Flora and fauna seem to be recurring themes here in Rome, which is ironic given that most everything seems covered in thousands of years of cement, cobblestones or just plain dirt. It is convenient though, given the boys’ addiction to these two categories. They have hunted for whales off the cape, taken in the wildflowers of Elm bank and chased bullfrogs in their own backyard. What’s a ruin?; Sydney asks today. Hmm…. Why does stuff fall apart?; he asks as I explain that many of these ancient sites have been rebuilt recently only to look like a decaying version of what they used to.
What was most bizarre about these monuments of marble, paving stones and ancient cement is that they were all covered in fiori, (flowers). As they boys chased around the Campo di Fiori it was hard to imagine where the paved piazza had gotten the name field of flowers. Yet, the boys spent hours in the Palatine picking winter daisies off of the former estates of Ancient Rome’s version of Beverly Hills. They didn’t even notice that the backyard fountains of these wealthy urban Romans would have swallowed our little house whole.
The only fauna we seem to find here are cats and pigeons, evidently one population does not control the other. So, why is it that we spent the day talking large predators? Well, evidently the cellars of the Coliseum were home to not just lions and tigers, (bears oh my?), but wolves, jaguars and other large cats. We certainly skipped the entertaining debate about lions eating Christians, myth or reality. We need to read "The Roman Coliseum" by Elizabeth Man for some kid-friendly versions. But, we did look at some pretty cool pictures of them jumping out of cages elevated up from the basement to add to the surprise. Sydney and Elijah have been recreating this scene all week, chasing every last pigeon out of every forum, (Caesar, Augustus, Hadrian, etc.) they find. (Click here to see the "Running of the Pigeons" at the Coliseum). So while modern day central Rome is no typical urban oasis for kids, (few parks, playgrounds, or open athletic fields), the ruins have provided the best access to the outdoors we could have asked for. Now, if I could only explain what a ruin is.