Monday, December 04, 2006

October 2006 - Rome, Italy - Dinner, Dancing, Testacio & the Olympic Pavillion

We started the week in style, hitting one of Rome's best restaurants (Al Presidente) in the Quirinale area (where the President's palace is located). We had the best fish tartare (Red Snapper) and 2nd best risotto (covered in white truffles) we'd ever eaten.
We also made an appearance at one of the hottest nightclubs in Rome's historic center - The Supper Club. It's housed in one of Rome's oldest Palazzo's on the site of Agrippa's ancient thermal spa, a few blocks from the Pantheon. The Palazzo was constructed in the 13th Century and has been the residence of many important Roman families. It's now an enormous night club, lounge and restaurant with countless colorfully-lit rooms and strange performance artists.
We also did some sightseeing in Testaccio, a trendy residential neighborhood just outside of the historic center of Rome. This area is not visited by tourists so it provides a realistic picture of how Romans live. After a long walk through Testaccio, we stopped at Campo Cestio which is the cemetary for non-Catholics (primarily English and Germans) including, John Keats and Percy Shelley.

Next, we stopped at this massive pyramid built into the Aurelian Wall enclosing Rome. The gate into Rome in the picture below is Porta San Paolo. This pyramid is actually a tomb for the very rich and eccentric senior Roman magistrate, Caius Cestius, who died in 12 B.C. This enormous white marble pyramid is Cestius' only claim to fame.

Our next stop, across town, was the Parco Olimpico, where we hoped to watch a calcio (soccer) game, but we were too late so we toured the home of the 1960 Olympics instead.

Here's the main Olympic Pavillion with hundreds of scooters parked out front. The scooter or "moto" is the most popular mode of transportation in Rome.

And here's a 20th Century mosaic of the symbol of Rome - the She-Wolf suckling Romulus & Remus. Mosaics like this one (paying homage to the ancient Roman art of mosaic tiling) depicting various symbols of Rome and athletic themes cover the entire promenade floor surrounding the Olympic Pavillion and leading up to the Stadio Olimpico and the track & field grounds.

The track & field grounds is surrounded by enormous statutes of athletes representing each of the cities of Italy.

Here are Casandra and Corinne (our friend from Italian class) sitting before Mr. Ancona (the capital of the Le Marche region of Italy).
And here is Mr. Roma.

Finally (in tribute to his Sicilian roots), here's Kenny with Mr. Palermo.

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