colosseum, cigarettes and other stuff

Time for my smoke, Hannah suggested at breakfast. And she took a hearty breath inward.

Don’t worry. No anticipation that we’ll start them early, or at all. But if we were, we would make it inexpensive and just get them to gather butts from the sidewalks: they are in abundance.

Can you die from second hand smoke? Madelyn asked.

Yup, I think in this country, you could.

Do you know what this is? I pointed to an item in the gift shop.

Nope, the kids confessed.

It’s an ashtray. With a picture of the Colosseum.

There was also a bobble head Pope. I’ve thought about bringing you one home. There was a shop where you could buy clothes that the pope wears. A calendar with a good looking priest fronting the cover…I’m thinking it was a bunch of the hottest cardinals or priests from around the Roman Catholic dominion…who voted those guys into the calendar? The same people that voted for the last pope? Are they dressed in white speedos?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t stop to look. No I didn’t…no, I didn’t. Stop saying I did. I really didn’t. I’m sure I’ll see more junk, I mean stuff, to buy at the Vatican tomorrow.

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Today it was all Colosseum. Nothing quite compares to the actual Colosseum. I was tempted to buy a Colosseum that would fit into the palm of my hand; one that would sit alongside my Eiffel Tower or Kenyan elephant; but in my attempts to downsize, I will stick to supplementing my bookmark collection and leave it at that.

Is the experience worth the effort? Really? Yes, absolutely. With one step toward the Via Sacra, we saw the ruins of the Colosseo, and off to the right, the Palantine. Feels like you’ve stepped into another world, the ancient world, minus the pretend Caesar’s waiting for your handshake, a camera flash and an extra Euro in their pocket.

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The Colosseum was built in AD 80 by Emperor Nero, in honour of…himself. That’s just the kind of guy he was.

55, 000 filled the amphitheater, women (and slaves) seated at the top, where they couldn’t see anything. Can’t say that kind of discrimination bothers me though.

It really is huge. It really feels ancient. And it really reflects how impressive their architecture was.

In its inaugural games, over 9,000 wild animals were killed. The Gladiators themselves were slaves, or prisoners or wars, or generally men (though some female) that were condemned to die.

The crowd loved the events, cheering viciously. Curiously, the tour guide reported that there is no historical evidence that Christians were put to death in the Colosseum; yes, in the Circus Maximus, but not the Colosseum. I didn’t get a chance to ask why a cross was erected as the very first thing one sees when entering the atrium. Eventually Christianity put an end to the death games of humans.

When the Roman Empire fell, so did the Colosseum…or at least active use of it. It was pillaged of its grainy marble. No one took care of it. It began to crumble and wear. And it is what it is today. Pics don’t do it justice, though we all tried today.

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