Roma! Roma! Roma!

Well, two days in Roma and I’m really tired! I have walked to the major sites and some of the minor ones. Each walk anywhere risks my life, as cars are ever ready to run you down even in the crosswalk. You have to show big balls and just push your way through. Peds are supposed to have the right of way, so when you move out into the road, you just have to commit. Hold your breath and hope to hell you don’t get run over.

I noticed a lot of priests running around today and my travel companion Holly dryly remarked, “I think that’s in case you get hit in traffic.” Priests on call to read you your last rites should you get hit… I feel safe now. Unless there are some priests driving on these streets.

If heaven is eternal cycling and wine for me, then hell is forever crossing the streets of Rome.

Enough about that.

The Colleseum was awe-inspiring, even with the mobs of people. Though, we went while it was raining which provided gloomy pictures but pretty open access to all of the views we desired. I did get to touch it, as I always dreamed. This is the oldest structure made by man I have ever touched (and probably will ever touch as I think the Middle East will never be an option for me to visit in my life time… and if it is, there may be nothing left…)

Even better than the Colleseum, almost, was the Forum. This was the center of political life for Rome in the old days of the empire. And, actually, before Rome was an empire and an actual republic before Julius Caesar took it over. I took pictures of everything. Weird as I am, I was most fascinated by the House of the Vestal Virgins. A Vestal Virgin was apparently a high status position women were selected for at the age of 10. They had to commit to 30 years of virginhood and, if they served these well, they were permitted to marry afterwards. At the age of 40. When life probably only went to 50. But at least they created a statue of you and displayed it in the garden of the House of Vestal Virgins.

Of course, if you broke your vow (which I suspect may have sometimes occurred unfairly by a man in heat), you were beaten brutally and publically killed in the streets of Rome for all to see. Gotta love the ole Roman flair for justice and mercy.

But it was a high status position for women, or so my tour book claimed and I’d like to do more research on it. I’m getting the ideas for a fictional historical based story right now and I’ve suddenly got a thirst for knowledge about ancient Roman civilization. I’ve always been fascinated by this period in time, but only from what I remembered from World History class in school. So, I need to refill those gaps. (If you know of any great — not overly dry — books on this topic, please leave me suggestions.)

The Forum also has the old Senate building, the Temple of Saturn (darn, those pagans!), and a lot of other interesting old ruins. The entire city of Rome is like one big archaelogical dig.

The Pantheon was excellent as well. Of course, it’s been converted to a church of somekind (Catholic?). I find it a little odd when they convert an old place of pagan worship into a place for modern religion… Isnt that kind of sacrilege on some level? I don’t know. It leaves me to ponder what it is about that location that makes one want to worship at it… to whatever your chosen diety. Or, I guess it just goes along with the idea that when Christianity came to Rome, it literally replaced the pagan religions with its own, which included using its current houses of worship so that people would accept the new religion.

A lady at the Forum was giving a whole talk about this to a tour group, about how Christian holidays and traditions were superimposed over pagan holidays. It was very interesting. But more on that topic when I have more time and I’m not paying for my internet.

What is it about Rome that makes you ponder religion and the human condition? Well, it’s going to continue for me as the next stop tomorrow is THE VATICAN.

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