Going to Rome
How to get to Rome from Picinisco
Trains depart frequently from Cassino train station to Rome. There are 2 types of a train, a fast train that takes around 95 minutes and a slower train that takes around 120 minutes. With very little time difference between the journeys each train offers, the more scenic journey, on the slower train, does not contribute more value to the experience but does provide a glimpse of rural life as you go through about 20 stations in villages and town on the way to Rome. I recommend taking the fast train only as on the return journey, which you will surely be tired, it is easy to end up missing the stop at Cassino.
If you are going to Rome for the day you will need to leave early. The train times from Cassino leave and arrive as follows:
- 8:00 – 9:38
- 8:10 – 9:45
- 8:44 – 10:10
- 9:11 – 11:26
- 10:14 – 11:45
- 10:20 – 12:20
If you arrive any later you will be forced to miss some of the larger attractions.
In Italy you will see very few ticket inspectors. Each journey you make on the trains is validated on your ticket, before you pass through on to the platform you will see a little orange machine where you put your ticket in to be stamped.
The cost of the ticket is extremely cheap, for €10:50 (around £6.50) you will get a travelcard for the entire Lazio region, including full use of all public transport in Rome.
In Rome, the equivalent of the English "Underground" is called the “Metro”. The Metro in Rome has 2 lines, Linea A (orange) and Linea B (black). Termini (the cental station in Rome) carries both these lines as soon as you step off the train. For those of you who are familiar with Paddington station in London, the setup is exactly the same with the underground access immediately available from the end of the overland platform, and indeed requires you to go down some steps too.
The Colloseum. Built by Vespasian in 72AD shortly after the end of the reign of Nero (68AD). Vespasian was a different blood line completely as Nero committed suicide with no family or children left. The construction of the Colloseum took 8 years and was completed in 80AD and the opening celibration was greeted with games for 90 days continously.
The colloseum is famous for it’s gladitorial contests where enslaved armies of Romes captured armies fought against each other for the pleasure of the Roman citizens. As many of you will know animals from all over the empire were brought to Rome to be paraded in the Colloseum either in fierce combat with experienced gladiators or as part of planned executions.
The Romans, despite embellishing what surely must be the most widespread and savage blood sport known to history, considered themselves a civilised society. In fairness, when considered against the countries and tribes that they conquered the Romans were indeed centuries ahead of the rest in terms of society, government, knowledge and economy. The games were created for emperors to showcase the peopld of their conquests, with captured militia and armies from countries such as Egypt fighting to the death against armies and militia from Polynesia, Greece and so on. Once you became a gladiator the only way you would leave this life was being taken to the morgue, or, by being granted your freedom.
The colloseum actually received it’s name much like Englands own stadium Wembley did. Although it was called Wembley it is often referred to as the two towers as signified by the two white towers which overlooked the actual pitch. The Colloseum received it’s name because of the “Collosus” outside the stadium sanctioned by and depicting Nero. The collosus was some 35M tall and made from bronze, gold and marble.
The colloseum could hold roughly 50,000 – 75,000 spectators (equivalent to a match at Manchester Uniteds Old Trafford), which is a huge amount when you consider that the population of Rome peaked at around 500,000 people at this time in history. The best seats in the Colloseum were nearest to the action, with the highest class of citizens such as governors, senators, ambassadors occupying these seats. The emperor would have been seated in his own private box slightly indented into the arena so that all of Rome could see their leader. He would have been accompanied by immediate family and any special guests he was entertaining.
The Colloseum charges €10.00 (around £6.50) entrance fee. If you have people in your group who are under 24 you will receive a discount and pay only €6.00 (around £4.00) to get in. To qualify for this discount you will need photo ID such as your drivers licence or passport.
I strongly recommend taking the guided tour, not only do you get to jump the queue but it is priced very reasonably and covers a lot of information and detail in perfectly spoken English. The guides there are extremely knowlgeably, friendly and eager to answer any questions you may have. The guide carries a microphone and portable speaker so hearing what is said requires no straining of the neck.
The price for the guided tour is €3.50 (around £2.00) per head and lasts for 45 minutes and is spread across a variety of key locations throughout the colloseum. Although it would be possible to tag along to another group without paying by lurking in the background you are provided with a special tag worn around the neck so that the guide can easily see who is on the tour and who is not.
Tours were avaliable in English, Spanish French and German. Other languages may be available but it was not made clear if that was the case.
After your 45 minute tour I recommend that you use some time to take picture and wander around the sights.
Upon entering the Colloseum your first thought will be that is seems smaller than you had imaginedd, in fact you are correct, a lot of the Colloseum has fallen down and has not been replaced - athough heavy reconstruction has been carried out on the South side of the Colloseum. The decay of the Colloseum was accelerated during the barbarian invasions of Rome during the middle of the first millenia, AD, and also the change in religious direction from worshipping multiple gods to following one God. Naturally the catholic church and christianity could never condone such wanton violence that the Colloseum contained and it began to serve less of a purpose to the Roman public. The pope would often sanction a new church which would require marble, rather than order new shipments of marble the materials, and elegence, was stripped from the Colloseum. Much like the Acropolis in Greece where the Parthenon and other ancient treasures have been stripped of their glory, and more recenty the snatching of the Elgin marbles by the British empire during the 18th century, a matter still not resovled between the greek and british government.
When you see the colloseum you are looking at the framework, the steel infrastucture of an equivalent modern building wihout the furnishings, glass, or panels. To fully appreciate the historic beauty of the colloseum you will need to immagine that every face, floor, step and seat was covered with the finest white marble. Paintings, sculptures and inscriptions lined walls and passageways – it truly would have been a sight to see.
Littered around the Colloseum are other ancient buldings, you can see remnants of “The Forum”. Forum is a generic term for a congregation of core buildings that every large town or city had. Typically the forum would contain temples of a selection of Gods, a granary, a main temple, a market place where citizens would buy and sell produce. Unfortunately the forum is not available to wander around freely, perhaps because the standing structures are unstable or the preservation of the history was considered more important than public and tourist satisfaction. In fairness you can fully appreciate the grandure of the remaining structures without actually being inside the forum. Random arches, temple faces, columns and ancient building foundations occupy every direction you look in when making your way north of the colloseum towards the other monuments in Rome.
Although there are no information boards for each structure, as you would expect to find in England, they deffinitely have a purpose as you can see many guides explaining their purpose to their group.
As you make your way north through the ancient ruins, and up some gentle steps you come to a column with Romulus and Remus suckling form a wolf. Football fans will immediately make the connection between AS Roma and their mascot, il lupo (the wolf). It is said that Romulus and Remus were abondoned in the river tiber in a basket until they drifted down and washed up on the nutrient rich and fertile river banks. The friendly neighbourhood wolf (betraying the instinct of his species) took pity on Romulus and Remus and mothered them, feeding each on her rich milk. The story is a bit vague from child to man, but, as I am sure you are aware Romulus went on to found “Rome” whereas Remus ran off.