10 Sep 2004 - Rome, Italy
My second time in Rome and all without throwing a coin into the Trevi fountain; that puts paid to that myth. Returning was like coming back to visit an old friend. The first time I was here I totally immersed myself in the city and its history so seeing it again was like I had never been away.
Not true though. In a city as big as this and with a history going back 2000 years there is always something new to find out even about monuments that have already been seen. The sense of awe I felt about seeing and touching the structures that were once the centre of the power of Rome; that were part of the everyday day surroundings of powerful men whose actions have echoed through the centuries; men like Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony; the old Republic; these feelings still came back.
With so much ancient history still to see, two days in Rome isn't enough because typically this only gives time to see the ancient, the Vatican and a smattering of Renaissance era buildings. And when I say 'see the ancient', this tends to mean see what is easily accessible and most monument dense as in the old heart of the eternal city. So much more lies outside of the centre.
Rome - The Colosseum
Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre after the family name of Vespasian, it was inaugurated by his son Titus in 80 AD. It could seat 50k spectators and bloody combat between men, beasts and executions were performed for their pleasure.
Rome - The Forum
The forum existed almost intact up to 1503 when the Pope pillaged the area for building materials to rebuild Rome. Ancient marbles were ground up to make concrete. If only the buildings were left we might be able to have an even better image how ancient Rome looked.
Rome - Temple of Julius Caesar
Erected by Augustus in 29 BC on the site where Caesar's body was burned and Mark Anthony read his famous speech. Some people actually still leave flowers here in his memory.
Rome - House of the Vestal Virgins
Vesta was the goddess of the hearth and her worship was overseen by 6 priestesses. Chosen in childhood between the ages of 6 and 10, they had to serve as virgins for at least 30 years.
They lived privileged lives but if they broke their vows they would be punished by being buried alive as the blood of a vestal could never be spilled.
Rome - The Arch of Septimius Severus towards the forum
The forum was the hub of civic life and became occupied with religious, political, commercial and commemorative buildings.
For a 1000 years the forum remained the focus of civic life but in the middle ages it was forgotten and reduced to a meadow.
Rome - Close up of the Arch of Septimius Severus
Some of the fine sculptures inside the arch depict the victory over the Parthians. Carts filled with booty, soldiers and prisoners are all depicted.
Rome - Arch of Septimius Severus
Erected in 203 AD to commemorate the victories of Septimius Severus against the Parthians in the East. This is at the point where great generals ended their triumphal processions.
The arch is sheathed in marble and originally had bronze sculptures on top.
Rome - Arch of Constantine with Colosseum behind
A close up of the Arch of Constantine showing some of the fine detail. Constantine goes down as one of the greatest emperors and brought Christianity to the empire.
The circular carving dates from Constantine's day but others on the front and rear date from the reigns of Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius - all them very capable emperors.
Rome - Trevi fountain
This is one of Rome's most famous monuments. Completely dominating the small piazza, it was designed in 1732. Its water is supplied by one of the city's earliest aqueducts.
Throw a coin into the water over you shoulder while facing away to ensure you return to Rome. Toss a second and you will marry an Italian. Throw a third and you will have donated to charity.
Rome - Pallazo Venezia
A renaissance era monument build partly with materials quarried from the Colosseum. Mussolini used it as his official residence and made some of his famous speeches from the balcony.
This often overlooked building is actually holds Byzantine and Renaissance paintings.