Rome is famed for its grandeur: fantastic ruins detailing centuries of a once-great Empire. The walls of Rome enclose renowned monuments such as the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, the Roman Forum, others fantastic though unknown, and still more buried beneath the ground.
Despite the scale of these structures, Rome is small. These grand testaments of Rome’s strength were built within walking-distance of one another, making them accessible during an antique age.
Even today, these major sites might be all visited in a single day. Although all roads may lead to Rome, finding signs for Roman roads is a challenge. Instead, all you need to do is follow the veritable yellow brick road of Rome: McDonald’s signs. There is a McDonald’s near every major site, these worthy guides leading you from one McDonald’s to the next.
Dropped off by the metro at the Spanish Steps, my sister and I traveled to the Trevi Fountain, to the Pantheon, to the Campodoglio (a good view of the Roman Forum), and onward to the Coliseum. The latter was my favorite.
The most acclaimed feature of Rome, the Coliseum (originally Ampiteatro Flavio) is distinguished from the others by its largeness, its ruin, and its room for imagination. Active for almost 500 years, the Coliseum was once paved with marble and encircled by tiers of seats enough for 70,000 people. Once it fell into disuse, it was partially destroyed by earthquakes. However, most damage was done by the Church, who stripped it of its marble and its walls to build new churches.
What intrigues me is imagining what a beauty it once was. Yet, this splendor was built on the backs of human dignity. It was paid for by patrons and designed by great artists; these the world still has. But it was built by slaves. It was a place where slaves fought for freedom or fought to die. It seems more of a gravestone than a monument of glory. It is a gravestone well-remembered.
Thus ended our seize of Rome in a day.
However, the Rome laid out here is only a piece of this city. The city is dotted with antique churches, art, and museums and flooded with shops of fashion, sweets, and soccer. It has broken through its own walls into the hills beyond. It is filled with people from every part of the world, not only tourists but a new generation of Romans. The stereotyped and celebrated Rome might be done in a day, but Rome as it is now is too large and impossible to grasp.