In the southeast Rome one can step back in his or her imagination to the ancient city Rome, the capital of the magnificent Roman empire. It is there that one finds the ruins of the Forum and the Colosseum, those classic structures of Rome that we have read about since grade school. A complex of shops, temples and government offices, the Forum was a bustling center of city life in Rome. While there, you can walk along the Via dei Fori Imperiali on the northern boundary of the Forum, a street that is today a favorite path for strolling citizens and tourists alike. A wonderful view of the Forum is available from atop the Palatine Hill, a short walk from the site.
Farther along the Via dei Fori Imperiali is the Colosseum, which was built by Emperor Vespasian in AD 72 (shortly before the eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii). This is the infamous arena where Roman citizens enjoyed fights between animals, gladiators, and where Christians were eventually fed to lions. This impressive entertainment facility could accommodate 55,000 spectators; roman numerals marking sections of the stadium can still be seen in archways around the perimeter of the structure.
Some distance east (perhaps a quarter of a mile) of the Colosseum is the unimposing but historically rich Basilica of San Clemente (on the corner of Via di San Giovanni in Laterano at Piazza San Clemente). Sequentially erected at this site was an ancient Roman temple to Mithras, a 4th Century AD Christian church, and a medieval, 12th century AD Christian church.
For lunch or dinner, we can stroll around the corner from the basilica to the outdoor market on Via dei SS. Quattro for fresh fruits and vegetables; then to a nearby delicatessen (a salumeria) for a selection of meats, cheeses, breads, and beverages. With these items, we can have a delightful picnic at the nearby park Villa Celimontana. Or, for prepared food, there are recommended trattorias in the vicinity of the Colosseum. Hostaria da Nerone, about 150 ft from the site, on Via delle Terme di Tito. Or Trattoria Pasqualino about two blocks east of the Colosseum. Both of these sites have outdoor tables that offer views of the ruins, as well as reportedly excellent food.
Follow this link to go to ROMARCH, sponsored by the Department of Classics and the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology at the University of Michigan, and the Department of Classics at the University of Cincinnati.