The Colosseum is beautiful at night. It is a series of graceful forms, fairly well lit. But there is a thrill to be inside this incredible structure by day. To know that beyond thousands of years ago, you are experiencing a place with similar light and air. Getting a sensibility of the structure as it might have been first intended. Stairways still intact, but inaccessible give you a sense of direction of movement, and then the site with the surrounding architecture.
At the wonderful Museo della Civiltà Romana (Museum of the Roman Civilization), you get to see plaster reconstructions of anything, including the Colloseo as it might have been. This sports staduim with a covered basement, now exposed, which held both animals and people featured in the show. The final move away from the Greek hillside ampitheater, like the one on the Akropoli in Athens (below), to a freestanding structure.
It is amazing to see how much good detail is still intact, and there is still enough there to get a sensibility of what it must have been like. Despite what we have become this stadium still serves us as model. It is funny to see the structure with the most important thing, the seating, gone. Only the sports have changed most would argue.
The genius of the Romans to have established modern looking cities, complex and crowded. The models made it look like cities of today, with the exception of a few structures which would do better in the mall of DC, than most newly established cities. I remember in Fellini’s Satyricon seeing how the apartments were high, several stories. I had read about it, but no one had represented it before.
The museum may be kind of a hokey idea Mussolini had in his head, but the change of seeing a scale model of what we see today as ruins, in bits and pieces, gives us many ideas about city planning and how little we actually have changed.