under his breath, mind you) I don’t speak fucking English.
This was a cardinal’s villa. Even the ceilings are nice…
Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne. One of two primary reasons we came to this gallery.
Viewing it, I wanted to touch the bark (she’s turning into a tree) to prove to myself that it was actually marble.
I’ve never seen gryphons like these.
Primary target number two (and another Bernini): The Rape of Proserpina.
Her flesh is indented like she’s actually being grabbed (note the shadows around his fingers).
It was even more difficult to believe that this piece was carved in marble.
The fashion exhibit scattered throughout the gallery was a bit lame, but it did yield this picture.
Fucking Caravaggio. Hilariously, we walked into this room, noted that we had seen all of the pieces on display (the bas-fonds exhibit must really have cleaned this room out), and sauntered out.
Fuck you guys, I’m leaving on the back of a bull.
One of the gladiator mosaics (salvaged from one of the ruins). Is that…?
Yup, it’s Fezzik.
Les hiboux are watching you.