Morning – Guided tour of the Flavian Amphitheater (aka the Colosseum), the Roman Forum and Capitoline Hill.
Only about 1/3rd of the Colosseum still stands; it was originally covered in marble (which was removed for use in newer buildings or baked to make lime for concrete):
Here’s what’s left of the original public toilets in the Colosseum:
“Backstage” area (really under-stage area), where animals and combatants were staged before being lifted up to the stage on one of 80 different rope & pulley elevators:
After touring the Colosseum, we walked through the Roman Forum, including a section of one of the original Roman roads:
Our guide described Rome as a lasagna, with layers built upon layers. This was originally the Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina (built in the 2nd century AD). In 1550, the building was re-purposed as a church, and the green door (behind the column) was installed at what, by then, was street level.
After the tour ended, we hiked to the Pantheon, built around 120 AD by Emperor Hadrian, to honor all gods:
The dome was the largest made until the Renaissance, and is made of concrete with a coffered ceiling to reduce the weight:
Light comes in through the open oculus at the top of the dome, and illuminates the beautiful marble and sculptures:
This is the sculpture that Rafael commissioned for his tomb before he died at age 37; his tomb is just below the Madonna and Child:
As we were debating where to eat after leaving the Pantheon, the skies opened up with a heavy shower, so we ended up eating a sidewalk cafe right in front of the Pantheon. This was our view for lunch: