I wandered about the Coliseum and the Forums today, and they are amazing-- and amazingly huge. It's an enormous complex of ruins and perfect pillars with no buildings attached, entire buildings, monuments, and all in the middle of the city. You can see billboards advertising new cars from the windows of the Coliseum. If I hadn't traveled in India I would say it was all the most amazing thing I'd ever seen, but this was not my first exposure to ancient buildings from the cradle of civilization, so it was all merely one of the most amazing things I'd ever seen. (The ones in India are mostly better-preserved.)

There were indeed roaming gladiators, who could be seen bumming smokes in between getting their pictures taken with tourists. I didn't want to approach a gladiator lest he make me be photographed with him at gladiolus-point, but I accosted a tour guide to ask her about the gladiator school. "I have heard of it," she said. "But I cannot tell you anything about it. I have no interest in such things."

On the way to the Coliseum, I fell in behind a man with such a nice African accent that I began listening to him, and became so fascinated by what he was saying that I followed him and his companion for several blocks. "Jello fries is a traditional Nigerian dish," he seemed to say. "I am very sorry about last night, but I hold to my feelings about the Jello fries." Eventually he revealed that it is chicken with potatoes. I am sure it was actually something like "Gelofrise," but I will probably never find out.

Speaking of eavesdropping, this is the first time I've heard Italian spoken outside of a movie, and it's a very mellifluous language. I like listening to it. People speak quite loudly, so I have many opportunities to listen.

Tonight I had excellent fresh mozzarella Caprese (with olive oil and basil), and decent veal Saltimbocca. I seem to have a hard time avoiding the touristy joints-- every restaurant I look into is packed with them, and so far I liked the food better in Madrid. (Rome is swarming with tourists, and the streets sound like the translator's booth at the UN.) The best things I had today were the Caprese and two blood oranges I bought at a farmer's market.
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