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A Rambling Writer Rerun: Italy, part 3: The Roman Forum

Your virtual vacation to Italy continues as Thor and I explore the ancient Roman Forum, center of political, religious, and commercial life.

NOTE: For a virtual vacation and time-travel, join me and Thor in 2008. Italy! Starting with highlight photos posted here on Saturday, June 15, I’ll continue this rerun series every week, with occasional interruptions for other Geezer Adventures. Join us in Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Venice, and Milan. Buon viaggio!

After our visit to the Colosseum (last week’s blog post), Thor and I crossed the street to the sprawling complex of ruins of the Forum, once the heart of ancient Rome. The Roman entity, from settlement to republic to empire to decline and defeat, lasted a thousand years, from roughly 500 B.C. to 500 A.D. Julius Caesar was the first to be declared emperor and later deified. His adopted son and successor, Augustus Caesar, initiated the “Pax Romana” Roman Peace that lasted from 1 to 200 A.D., the empire stretching from England to Egypt, Turkey to Morocco.

The Forum was originally a marshy valley. When the Romans moved into the area and organized, they built a meeting place here in the 6th century B.C., as well as the first temples, to Saturn, Vulcan, Mars, and Vesta.  (As mentioned last week, the Romans coopted much of Greek culture and religion, renaming most of their deities.) The first Forum buildings were burned by invaders; building began again in the 3rd century B.C.  Around 50 B.C., Julius Caesar rebuilt much of it on grand scale. It functioned as the city’s political, religious, and commercial center – and as its symbolic center for hundreds of years.

Seen from surrounding hills or in a ramble through it, the Forum looks like mostly rubble, and certainly can’t compare for impressive beauty with the Athens Acropolis and its marble temples, but there’s a lot of important history packed into this space.

From Rick Steves Rome 2017 : “Picture being here when a conquering general returned to Rome with crates of booty. The valley was full of gleaming white buildings topped with bronze roofs. The Via Sacra—the Forum’s Main Street—would be lined with citizens waving branches and carrying torches. The trumpets would sound as the parade began. First came porters, carrying chests full of gold and jewels. Then a parade of exotic animals from the conquered lands—elephants, giraffes, hippopotamuses—for the crowd to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at. Next came the prisoners in chains, with the captive king on a wheeled platform so the people could jeer and spit at him. Finally, the conquering hero himself would drive down in his four-horse chariot, with rose petals strewn in his path.”

It’s a confusing place, so we’ll start with the main features as we left the Colosseum and ghosts of gladiators. Unfortunately, Roman history features more bloodshed in the form of aggressive wars for power and territory.

Arch of Constantine:

I’m posting my complete blog entries on my own author website at, where you can finish this episode and enjoy all the accompanying photos. Please continue reading by clicking on the link below, then you can return here (use “go back” arrow above) to comment, ask questions, or join a conversation. We love your responses!


You will find The Rambling Writer’s blog posts here every Saturday. Sara’s novel from Book View Cafe is available in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection — a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?”  The novel has received the Chanticleer Global Thriller Grand Prize and the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction. Sara is at work on the sequel, The Ariadne Disconnect. Sign up for her quarterly email newsletter at




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