Today was supposed to be all about ancient history. We started at the Colosseum and pretended we were the emperor deciding Russel Crowe's fate (maybe next time he'll think twice before throwing a phone at a helpless hotel clerk.) We hit the Forum and walked down the streets like triumphant heroes returning with the spoils of a war that oppressed and destroyed hundreds of cultures. We stood by the Rostrum and pondered jumping the rails to stand up and repeat history: "Friends, Romans, Countrymen... Lend me your ears!" (as if it hasn't been repeated enough...)
We wandered Palatine hill, the site of the Imperial Palace which we decided would be a right cozy home. I've always thought a throne room would be the perfect addition to any house I have.
And then it was onto the Pantheon, which I think had some sort of governmental use, but is really just famous for it's dome.
But we got waylaid by modern history.
See, in Italy, the government is trying to cut funding to schools which means something like half the universities will be shut down, the rest will be more expensive, more croweded and employ fewer teachers. So the students are protesting. En Masse.
Alana was telling me about some of the smaller demonstrations in Perugia and how some bigger ones are televised. En Route to the Colosseum we saw a few groups of students marching with signs and said "oh, how awesome! I love it when people care!"
And then we saw more. While touring the haunts of the ancients, we would occasionally look down and see the gathering of youth grow bigger. And then we could hear them.
And they marched. They marched up the streets in exactly the direction we were headed (the Pantheon) - much to my delight.
"Come on! Let's join in!!!"
I literally took every opportunity I could to pull us into the throng. "No really, I'm almost positive that they're headed to the Pantheon..."
Alana didn't believe me so we ended up trying to avoid the crowds and find lunch. We ended up finding a Pizza and Kebab place, however it was across the stream of protesters.
"Come on! We'll go up a couple of blocks and then march with them and slowly make our way across the street."
So we ate kebabs packed into this tiny place with about 20 Italian students all jostling for a mid-protest boost.
Later we tried to avoid the crowds again by having gelato by the Trevi fountain.
But in the end, we really wanted to see the Pantheon. And luckily for me, it was the site of one of their demonstrations\sit-ins. Oh I was in heaven. Amidst all these people who cared so much about their education and their rights that they were filling the streets with passion. Facing the lines of riot cops with shields and helmets. (Which is scary. I mean, I know my Italian history. I know what happened in the 70s. Those lines of cops were ominous.)
So that was today. We finished off with another nap and another thrifty dinner and gelato (again.)
Tomorrow: Living Roman.