Our visit to the beach just 20 km from our B&B last night was far to brief and we decided to return in the morning. Mary had suggested we try to find a parking spot close to a small, well marked path to the beach. If we were in sight of the path, we could give the “north African gentleman” a few Euro to keep an eye on our vehicle. We had not experienced any difficulties with thefts from our vehicle so far on our trip, but thought this was no time to challenge that record. As we approached the beach we realized that the public holiday had driven the locals to the beach to enjoy the 29 – 31 C temperatures next to the water. Our good fortune found us a parking spot directly across from the gentleman and we gave him a few coins and headed to the beach. It was busy, but it wasn’t difficult to find an area to spread our towels and a few small chairs we borrowed from Mary. Jessica and Andrew disappeared into the waves and left the adults to alternately watch over the passports etc. Once again, the water was the perfect temperature for spending extended periods jumping in and body surfing on the waves.Ironically, despite the beach being covered in bathing suits, there was a constant parade of immigrants from warmer climates, clothed literally from head to toe, selling towels, trinkets, etc. You can’t imagine the climate they are accustomed to that would have them wearing anything but shorts and a T-shirt.
Once in Rome we parked back along the Tiber again and used our tour bus pass to take us to the ancient heart of Rome.
We started at the Palatine Hill that overlooked the Circus Maximus. Following the guide book, we walked through the remains of the emperor’s palaces. With a little bit of imagination you can picture lavish, marble lined rooms scattered with fountains and reflecting pools. As you look at the foundations for some of the larger rooms you remember the movies such as Ben Hurr where Hollywood portrayed the typical life in these palaces.
The museum also provides a glimpse into the early settlements that inhabited the Palatine Hill. It was here that Jeff discovered that the time spent at the beach in the morning had turned his front into another source of “global warming”. As he lifted his shirt to show Deana a few feet away, Jessica (some 30 feet away) let out a shriek at the ruby red site. (Fortunately a thick layer of Vitamin E cream before bed eliminated any pain and prevented significant peeling).
From the Palatine Hill it’s a short walk past the Arch of Constantine to the Colosseum.
Built over 2000 years ago it is amazing to walk through this structure and imagine it filled with 50,000 people cheering on the gladiator contests that took place here. One guide book pointed out that a canvas awning was pulled across the upper walls of the Colosseum to produce the “first domed stadium”. Without the floor, it is possible to see the underground passages that held the caged animals and criminals that were pitted against the gladiators in a battle to the death. They even had elevators to lift the animals to the arena floor.
From the Colosseum we entered the Roman Forum and walked along the cobblestones of the Via Sacre through the center of ancient Rome.
Once again you looked around at the structures that remain and marvelled at the architectural and engineering skills of the Romans.