Preparing for Italy

In preparation for coming to Italy, Mike and I read Brunelleschi’s Dome and A Traveller’s History of Italy. We watched Classical Archaeology of Ancient Greece and Rome and Rome and the Barbarians from The Teaching Company. We watched a number of Italian movies including Pane e Tulipane and Divorce, Italian Style.

Pompeii Amphitheater

The amphitheater in Pompeii where gladiatorial combat would have taken place.

Oh, and we watched Gladiator. It was my idea, much to Mike’s surprise, since Action/Adventure is not a Netflix category I browse often. Or ever.

I had some idea of what went on in the Roman Colosseum, and I wanted to know more. I think maybe I was a bit disbelieving; gladiatorial combat and people pitted against lions is such a strange and gruesome idea it’s hard to grasp. Or maybe I just didn’t want to grasp it. The professors of both of our Great Courses praised the opening battle scene in the movie: they thought the Hollywood movie makers got a few things right.

The tunnel running under the perimeter of the amphitheater

The tunnel running under the perimeter of the amphitheater.

It turns out I’m glad we watched it. I admit there were parts I didn’t actually watch, but I paid attention, focused on what might or might not be true to history, and it gave me some ideas and raised a bunch of questions that led to discussion—there is only one Colosseum, and it is in Rome; other amphitheaters throughout the Roman Empire hosted gladiatorial games and combat, too, though. I looked forward to seeing the amphitheater in Pompeii—watching the movie made the experience more interesting—and thus it served a fine purpose.

Pompeii Amphitheater Inside

Inside the Pompeii Amphitheater. Please don’t let the lions out now.

I tried really hard to imagine what went on here 2,000 years ago.

This is what went on the day we were there.

Pompeii Combat, 2013

Pompeii gladiatorial combat, 2013.

Pompeii Combat, 2013

Pompeii Combat, 2013

Categories: Italy, Travel

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