Colosseum, Forum, First Concert

Posted on January 16th, 2011 by

Saturday was a busy day in Roma.

There’s so much to see and do in this ancient metropolis, but the reason this post comes a day later is not due to too much sight seeing but because the local Internet was down for at least 16 hours. (You see, Italy has a different sense of time and urgency than we do in America. “Not good or bad, just different,” our guides Mauro and Elisabeta reminded during the initial bus ride from the airport to the hotel).

Okay, so on Saturday, Jan. 15, the Gustavus Choir and Companion Tour had guided tours (with “whispers” — miniature individual radios with ear pieces so all could hear the guides’ historical knowledge and instructions.)

The Colosseum and Forum were literally blocks from the hotel, Grand Hotel Palatino on Via Cavour, so all walked on foot as ancient Romans had done on their way to these community-building, public-meeting spaces.

Some things learned about the Colosseum:

Gustavus Choir Member Christopher Hall ’11 from Kenai, Alaska, takes in the view inside the Colosseum.
  • It’s an architectural marvel that was built in a mere 8 years despite the fact that it was done thousands of years ago and before modern technology, such as earth movers, dump trucks, cranes, cement mixers, not to mention computers, telephones, and more.
  • It’s where thousands gathered to attend regularly scheduled gladiator matches.
  • The gladiators had intensive training, which included physical, mental, and psychological learning.
  • People of differing economic and social classes sat in different locations — the wealthy had close (court-side so to speak) seats that included their names (carved in marble) and women sat at the top (far away from the contest, separate from the men, and often brought along their knitting).

Here’s a brief video of one choir student’s reaction from inside the Colosseum:

The next stop . . . just a few steps away from the Colosseum on the original, bumpy, rock streets of long ago (see accompanying photograph far below) . . . the Forum.

Here are some things learned about the Forum:

The Gustavus group meets in the center of the Forum, which was the meeting place for Romans centuries ago. It was where they heard the news of the time.
  • It was an open-air gathering place for Romans.
  • It was the city center.
  • It was like today’s CNN, according to whisper tour guide and historian Carmela. She said it was where the people received their news.
  • It contains the tomb of Julius Caesar.
  • For years after the fall of Rome, it laid in ruin under water.

Here’s a brief video of another choir member commenting on Saturday’s historical tours.

After seeing the Colosseum and the Forum, there was free time to explore the city further. Some went to the Parthenon and other historic sites, some went shopping, and some tried gelato (Italian ice cream in numerous flavors).

Then, the students “got down” to business so to speak and performed the first concert in Italy on Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m. at Santa Maria Church in Monte Santo. More about that in the next blog post.

Gustavus Choir members walk on the ancient Roman road between the Colosseum and the Forum on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011.


  1. Kerrie Baish says:

    What a wonderful experience for all of you! Thanks for sharing your daily highlights. They will be forever with you, engrained as very special memories.

  2. Deb Fredrickson says:

    Thank you for sharing this with everyone! Enjoyed the circle song! Hello to Josh Fredrickson from his family!!!!