Thursday, June 23, 2011
We had a grand time exploring the antiquities in Rome, and what an incredible city it is! The first morning as we headed down to the ancient part of the city, walking along a traffic congested street, we found an entire city block of Roman columns and excavations. Apparently a house was demolished inthe 1920s and they discovered the tops of the columns--and so began yet another archeological excavation. Everywhere we looked in the city there were centuries-old buildings contrasted with the motorbikes and cars and people of this century. We explored the Roman forum early in the morning and braved the crowds at the colossal colesseum, then toured the Palatine hill, home to Roman villas including one where Nero grew up. Finally our walking tour ended at the lovely Pantheon, the only intact Roman temple left. The next day we took the train south to Ostia Antica, the site of ancient Rome's harbour. This was a Roman city for 600 years, home to up to 70,000 people until the River Tiber changed course and it was abandoned. We spent four hours walking through the peaceful ruins and imagining life in those days. It's amazing what has remained-- mosaic sidewalks showing what the merchants supplied, a bank of marble public toilets, and a cafe with serving bar and wall frescoes of the food that could be ordered. Now we are stayng at a 400 year old farmhouse B&B near Lucca, having taken the train to Pisa, rented a car and sloped by the leaning tower. This farm stay is lovely. We had an amazing homemade breakfast today with Caterina's homemade coffee cake and produce from the farm. These hardworking people make their own wine and olive oil as well as grow vegetables. It is a piece of heaven here.