A sketch of the Coliseum in Rome... but just the part I'm interested in: the guts, the structure under the floor where the fighters and animals were staged before battle.
Rome was such an intense city. My second trip to Italy, the one I made with Rosie, didn't even include a trip there. This surprised many people: "How can you not go to Rome?"
Rome is arguably the most metropolitan city in Italy (some would say Milan); it feels a bit like an older, more ornamental, smaller New York City. It's noisy, complex, long, a bit rowdy, and full of Gypsies. And there are just too many churches, sculptures, fountains and too many incoming train tracks at the stazione.
June 1994: So we decided to go to St. Peter's Basilica on free day, the day of the week where everyone is allowed into the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, etc., free of charge. I think it was Tuesday. We thought this would be a great idea, and it would have been... had 300,000 other tourists and Italians not come up with exactly the same idea.
Needless to say, we were in "line" for a large portion of the day (I say "line" facetiously because Italians have no concept of the "line." To them, line up means "everybody rush toward the entrance and cram together until nobody can move and everyone is pissed-off and yelling at each other").
We were fortunate enough to be waiting next to a class of Sicilian elementary students. Let me assure you, Sicilian elementary students are approximately 500 times louder and more obnoxious than your standard issue Italian elementary students (which are, in turn, 500 times louder than American elementary students). These kids were climbing the battered walls of the Vatican, apparently thinking that this would allow them to get in before everyone else. They were the most animated kids I'd ever seen, and they had a leader.
There was one little dark-haired girl, the same age as the rest, that seemed to be running the show. She was the ringleader; she bossed them around, verbalizing commands with words and arms flying everywhere. She was in control; it was amazing. It was one of those times when you really realize just how different cultures can be. Kids in America simply don't have that kind of self-awareness. I'd never seen a person with such confidence, ever, and she was 9 years old.
I think, some day, she may be running the world.