5 PICTURE ALBUM
Friday, September 5
Steve: Today brought back several memories for Paula
and me as we explored Rome. We spent much of the day simply wandering around
the streets and taking it all in. What amazed us again was how around every
corner there seems to be some new beautiful square, monument or building.
We found ourselves constantly checking our book to see what we had just stumbled
into. This is how we ended up at Capitoline Hill (Piazza del Campidoglio),
Piazza del Parlimento (the Italian Parliament), and the Piazza Navona at night.
A striking characteristic of Rome is the difference between the main streets
and the side streets. The main streets are loud and very busy, with everyone
apparently in a rush to get somewhere. However, as soon as we turn onto a
side street, we feel like we're in a small alley. These "alleys"
are lined with all kinds of interesting shops, restaurants and gelaterias,
and they are great fun to explore. They're also a very easy place to get lost,
and unfortunately our map doesn't have many of them listed (or they're abbreviated
down to an unintelligible
level). We found that the best way to get around is to wander in a general
direction, and wait until we hit a major street. At first this was frustrating,
but now it's actually kind of fun.
Speaking of the alleys, they can be hazardous as well. The motorcycles (we
guess they call them scooters, but to us they're motorcycles) are everywhere,
and are particularly dangerous on the side streets. We don't remember it being
like this in 1982 - these guys really rule the road. We did a couple of non-scientific
studies today, and there are definitely more cycles than cars. They are ridden
by everyone - businessmen in suits, women in dresses and high heels, punks,
etc. It's funny to watch what happens at a red light. Literally every cycle
weaves its way to the front of the line - there are always a group of 5-10
cycles revving their engines in front while they're waiting for the light
to turn. The cycles also constantly cut off the pedestrians - much more so
than the cars that actually tend to at least yield to pedestrians in cross
We took it easy this morning, spending time catching up on our reading and
writing (Yesterday, I received an accusatory e-mail insinuating that I was
lazy for not updating the web site at night before we went to bed!). We set
out in search of pizza before a tour that we had scheduled for 2:00. We had
no problem devouring four pizzas, with David and Katie continually again asking:
"How do they make it like this?" The crust and sauce that is used
here is fantastic and unlike anything at home.
We walked to the Roman Colosseum for our scheduled tour. The guide was originally
an actor (struggling, we presume) from Connecticut, moved to Rome six years
ago and has no plans to return. With his theatrical background, he made the
tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum entertaining as well as educational.
Paula and I did not use a guide when we came here in 1982 (we don't think
we were able to afford it
), and believe that this may be why our memories
of the Colosseum and Forum are so sketchy. For the culmination of the tour,
our guide used his theatrical abilities to re-enact the speeches that Mark
Antony and Brutus made (from right where we were standing) to thousands of
Romans in the Forum following the assassination of Julius Caesar. He did a
great job of setting the stage, and it was fun to imagine what the Forum was
like when this really happened.
After the tour, we began to wander through the city, with the goal of finding
gelati at Gelateria Giolitti on our way up to the Spanish Steps. Along the
way, we made several stops at Piazza del Campidoglio (on Capitoline Hill and
the site of Rome's municipal government), Piazza del Parlimento (the Italian
Parliament), and Piazza Venezia. The gelati was a huge hit - they even had
"Menthe", our favorite flavor! The Spanish Steps were
packed with people, and we enjoyed sitting on the steps and watching the tourists
and locals who were gathered. After climbing to the top and taking in the
view of Rome (dominated by St. Peter's), we strolled down Via Condotti, Rome's
most upscale shopping street. It was fun to look in the windows at the Gucci,
Prada, Ferragamo, and Cartier stores. We decided not to buy any of the 1,000
Euro handbags or 450 Euro pairs of gloves - perhaps we'll change our minds
and go back tomorrow.
Finally, we returned to the Campo de Fiori for a fantastic dinner at La Carbonara.
Paula and I enjoyed a couple of new pasta dishes, but David and Katie simply
won't stray from the basic "Spaghetti Pomodoro" (basic tomato sauce).
They absolutely love the tomato sauce, and can't get enough. Katie keeps saying:
"This sauce is so simple, but so wonderful - you guys HAVE to learn how
to make this!"
dinner, we walked through Piazza Navona - filled with artists and street performers
- and made our way to the Gelataria della Palma (our second trip for gelati
today!) and its 100 flavors of gelati (David counted 102). David and Katie
insisted on having large dishes, and had no problem at all finishing it all.
Gelataria della Palma is a neat place, described accurately in our book as
looking somewhat like Willy Wonka's factory. In addition to ice cream, they
sell all kinds of unique candies, including colorful candy flowers. It was
interesting to see how packed all the restaurants were as we walked on the
streets at 10:00 PM. Romans generally don't eat until 8:30 at the earliest,
and usually much later.
We splurged on a taxi ride back to the hotel, satisfied that we had done
quite enough walking for the day. Tomorrow we plan to continue walking and
exploring Rome, and are planning to make a day trip on Sunday to Ostia Antica.
Distance Walked: 5.33 miles
The Olympics, Old and New
The modern Olympics have been a worldwide tradition since 1896. The Olympics
were originally created by the ancient Greeks around 776 B.C. Greek city-states
were called to gather at the ancient city of Olympia to pay tribute to Zeus.
There they competed in foot races, wrestling, boxing, etc. The modern Olympics
consist of the winter and summer games, which alternate every two years. The
location of the games is also changed each year. Although the modern Olympics
have many differences from the ancient games, they also have many similarities.
The ancient Greek Olympic Games were held in the summer every four years
in Olympia. This site was chosen because of the great sanctuary of Zeus, where
athletes paid their tributes before competing. The games were open to any
honorable man of Greek descent. The first day of the games was devoted to
festivity and sacrifices. The second day mainly consisted of foot races in
the stadium, an area enclosed by banks of earth where spectators could look
on. The next couple of days consisted of wrestling, boxing, and pancratium,
a combination of the two. The objective of wrestling was to throw your opponent
to the ground three times. Boxing became one of the fiercest sports in the
ancient Olympics. At first, gloves were made of soft leather to lighten the
blows, but later hard leather sometimes weighted with metal was used. That
has got to hurt! Horse racing was also a popular sport. Only the rich could
afford to take part in this sport because of the expensive horses (each participant
had their own horse). The next event was the pentathlon, a series of five
events. These events included wrestling, discus throwing, javelin hurling,
long jumping, and sprinting. In the discus event a plate of bronze was thrown.
In the javelin hurling event, competitors tried to throw a spear as far as
possible. The winners in each event won a reef of olive leaves, fame, and
living expenses for the rest of their lives. The ancient Olympics were at
their peak in the fifth and fourth century B.C., until the Roman Emperor Theodosius
I cancelled them. It was not until the late eighteen hundreds when they were
revived and created into the modern Olympics.
The first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896. Two years before,
a French educator named Pierre de Coubertin first introduced the idea to bring
back the Olympics in hope of promoting a more peaceful world. The first modern
Olympics consisted of only summer games and included 300 athletes from less
than 15 countries, competing in 43 events in 9 different sports. It is astonishing
to compare that to the 1996 Olympics, which included more than 10,000 athletes
from 190 countries, competing in 271 events in 29 different sports! The 2004
summer Olympic Games will be held right in Athens. We saw the construction
of the Olympic village and while we were there last week. We heard that they
are way behind in construction and working overtime to finish it in time for
next year! We also heard that they are 10,000 hotel rooms short, and are bringing
in cruise ships for people to stay on.
During the opening ceremonies, many traditions are done to recognize the
origin of the games. The torch is lit in Olympia, where the Olympics started,
and carried by runners to wherever the games are that year. It sometimes takes
months for them to achieve this task, but this year they are lucky. They only
have to run a couple days from Olympia to Athens! The torch is lit by magnified
sunlight in the ancient stadium. Another tradition is that the Greek team
always walks out first during the opening parade of countries. After the parade,
doves are released to symbolize world peace.
The Olympics have been an enjoyable tradition for the past 107 years, and
hopefully will promote world peace. It has been fun learning and researching
about the Olympic Games. It will be cool seeing the Games returning to Greece
where they originated in 776 B.C.