Friday, August 3, 2012

Rome Day Two: The Adventure Continues

Before I dive into this post, I want to wish a very happy 28th birthday to my beautiful and sweet daughter, Brittany! We had a fun day planned, including pedicures with Emma and a Red Sox game at Fenway Park tonight. But my grumpy mouth is killing me, so I can't partake in the fun. I am sooooooooooooo bummed. Sigh. Boo hoo. Pathetic little old me! (Now would be an okay time for you to feel sorry for me. I am missing a pedicure and a Sox game with my girls~do you have any idea how utterly tragic this is??? LOL) I love you, precious daughter of mine!

Okey dokey, back to Rome. After enjoying a late lunch next to the Colosseum, we headed towards our apartment. Along the way, we walked past the Forum of Caesar. Though Julius Caesar spent a fortune building this in honor of himself, it wasn't nearly as large or as impressive as the Forum (also known as the Roman Forum).
See the white building in the upper right corner of this photo?
It's the right end of this building, the Victor Emmanuel Monument, aka Il Vittoriano, which was built in the late 1800s-early 1900s.Victor Emmanuel II was the first king of unified Italy. This monument also houses the museum of the Risorgimento (also known as The Resurgence). This was basically a political and social movement which eventually led to Italy's unification. (That was the shortest possible lesson on Roman history, haha). This building is often referred to as The Wedding Cake because of its tiered structure.
Victor Emmanuel II is memorialized in this very large bronze statue. 
This was taken at the top of the monument stairs, looking out towards the city.
This site is also home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and its eternal flame. According to Wikipedia, "The body of the unknown soldier was chosen on 26 October 1921 from among 11 unknown remains by Maria Bergamas, a woman from Gradisca d'lsonzo whose only child was killed during World War I. Her son's body was never recovered." I find that interesting.
The Santa Maria in Aracoeli (the brick building) is situated just around the corner from the Il Vittoriano. We didn't get to go inside, so I don't know much about it other than what I read in DK Eyewitness Tavel: Rome on page 69. Here are a few interesting facts: "Dating from at least the 6th century, the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, or St. Mary of the Altar in the sky, stands on the northern summit of the Capitoline, on the site of the ancient temple to Juno... The church of the Roman senators and people, Santa Maria in Aracoeli has been used to celebrate many triumphs over adversity... The church is most famous, however, for an icon with apparently miraculous powers, the Santo Bambino, a 15th-century olive-wood figure of the Christ Child which was carved out of a tree from the garden of Gethsemane. Its powers are said to include resurrecting the dead, and it is sometimes summoned to the bedsides of the gravely ill. The original figure was stolen in 1994 but has been replaced by a replica." Interesting, huh?
Next to the Santa Maria in Aracoeli stand the Cordonata (the widening ramp) and the Roman Insula which was built circa AD 100 and originally served as tenement housing. The residents of the Roman Insula apartments are said to have been held captive by both bad landlords and unfit living conditions which included very small spaces, no water, and glassless windows. The upper levels had neither latrines nor any means of providing heat. Most of this building became buried after Rome fell. It was later excavated sometime during the 11th century and became part of a church.
The Palazzo Senatorio currently houses the Roman mayoral offices. As its name suggests, it was originally occupied by the Roman Senate.
Okay, that was a long day of sightseeing: the Forum, the Colosseum, the Forum of Caesar, the Victor Emmanuel Monument and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Santa Maria in Aracoeli, the Cordonata and the Roman Insula, and the Palazzo Senatorio. We walked about 6 miles that day! Our last stop was at a restaurant near our apartment. Miss Emma, who had been an awesome tourist all day long, had trouble staying awake as we waited for dinner. 
Buona notte (good night in Italian)!

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