International travel

Roman Colosseum

A Spectator’s Visit to the Roman Colosseum

After refreshing sleep and breakfast, on our second day we set out to explore Rome. And what could be more “Roman” that a visit to the Colosseum?

View of the Colosseum in Rome, taken from the pedestrian sidewalk with tourists in the foreground walking toward it.

According to travel guide Let’s Go Italy (2009 edition):

“The Colosseum – a hollowed-out ghost of Travertine marble that once held more than 50,000 bloodthirsty spectators and now dwarfs every other ruin in Rome – stands as an enduring symbol of the Eternal City.”

From my travel journal:

“. . . we get our first view of the ruins of the Forum, and make our way to the Colosseum. Centurions approach us for photo opportunities, and we finally succumb. (Jen is moderately amused by their attention.)”

Two men, dressed as Roman centurians, posing with smiling young woman in front of Roman Colosseum.

“Then we join an English-speaking Italian and his tour through the Colosseum. Although he is not a great tour guide, it was an interesting and informative entrance / visit to the Colosseum. “

Image of interior walls of the Roman Colosseum.

“We are told that the centurions – approximately 55,000 in number – were generally slaves, aged 19-24, who chose to be centurions so they could earn their freedom.”

“Some criteria: They must be larger than the average Roman (who were slight and short, approximately 5 feet tall) and they had to successfully fight 7 times to earn their freedom. (“Unsuccessful” equals death.)”

View of the interior walls and labyrinth-like floors of the Roman Colosseum.

Other interesting notes:

  • There were approximately 775,000 – 800,000 people killed in the Colosseum.
  • Because it’s a very hot structure, it was covered with a large white linen to keep it cool, and the linen was removed by sailors when it was time for the games / fights.
  • People would bring their children to see the events (it must have been very gory).
  • The wealthy people would attend the first event, then take their chariots home for a few hours before returning for the afternoon event.

Neglect, Ruin, and Rebuilding

By the 6th century A.D. not only had public taste in entertainment changed, but the structural integrity of the Colosseum had been damaged by earthquakes and other natural phenomenon.

For the next few centuries, it was abandoned and used as a quarry for other buildings including the cathedral of St. Peter, the nearby Palazzo Venezia (also known as the “Wedding Cake”) and for defense fortifications along the Tiber River. (See article.)

Interior walls of the Roman Colosseum, showing structural damage and missing bricks.

By the 20th century, nearly two-thirds of the original Colosseum, including all of the arena’s marble seats and its decorative elements, had been destroyed by weather and natural disasters, as well as neglect and vandalism.

Restoration efforts began in the 1990’s.  In 2007 the Colosseum was voted to be one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

And in 2018 (according to Wikipedia) the Colosseum was the most popular tourist attraction in the world with 7.4 million visitors.

Two female tourists standing close together, with interior of Roman Colosseum in background.

Reader discretion advised.

The Colosseum was a place of blood sport. The following information (from travel guide Let’s Go Italy – 2009 edition) may be considered graphic.

“Within 100 days of the Colosseum’s AD 80 opening, some 5000 wild beasts perished in its bloody arena, and the slaughter continued for three more centuries.

“The labyrinth of cells, ramps and elevators used to transport exotic animals from cages to arena level was once covered by a wooden floor and layers of sand. Upon release, the beasts would suddenly emerge into the arena, surprising spectators and hunters alike.

“Animals weren’t the only beings killed for sport; men were also pitted against men. Though these gladiators were often slaves and prisoners, if they won their fights, they were idolized like modern athletes – at least until the next fight.

“Contrary to popular belief, not all gladiator matches ended in death. Some fights stopped after the first knockdown, or the loser could ask the emperor – who would defer to the crowd – for mercy.”

International travel

First Day in Rome – Vatican City

On our first full day in Rome Amanda, Jen and I left our apartment early and walked to Vatican City, where we joined the tour group Enjoy Rome led by a lovely British lady named Agnes.

During this three-hour tour we visited the Vatican Museums, which includes The Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

International travel

Trip of a Lifetime: Three Weeks in Italy

I don’t know why, but over the past few weeks I have felt the strong urge to write about my 2011 trip to Italy. I’ve learned to listen to that little voice that says, “Just do it.”

So please enjoy this recap of a trip-of-a-lifetime. I had no idea I would fall so deeply in love with Italy, and now I know why people return again and again!

International travel

Christmas in Cabo!

Cabo San Lucas | Baja Mexico | Christmas | Resort | Hacienda Del Mar | Sheraton Grand Los Cabos | wheelchair accessible
The Murphy Clan in Cabo

While many people fully embrace “the holiday spirit,” my children and I do not. So rather than feeling Grinch-like this Christmas season, our gift to each other – and ourselves – was to spend a week at my daughter’s timeshare in Cabo San Lucas. 

International travel

5 Great Wheelchair Accessible Spots in Sydney

(The following guest post was written by Olivia Bourke, a writer and blogger who describes herself as “an adventurous traveller who simply wants to explore this incredible world we call our home. Originally from the States, I now call Australia my home. I’m loving every minute exploring this ever so scenic country, one state at a time.”) 

Sydney is a beautiful city with lots of natural attractions and iconic tourist spots. In this modern day and age there are a multitude of great locations that are easily wheelchair accessible with lots of space.

International travel

Enchanting Butchart Gardens

In springtime many people spend hours outside planting, weeding and tending to their gardens. Whether for their own personal enjoyment or to share with others, gardening can be a beautiful and meditative activity.

Although I only keep a few rose bushes and a bed of poppies and Love-in-the-Mist, I am grateful for those who do much more and share their gardens with the public.

California travel International travel US travel

Seven Years | A Tribute to Rich

(A personal tribute to my heart’s companion in travel and in love.)

Travel | love | photography | tribute | adventure | Olympus | Nikon | camera | Images by RJMIt’s been seven years since Rich died.

As I recently told a friend, in some ways it feels like an eternity ago; in other ways, just yesterday.

International travel US travel

Alaskan Cruise 2016 – The Highlights

Carrieanna’s first cruise experience was with her Aunt Vicki three years ago – you can read about it here – when they went to Alaska with a Multiple Sclerosis Foundation group on the Celebrity Solstice.

She found she loved cruising, and when MSF announced a cruise to the Caribbean in January of 2014 she asked me to accompany her – and I discovered that I, too, enjoyed cruising!

International travel

Milford Sound: Breathtaking!

Milford Sound: Breathtaking!“No matter how many photos you’ve seen of Milford Sound, nothing can prepare you for the incredible feeling of actually being there. It is an inspiring and exceptional place.” (Real Journeys brochure)

International travel

Food Glorious (Cruise) Food!

Although I’ve shared most of the highlights of our 2014 Eastern Caribbean Cruise – the accessible room, the MS Education, and the shore excursions to San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Martin – there’s one important detail I haven’t mentioned … Food Glorious (Cruise) Food