Mediterranean Cruise 2008
July 19 - August 4
Here are some pictures from a vacation my parents and I took
around Italy and Croatia.
The vacation started in Rome, then boarded Royal Caribbean's Legend of
the Seas from July 22-August 4 with ports of call in Portofino, Levorno
(Florence & Tuscany), Messina (Sicily), Split (Croatia), Venice,
Dubrovnik (Croatia), and finally Naples.
I've selected about 150 photos here, but you can
view all ~1200 photos here (even the bad ones).
If you see a photo you like, just click on it, and a full sized version of
that photo will load in a new window (generally 3456x2592 pixels, or 8.9 megapixel,
which is usually about 4MB).
So far I've only added explanatory comments for Rome, which are largely taken from
to which most of the links redirect to.
In the future I'll add the same for the rest of the locations.
This web page is written in strict conformance with HTML 4.01. If your browser
doesn't view it properly, then you probably need an update.
You can view a full sized version of any photo by clicking on it.
I once heard the expression "All History is a Celebration of Rome," and after
seeing it, I agree!
When visiting Rome, you will see SPQR everywhere - on ancient ruins, on
modern buildings, and especially on public works (like water works
and sewers). SPQR is the Latin
abbreviation for Senatus Populusque Romanus --- the Senate and
People of Rome.
Piazza del Popolo
The Obelisk in the Piazza del Popolo was brought to Rome from Egypt by Cæsar
Augustust and originally placed in the Circus Maximus. Pope Sixtus VI
moved the Obelisk to the Piazza del Popolo in 1589. Obelisks were a highly
prized military spoil, and an interesting fact is that today there are more
than twice as many obelisks standing in Rome as remain in Egypt.
Column of Marcus Aurelius
Column of Marcus Aurelius
stands on its original location at the Piazza Colonna. It is modeled on
the Column of Trajan, and celebrates the military campaigns
of Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Germania during the second century A.D.
As with Trajan's column, it is a hollow Doric column with a spiral releif
and interior stair case, standing 100 feet tall.
Pope Sixtus V restored the column in 1589, adding the statue of the apostle
Paul to the top of the column.
Vittoria Emanuele II Monument (Italian Unification)
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy was a loose confederation of
city-states until it was united in 1861 under the reign of
This monument, in honor of him and the Italian unification, borders the Roman Forum.
Victor Emmanuel is buried in the Roman Pantheon.
Trajan's Column, Trajan's Market & Trajan's Forum
Trajan's forum and markets are located just north of the Roman Forum.
is famous for its bas relief depicting the Dacian wars (the area now
known as Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Hungary and Bulgaria). The column is
about 98 feet tall and was orginially topped with a statue of a bird
(probably an eagle), then
later a statue of Trajan himself (which disappeared sometime in the Middle
Ages). In 1588, Pope Sixtus V placed statue of St. Peter atop the
column, where it remains to this day.
Today, Trajan's forum is about 20 feet below current ground level and it
is not possible to approach the base of it. The inscription on the base
Which means, roughly,
The Senate and people of Rome [dedicate this to the] emperor Caesar,
son of the divine Nerva, Nerva Traianus Augustus Germanicus Dacicus, pontifex
maximus (high priest), in his 17th year holding power of the tribune, having been acclaimed 6
times as imperator, 6 times consul, pater patriae (father of his country), to demonstrate of what
great height the hill [was] and place [that] was removed for such great works.
The Colennaded "Dei Fori Imperiali"
The Dei Fori Imperiali, formerly the Via Triumphale, was built
by Benito Mussolini and makes a straight line from the Piazza Venezia
to the Colosseum. It runs through the ancient Roman Forum and covers
parts of the Forum of Trajan, Forum of Augustus and Forum of Nerva,
parts of which can be seen on both sides of the road. The street is
lined with statues of the Cæsars.
(Latin: Forum Romanum)
was the center around which the ancient Roman civilazation developed.
It is located between the Palatine and the Capitoline hills. Today, the
Dei Fori Imperiali (a road) covers part of the Forum.
The Forum was orginially built on a wetland in the 7th century B.C. After
the fall of the Roman Empire, the wetlands started reclaiming the Forum,
silting it in, and by the Middle Ages, it was completely covered and being
used as a cow pasture, which it remained until the late 18th century A.D.
when excavations began.
For me, personally, this was the highlight of the trip. For a mere €13
(about $20) you can freely roam the same travertine-lined streets that
the Cæsars did. It was an amazing experience to literally be
standing on the Foundation of Western Civilization.
The Emporer Vespasian started construction of the
in 72 A.D., but died before it was completed in 80 A.D. (under the Emperor
Titus). It is officially known as the Flavian Ampitheater
(Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium). The name derives from
Vespasian's and Titus's family name, Flavius.
The Colosseum is generally identified with gladiatorial contests, but it was
used for all manner of entertainments, including reenactments of batlles,
animal hunts, and dramas. Mock naval battles were even put on by
flooding the center.
ruins are but a shell of the original building - which was originally clad
in marble and had statues in each arch (which are now in the Vatican).
An earthquake in 1349 collapsed the outer 2 walls on the south side, and
throughout the medival period, the Colosseum was slowly stripped of
its stone and marble. The outer walls are now pock marked with
large holes because the bronze clamps, which orginally held the stone
and marblework together, were hacked out and used
for other purposes over the centuries.
Although the Church had taken much of the original Colosseum
pieces, in the end it was the Church that saved the Colosseum and
preserved it for posterity. In 1749, Pope Benedict XIV delared the
Colosseum sacred, having been sanctified by the Christian martyrs
who died there.
Triumphal Arches of the Forum Romanum
Arch of Titus
Arch of Titus is the oldest remaining triumphal arch in the Roman Forum.
It was constructed in c.82 AD by Emperor Domitian after the death
of his older brother, Titus, to commemorate his victory in
Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
The Arch of Titus is the inspiration for many triumphal arches,
including the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.
The Latin inscription reads:
(Abbreviation Expanded: Senatus Populusque Romanus divo Tito divi Vespasiani filio Vespasiano Augusto)
"The Senate and People of Rome (dedicate this) to the divine Titus Vespasianus Augustus, son of the divine Vespasian."
Arch of Septimius Severus
Arch of Septimius Severus is a triumphal arch erected in AD 203
to commemorate the Parthian victories of Emperor Septimius Severus.
It is situated at the foot of the Capitoline Hill between the Curia
and the Rostra. Originally, the arch was topped with statues of the
emperor and his two sons in a four-horse chariot (quadriga),
accompanied by soldiers.
The Latin inscription reads:
Translated it reads:
To the Emperor Septimius Severus, Son of Marcus, Pius, Pertinax, Pater Patriae, Parthicus Arabicus,
Parthicus Adiabenicus, Pontifex Maximus, having held the tribunician power 11 times,
acclaimed emperor 11 times, Consul 3 times, Proconsul,
and Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Caracalla), Son of Lucius, Antoninus, Augustus Pius, Felix,
having held the auspicious tribunician power 6 times, Consul, Proconsul, Pater Patriae,
Highest and Strongest Princes
for having restored the State and enlarged the Empire of the Roman people,
by their visible strengths at home and abroad, the Senate and People of Rome [made this]
During the Middle Ages repeated flooding of the low-lying Forum washed in
so much additional sediment and debris that when Canaletto painted it in
1742, only the upper half of the Arch showed above ground. The well-preserved
condition of the arch owes a good deal to its having been incorporated into
the structure of a Christian church. When the church was refounded elsewhere,
the arch remained ecclesiastical property and was not demolished for
Arch of Constantine
Arch of Constantine is the last of the (remaining) triumphal arches built in
Rome. It was built in honor of Constantine the Great's victory over
Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in the year 312 A.D., which
was a critical event in Western history.
According to Constantine, before the battle, with the
legions falling into formation, he saw a vision in the sky of
the Cross (or possibly chi-rho) with these words
IN · HOC · SIGNO · VINCES
(English: In this sign, conquer).
Constantine won the battle, converted to Christianity and later
issued the Edict of Milan, which ended the persecution of
Christians (undertaken by his predecessor, Diocletian) and
proclaimed religious toleration throughout the empire.
The Latin inscription on this arch is as follows (and is hard to read):
Which means roughly
To the Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantinus, the greatest, pious,
and blessed Augustus: because he, inspired by the divine, and by the
greatness of his mind, has delivered the state from the tyrant and
all of his followers at the same time, with his army and just force
of arms, the Senate and People of Rome have dedicated this arch,
decorated with triumphs.
was built by
in 27 B.C. during his 3rd Consulship, which is what
the inscription on the front of the building says:
M · AGRIPPA · L · F · COS · TERTIVM · FECIT
(literally: Marcus Agrippa, Son of Lucus, during his
3rd Consulship, built this).
It was orginially a temple dedicated to all the Roman gods.
The Pantheon was a masterpiece of ancient engineering, and remains the
the largest unreinforced domed building in the world. The center
of the roof is open, the oculus, and remains so today. In fact
the day we visited it had briefly rained, and there was a little bit of
water on the floor, but the orginal drainage system
below the floor still seems to work.
The Pantheon was badly damaged in the great fire of 80 A.D.
(while Nero fiddled, according to legend). The Emperor Hadrian rebuilt
it in 125 A.D. In the year 609 A.D., the Emperor Phocas gave the Pantheon
to Pope Boniface IV, which saved it from the terrible destruction that
befell most of Rome's other ancient wonders during the Dark Ages (the period
between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance). Boniface IV
consecrated it Santa Maria ad Martyres (Latin); today it is known
as Santa Maria dei Martiri in Italian, but most people still
call it the Pantheon.
Portofino is an old Roman town on the Northern Italian coast (almost in France).
The ship docked at Levorno. Florence is about an hours drive from the port.
The Duomo is the Cathedral of Florence, the Basilica di Santa Maria
del Fiori and is famous for the Baptistery Doors and the ornate Dome.
The Latin inscription
ECCE · HOMO
are the words used by Pontius Pilate in the Vulgate [common Latin] translation
of the Gospel of John (19:5), when he presented a scourged Jesus Christ,
bound and crowned with thorns, to a hostile crowd shortly before his Crucifixion.
The King James bible translates the phrase as Behold the Man.
It is widely used in Christian art of the period.
We docked at Messina and took a bus tour to Taormina and then to Mt Etna, which
has been erupting since 2002.
Fiumicino Airport Lounge
Mom, Dad (and me) say goodbye to Italy with a nice long wait in the airport lounge.
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