These past two weeks were full of incredible opportunities to visit important Romans sites, some of them being inaccessible to the general public. One of my favorite trips was to the Colosseum, or the Flavian Amphitheater, as it was called by the Romans. This huge structure was used for, among other things, gladiatorial games, public executions, and animal hunts. The students in my program had the exciting opportunity to visit the basement of the Colosseum, unavailable to the general public, in order to see how the Romans lifted animals, combatants, and faux scenery from beneath the arena floor through wooden trapdoors. We also had access to the third level of the Colosseum, which also has restricted access, in order to see the view of the arena from the seating areas of the plebians, slaves, and women. I noticed that although these groups of people were underprivileged in their view of the games and hunts, that they would nevertheless have a much better view of the city outside of the Colosseum and especially of the Forum Romanum. We also visited the other imperial fora (those of Trajan and Nerva) and saw the magnificent Column of Trajan, which depicts his Dacian campaign spiraling from its base to its top. Some other sites that we saw were Domitian’s Palace on the Palatine, the Arch of Titus, Trajan’s Market, and the Ludus Magnus, a gladiatorial training school.
Last weekend I went to another football match. This time, Roma faced its rival, Lazio, the other team based in Rome. One might compare their rivalry to the Yankees and Mets, but this rivalry is on a much larger scale. Games between the teams are known for hooliganism and violence. Even though Roma was officially the away team in this match, my peers and I were dressed in Roma gear and stood in the Roma section of the stadium. The game was exciting, with Roma scoring two goals on penalty kicks to take the win 2-0. I’ve never seen sports fans become as crazy as they were when Roma scored its two goals. Throughout the game, fans threw illegal firecrackers onto the field. The experience was quite rambunctious. Also, in a quite memorable maneuver, nine planes flew overhead trailing colored smoke, leaving the image of Italy’s flag.
Tomorrow morning I leave for Campania in southern Italy. My program has a week-long trip scheduled that is much like the Sicily trip from before. I hope to have exciting things to tell upon my return!