29.02.2008 - 03.03.2008 20 °C
I have now arrived and spent some time searching Roma. Where I am staying is right near the main train station and so my first impression of the city was quite negative. But after walking around for a few days I think I have discovered some of the beauty of the city. It is so different from Australian cities in that there are ancient ruins and building scattered throughout the city, so there will be a patch of grass with some ruins on it, surrounded by busy streets and normal city life, so that is really weird. Also there are nuns and priests eveywhere, and I am forever passing churches...beautifully decorated and old churchs.
My favourite place was the Vatican city. The Sisteine Chaple and all the decorated rooms leading up to it had some famous and spectaculour paintings. *The School of Athens*, with Plato and his student Aristotle discussing their philosophies was my favourite painting, but also the chaple itself is covered with Michaelangelos ceiling of dipictions from the bible (ie. Adam and Eve being tempted by a human-snake, and the famous picture of God creating man and the hand of god is just touching the mans hand). Then there is Michaelangelos *The final judgement*, behind the altar, where Jesus is in the middle and those to his left are going to hell, those on his right are going to heaven. Many of the artists put themselves in the paintings also, and MA put himself in as a lifeless skin, being held by a saint, just off the centre of the painting...interesting, ah??
The collosseum was fantastic but blacker than I imagined it (due to pollution). It was awesome to stand inside and imagine the gladiators fighting eachother or animals.. Other attractions have been fountains, churches and massive buildings of different time periods, one other one that I really liked was the Pantheon, built by the Roman about 100AD, and it is still the largest stone dome in Europe, it was spectacular.
I also spent a day going to the Catacombs which are burial sites for the first Christians. From what I understand, the first Christians had to hide their religion, because the Roman Empire was in power. It was in 3rd century AD that Christianity was spreading and taking over and that Constantine *the first Roman Empirer* took over. It was all over for the Roman empire in 476AD. So their are 60 catacombs under Rome, as well as others around Europe, and they were built by digging out passages underground into soft volcanic rock. This rock hardens when exposed to the air. This catacomb had 4 levels and each one had hundreds of tombs. Before this, people used to cremate their dead, but since Jesus had risen, they thought they should bury, just in case someone else might rise...hahaha. Inside the labarynth of tunnels, there were also well preserved frescoes and paintings and the symbols of christianity. On display there were two bodies dating back to 300AD, mostly they just looked like dust but you could see some bone and hair remnants as well. Apparently most of the remains of the bodies were still in the tombs but we could not see them.
Anyway, that was Roma...now Im off to Napoli for some more histoy and some pizza.