10/8/08 – 4pm
Perhaps the first thing to note today is that the world has not ended (*touches wood*). The Swiss are apparently recreating the Big Bang with a particle accelerator, which apparently carries with it the tiny chance that a black hole could be created and destroy the world. It’s been the topic of much discussion today, but happily we are all still here so far.
The day started early, leaving the BSR at 7.45am in order to get down the Via Appia to see the tomb of Caecilia Metella and the Circus of Maxentius in time to get to another appointment for 11am. We stopped for croissants on the way, and it soon become another scorching day as we made our way down the Via Appia. The tomb of Caecilia Metella was interesting: a huge aristocratic tomb, which I had studied during my first year at university, subsequently used as a fortress. The Circus of Maxentius, a short walk down the road, was even more interesting, and not merely for the obscene numbers of ant colonies and ‘ant motorways’ weaving their way all over the field. Quite a lot remained of
the structures of the Circus, far more so than in the more famous Circus Maximus in the centre of Rome, and there was some masonry along the side which was made from concrete and broken bits of amphora.
After that, we had to get to this random park where we had an appointment to see the Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas, which isn’t open to the public and turned out to be the highlight of the trip so far. It’s a burial chamber where people put cremated remains on niches in the walls, and these were all still in situ along with loads of amazing frescoes in a truly remarkable state of
Having had a bite to eat, we headed back towards the city centre, where we stopped for a slightly longer lunch break in which we were informed that we’d be getting lunch in a restaurant when we go to Tivoli on Friday – yay! This will make a pleasant change from the chewy panini supplied by the BSR as packed lunches.
After lunch we headed for the nearest tram stop and got to the Porta Maggiore – the remains of an aqueduct, and the famous Tomb of Eurysaces the baker, the latter of which I was immensely excited about seeing in real life. A number of us illegally hopped over the wall to get a closer look at it, and I got an excellent picture of it taken through one of the
arches of the aqueduct. It’s a very curious monument and I could write at some length on what it tells us about the ancient world, but I won’t bore you! Perhaps I’ll write about it in another blog post.
From there, we went to an awesome ice cream parlour called Palazzo del Freddo, which was established in 1880 and as such is the oldest in Rome. I had banana and white chocolate scoops topped with chantilly – delicious. We sat and ate them in air-conditioned bliss.
On the way back we saw a few scattered Roman remains but the best thing was ending up on the other side of the Forum of Augustus, right next to some of the columns of the Temple of Mars Ultor. Awesome view to end the day! We then got the bus back to the BSR and I’m knackered now so going to have a kip.