Sunday, February 11, 2007

Italia Rome V

Last post on Rome… (I know my dear readers, yes both of you, want me to end this Rome thing which has stretched a bit too much I guess)

From Roman Forum moved onto The Pantheon, which is arguably the best preserved ancient building in Rome, coz of its constant use thru the ages. Standing in front of this structure I felt both intimidated and overhwelmed. Due to the size, structure, symmetry and the fact that something made 2000 yrs ago stood so marvellously, withstanding the test of time.

The original Pantheon was built in 27 BC-25 BC by Caesar Augustus’ general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa to to commemorate the Victory of Actium over Antony and Cleopatra. His name is inscribed on the portico of the building. M·AGRIPPA·L·F·COS·TERTIUM·FECIT - Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, during his third consulate, built this. Now as Julius Caesar lends his name to the Cesarean section, Agrippa lends his name to Agrippated Birth - he was born feet first.

The Pantheon was intended as a temple to all the Gods. During its two centuries as a functioning temple, statues of gods filled the niches, animals were sacrificed and burned in the center; the smoke escaped through the only means of light, the Oculus. Now I overheard some guide telling his troupe that when it rains no water enters the Pantheon via the Oculus which has a 27 feet diameter. One of those things to which I would have to “see it to believe it”. Sadly it didn’t rain that day & I cant give a word on that.
After Christianity replaced paganism in Rome, the Pantheon was abandoned for a time until the Byzantine emperor Phocas gave it to Pope Boniface IV. In 609 AD, the Pantheon was consecrated as a Christian church.The main altar of the church is opposite the entrance, and the original 7th-century icon of the Madonna and Child can be seen above it. The interior is very rich and most statues inside are in pretty good shape. In the piazza outside the Pantheon is a lovely fountain topped by an ancient Egyptian obelisk.
Outside almost all tourist attraction in Rome, you will find people dressed as Galdiators ready to pose with you for a small fee. Do it by all means if u r interested. The light was dwindling by the time we left the pantheon and I had decided earlier that I would visit the Colosseum at night when it would be all lighted and beautiful. Some of the people were not so excited by the idea and so me n S went to the Colosseum. Caught a bus and realised only after boarding the bus that tickets were not sold in the bus. You had to buy them before boarding. Travelling without ticket in Rome public transport was certainly not on my list of must-dos, but now that it happened m glad :P

Travelling halfway across the city to visit the Colosseum at night was worth evry nickle i spent. Actually I didnt spend any. Doesn't it look awesome?
The other set of people who headed back to the hotel experienced an unsucessful attempt of pickpocketing on them. Rome like any other city has its share of crime. As a traveller who’s there for a small time, one should be careful and try not to get involved in any unpleasant incident. A theft, fight or loss of belonging is not why one would like to remember Rome.
Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II

Throughout Rome you will see fountains or water sprouting from the mouth of a lion/elephant kinda thing. More often than not the water is safe to drink, but don’t take chances. Drink it only if u see locals drinking it. Another thing which is quite common is that every now and then you will run into something which is historical. There's history in every nook n corner of this city. One cannot possibly know about everything but I try to capture the image n go back n read about it later.

The main mode of travel in Rome was walking. Believe me, this is the best way to explore. Walking thru the roads n streets, one notices not only the shops, buildings, houses from much closer quarters but also the people going/returning from work, people idling on the sidewalks, street vendors, the billboards, the signs and many such things.

The number of designer shops per square kilometer must be the highest in Rome. Almost all big names in fashion seem to be present here. Most of them are from here. And you will also find fakes being sold at every street. An authentic looking designer Gucci/Fendi/Prada handbag for as less as €25. €15 if u bargain a bit. Though my fav shops were the number of pizza outlets in the city. Almost every second street will have one. While covering the city I would often hop into one of these and come out with a slice of pizza. In most such shops they sell pizza by the weight of the slice you want. And it comes out to something between €2 - €4. Allows you to sample a lot. There’s a huge difference in the way pizza is eaten elsewhere n Italy. Here most of the pizzas are veg, with generous toppings made of all kinds of vegetables and the freshest ingredients. I did not find a single place that had chicken pizza but the ham more than made up for it. *slurp*

They say there’s a city named Rome on every continent (I find it hard to believe..errr Antarctica??). I bet none of them is like this. 2 days in Rome slipped right past me and it was time to move on to the next destination.
Another dream come true!!


Sakshi said...

Me First.
Heck I take Silver and the bronze too :)

I loved the night time pics. Awesome. Isnt it funny how a temple dedicated to all the ancient Gods became dedicated to one?
Sigh.. paganism is not worshiped as it was.
The Pizza's almost made me book my trip there. One of these days..
Now get back to the next destiantion..

Chitrangada said...

good post with smilies :)

n yesh pic mast thi ..n m waiting for another blog ..a dream come true :)

arpana said...

dont u think its way past time u updated this space?

Saakshi O. Juneja said...

First time here and I have to quite impressive travel takes...

Cool stuff.