Sunday, December 26, 2010
Christmas in Rome
While in Rome, we decided to tour the Colloseum. This was a three hour tour that consisted of the tour of the Colloseum, Palentine Hill, and the Trajan Markets. The Colloseum is a sight to behold. It looks so much bigger in person. While in there, we could see the four levels of seating that could house 70,000 inhabitants. These are given out by class status. For the real wealthy, they have the first level where the poor have the fourth level and so on. Although they are seated by class, the one thing that brings these groups together was the shared experience of watching the Gladiators fight each other as well as imported animals from Asia and Africa.
These animals ranged from crocodiles, bears, panthers, and tigers. The set was elaborately put together to create a real natural environment which included bushes, trees, and man-made ponds. The Gladiators themselves were slaves. They worked hard to train for these matches at the Colloseum, partly because if they won and didn't die, they were given their freedom.
Freedom and a substantial amount of money really must have drove their determination. The animals were not fed for the week before the fight to make them more predatory. The animals would then appear out of nowhere from the trapdoors below. They have nets that protect the spectators,but if this doesn't seem to hold, they have Roman soldiers stationed throughout that are ready to shoot the animal. Although this was considered a sport and form of entertainment, both the Gladiator and the animal were used and mistreated. Human Rights Activists and Animal Rights Activists would be in an uproar if this happened today.
Another interesting fact was the explanation of the toilets. The toilets were nothing but cement squares with another square size area carved out of it. The idea of every person relieving themselves essentially into the walking areas seems unsanitary and gross.
Geno seemed to enjoy this tour a lot and was able to keep up throughout the three hour tour with no problems at all. Our group of ten people in the tour really got to know each other....well they all really got to know Geno. Geno always seems shy at first, but when he warms up, his personality shines. In fact one lady asked if she could take his picture. Clearly he was absorbing all of this information, because afterwards he would not stop talking about how they fight monsters at the Colloseum.
We then spent limited time shopping and eating gelato and Roman cuisine. The waiters always seemed to ask Geno if he wanted some whiskey, and Geno would smile and say, "Just apple juice." I believe this is a memory he will remember always.