Day 745: Roma Eterna

One could easily spend many days touring Roma Eterna, the eternal city.  It was so named by the Latin poet, Ovid, and others reflecting the view commonly held by the ancients that Rome would go on forever.  Laetitia decided to follow the “lick and a promise” principle using the term that her grandmother used when she did a haphazard job of housecleaning.  She would spend three days here and touch only a few highlights and save more extensive touring for a future return trip.

Laetitia took her group to the Vatican, but only to the Pinacoteca Vaticana to see the paintings of Caravaggio, Perugino, Leonardo, Raphael, Giotto and other masters.  Popular Vatican places like the Sistine Chapel are often too crowded to be enjoyed.  They went next to the Trevi Fountain.  Legend holds that visitors who toss coins in the fountain will return to Rome.  It’s a tradition that pays well.  Coins worth about 3,000 Euros are collected from the fountain at the end of each day.  The fountain was the centerpiece of the 1954 film, Three Coins in the Fountain, and the scene of Anita Ekberg’s late night romp in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.  They moved on to the Coliseum, built by Emperor Vespasian in 74 A.D.  It could accommodate 50,000 spectators who could watch such spectacles as gladiatorial contests, executions, and mock sea battles.

Their last visit was to the Forum Romanum.  The Roman Forum, that was the center of political, economic, religious and public life in ancient Rome.  This is the place where the Roman Senate convened and where S.P.Q.R. originated.  The Latin phrase, Senatus Populus Que Romanus, means “The Senate and the People of Rome.”  It embodied the spirit of the Roman Republic and in ancient times appeared on coins, banners, monuments, buildings and documents.  The forum is the place Julius Caesar was murdered by the senators when he decided to end the republic and become emperor.

The oldest structure on the forum still standing is the ruin of the beautiful Temple of Vesta.  The original building dates back to around the seventh century B.C.  It had to be rebuilt on several occasions but always kept its circular shape.  Surrounded by ornate Corinthian columns, it housed the eternal flame that was tended by the Vestal Virgins.  As they were viewing the temple they couldn’t help but hear a man and woman arguing in French.  Laetitia has little of the language but a woman from Rouen in her group translated.  The gist was:  the man (Jacques) was trying unsuccessfully to badger the woman (Fabienne) to sleep with him.  Laetitia made it the limerick of the day.

When Jacques gave Fabienne at the Forum
His opinion that two was a quorum
For a ménage à deux
She allowed how it’s true
But declined because he lacked decorum.