We learned many things about the area, gladiators, & the monuments before stepping into the past and visiting the Roman Forum in 3D. Afterwards, the kids enjoyed dressing up as gladiators, battling, and playing video games on Ancient Rome. Having read many of the Caroline Lawrence's ‘Roman Mysteries’ stories, they already knew a lot, but even I learned something new.
In an Ancient Roman update (or is it a back date?) of Sesame Street’s ‘one of these things doesn’t belong here’, we discovered that things like soap or waxing hair were not used by the Romans. But, the most surprising was that tomatoes – yes, tomatoes! – did not exist in Italy in ancient times. In the country that gave us pasta alla Bolognese, this discovery was mind-boggling at best.
That is, until you stop and think how much Italians copy things (from test answers to shoe designs, to cash card cloning to most everything). Only thing is, unlike the Chinese (or the Americans for that matter – who gave us instead Tuna Helper, Olive Garden restaurants and The Venetian in Vegas), they tend to make them better. Ford may have given us the Model-T, Italy brought on the Ferrari.
And so it was with tomatoes. They supposedly took that pasta from the Chinese and opened ristoranti far and wide. Prosecco is beating Champagne right out of the market, and kiwis? What the New Zealanders thought was only theirs, is now exported in even greater quantities from the Bel Paese. Heck – it’s said that they were Egyptian Pharoahs who sent slaves up mountaintops to bring back lemon ices. Now, you find them sold off street carts in Spanish Harlem.
It was only so long before Italians would start copying each other. Thus the latest rules & regulations governing all of their fine treats: Prosciutto di Parma only from Parma, Prosecco D.O.C. only from Veneto, Parmigiano and mozzarella only from a certain type of cow…
But, considering the Chinese actually copied a Ferrari down to its decals, I predict it’s only a matter of time before we see gondoliers drifting up the Yangtzee River.