How important is it to preserve our history? It is obvious that different cultures at different time periods have answered this question differently. Today was our main day of touring around Rome. We saw all of the sights of ancient Rome, including the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and Circus Maximus. Throughout the viewing of these buildings a common theme showed up. Apparently, between the mid 4th Century (when Rome converted to Catholicism), and around 1800, these historic buildings were not only left to rust, but often their metal was raided for the purpose of making weaponry, or to build the Saint Peter’s Basilica.
A Spanish-speaking tour guide engaged her students in a discussion before viewing the Roman Forum. I listened in on it, as we were waiting for our English language tour to begin. She discussed with her students about how Rome has two histories; a pagan one and a catholic one, each with their own point of view. The Catholics viewed much of the pagan history with shame, as evidenced by the abandonment of the Colosseum and it’s inhumane fight to the death Gladiator games. This is probably why they so readily let these buildings get destroyed.
The one ancient building preserved through the ages is a building called the Pantheon, which was built in the year 120 AD. This building was preserved because it was converted into a church to serve a Catholic purpose during the 8th Century. It is Rome’s oldest still in use building. After viewing the Ancient Roman buildings, we went to this building. After that, we decided to just “Roam around Rome”. We went over the Tiber River on the cheesiest bridge we had ever seen, the San Angelo Bridge. Then, we literally stumbled on the Vatican. Previously, we had absolutely no plans to visit this place, but since we were like right there, we went to look at it. While there, I actually wondered whether nearby Catholics went to the Vatican on a weekly basis for mass, the same way any other Catholic would go to their nearby church, but the nearest one just happens to be the one the Pope speaks at. That would be crazy. Finally, we ate at Campo di Fiori, a really nice area, with somewhat of a nightlife feel. But, today overall was a tiring day.
Today was another first for me. I rode Rome’s subway system. It was the first time I had ever ridden a train outside the United States. The train cars themselves looked quite a bit like the ones in New York, but the system overall reminded me much more of DC’s (multiple levels of Subway, and the design of the train stations and entrances). Oh, and Piazza de Navona was also kind of cheesy.