(with Kasia, February 2020)
I have been to the Roman Forum a few times before. Well, not infrequently, when someone came to us to Rome, we went with him to the Forum. How many? Four, I think. So the fifth time we went to the Forum without such a cause, it is without any guests. To see what we have not seen there yet. Not at all in my style — I definitely prefer seeing new places.
But Forum just always surprises me. Every time I find a nook where I have never looked before, or which was not previously available to tourists. Not so long ago, I noticed that one can go through Caesar’s Forum and basements under the megalomaniac street of Fori Imperiali to the mighty Forum of Trajan and the ruins of his even more mighty basilica.
I did not immediately come close under the surprisingly vast lateral arches of Maxentius Basilica. I did not come the first time or the second time to the upper end of Via Sacra to see the view of the Forum there. We only recently discovered that the ruins of the temple of Venus and Roma offer the best view of the Coliseum across the street. There are many of these nuggets on the Forum.
This time we went especially for them. In particular, for those not available with a normal ticket, but only with a special one and only open during short time intervals on certain days. First of all, to the church of Santa Maria Antiqua from the 5th century, where buried under Palatine ruins the colorful early Christian and Byzantine frescoes of the 7th century have survived.
This takes a lot of time, but for those who want to explore slowly and with the skills of getting where they need to, we recommend such a non-trivial version of the Forum.