Oh Rome! My Country! City of the Soul!

Oh Rome! My country! City of the soul!
The orphans of the heart must turn to thee,
Lone mother of dead empires! and control
in their shut breasts their petty misery.
What are our woes and sufferance? Come and see
The cypress, hear the owl, and plod your way
O’er steps of broken thrones and temples, Ye!
Whose agonies are evils of a day —
A world is at our feet as fragile as our clay.

Byron. Childe Harolde. IV. LXXVIII. Statue of Byron in Villa Borghese Gardens.


In the Footsteps of Spartacus

Some 15 miles north of Italy is the town of Capua, situated in a bend of the slow flowing River Volturno.  The star attraction is the local Roman amphitheatre.  Now in a poor state of repair, at its height it was the second largest amphitheater in Italy after the Colosseum.  60,000 people could watch the games here in four massive 40m-high stories.   The amphitheatre itself is cheap to get into and well worth a wander around.

You can also access the tunnels below the main arena for an atmospheric glimpse into the inner workings of the games. Capua, known for its wealth and luxury, was also a hub of a number of gladiator schools, including one where the famous Thracian Spartacus trained.   And you can see the remains of the older, smaller amphitheatre where he fought and there is a small gladiator museum nearby.

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