Friday, September 28, 2012

Circo Massimo, Le Terme di Caracalla, e La Bocca della Verità

After my latest trip on Wednesday, I'm pleased to say that I'm already reaching the end of my "Essential Roman Sites" list. Rome is absolutely HUGE, so I had to make a game plan in order to tackle this beast of a city. Never been one to procrastinate, even when it comes to travel. I'm looking forward to spending the final weeks here shopping, browsing museums, and revisiting favorite areas in a more leisurely, less stressful fashion.

Directly across the street from the metro stop, I found Circo Massimo (Great/Large Circus) waiting for me. This was formerly a massive stadium (the first in the Roman Empire too!), which showcased Roman chariot races and religious festivals. Very few architectural ruins remain now--only the brick that you can see in the far left corner of the green--but at it's peak, the arena could hold as many as 150,000 spectators (about three times that of the Colosseum).

Next stop was Le Terme di Caracalla. The baths of Caracalla were built under Emperor Caracalla between 212 and 216 AD. Originally exclusive locations for important Roman leaders and the very wealthy, these particular baths are significant since they were free and open to the public. As I wandered the campus, I was struck again by the enormity of the structures...and these were just the ruins. Suddenly, I felt very small, in every sense of the word.

What did you do at work today? 

incredible mosaic floor

just some 2,000-year-old artwork 

This is where the pool used to be--can you see the steps that still remain in the far left corner?

Normal? Man walking to work, motor traffic, and ruins on Palatine Hill...all on the same street.

Piazza della Bocca della Verità

Writing on the wall...waiting in line to see La Bocca della Verità (mouth of truth) in the portico of La Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosedin. There's little certainty about the sculpture's history, but it is thought to have belonged to part of a Roman fountain or manhole during the 1st century AD, representing an unknown god. La Bocca is popular today among tourists and Romans alike, which was made clear by the line I discovered wrapping the church entrance. Medieval legend has it that if one tells a lie with his/her hand inside the mouth, it will be bitten off. Not so surprisingly, I managed to leave with wrist, palm, and all five fingers still intact. I couldn't lie if I wanted to.

 And now for the embarrassing touristy shots with La Bocca della Verita. OK fine, really not embarrassed I just wanted to sound hipster.

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