Profusely blossoming wisteria wafted fragrance
through our walk.  The branches are so strong
and invasive, they’re probably helping to hold
this arch up.
Ancient Roman ruins – including the Senate, the
Forum, formal gardens, city center, and palaces
for Julius Caesar and later Nero on the hillside.

Weather, vandalism and time have taken their toll.
Julius Caesar was murdered by Brutus here.

Vestal virgins were a handful of women, chosen at age 10
 for their purity and beauty.  They were required to serve
 until age 40, taking a vow of chastity in order to perform rituals
 involving the sacred hearth and fire.  Retired virgins
 were allowed to marry and given a large dowry at age 40,
 well beyond child bearing years.  Virgins who went
were given a torch and a loaf of bread and buried alive.
Ruins of an ancient gymnasium, a training facility
for competitors. Athletes competed nude, a
practice said to encourage aesthetic appreciation
of the male body, and as a tribute to the gods.

The Pantheon was built in 14 AD to honor the gods
of ancient Rome.   It is the best preserved of all the
ancient buildings, giving you a feel of what the
Roman ruins would have looked like were they
still standing.
Imagine this building, even larger than the Pantheon.

The coffered concrete dome has a
central oculus open to the sky.  It
is the world’s largest unreinforced
concrete dome. When it opened,
Romans thought the gods made
any rain disappear before it hit
the floor.  In reality, it was the heat
from all the candles that vaporized it
before it hit the floor. 

Hard to believe that people have been walking on
these marble floors for over 2,000 years, and they still
look perfect.  Floors contain tiny drains built
in for rainwater.

With only natural light, the marble work is stunning.