Saturday, November 28, 2009

November 16, 2009

Flight landed in Rome at 8:20 am. Doesn't my mom look excited?

Of course there was no time to waste, there is just so much to do. So after we checked into our hotel and had some breakfast and cappucino, it was off to our first tour (I have a thing about doing tours, I like to learn about what I am seeing). It was called Crypts and Catacombs.

The tour meet at the Piazza Barberini, which of course has a fountain, and like good tourists, here we are in front of it.

Now the funny part is that as we were standing by the fountain talking to our tour guide, Daniela, about where we were from, some random girl leans over and says, "Where in Connecticut are you from? I'm from Bristol". Small world.

First stop on the tour was the San Callisto Catacombs (ancient Christian burial ground). This is of course a sacred place, and there are no pictures allowed, but here we are at the enterance before our descent:

The catacombs were pretty cool, I was surprised by how well they were designed. Who knew ancient Christians thought about acoustics?

Next stop was the Church of San Clemente (built over an ancient fourth century church built over an even older Roman house containing Christian artifacts and a pagan temple -- with ruins reaching 57 feet deep). Again, no pictures allowed, which sort of stunk. But it was pretty cool to keep going down flights of steps and into the past. I find it funny that Roman's say the city is a lasagna, it just kept being rebuilt upon itself, layer for layer.

The final stop was the The Cappuccini Crypt. Here is the Cappucin Order's crest. It is two arms one with a cloak representing St. Francis of Assisi and one naked, representing Jesus.

The Cappuccini Crypt is built within a church, and has several chapels decorated entirely by human bones. The story goes that the Cappucin brothers were originally located at one church, and then some rich person donated them land for a new church. Not wanting to leave their brothers behind, they took all the remains with them. One brother had too much time on his hands, and 4,000 human bones, so he decorated a bunch of chapels with them. Again, a sacred place so I couldn't take pictures, but take my word for it, it was gross. Particularly gross was the Altar of the Pelvises, made entirely out of pelvic bones. Eww. But, if you get a chance, check it out.

After our tour it was of course time to explore a little, walk around, and get some dinner, so we hopped on a city bus to take us from the Piazza Barberini to the Largo Argentina in the center of Rome. And what wandering would be complete without a trip to the Piazza Navona?

The largest of the two fountains is called the Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It is also the Altar of Water in one of my favorite novels, "Angels and Demons".

The second fountain in the Piazza is the Fountain of Neptune, designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1574.

After we wandered around for about 45 minutes, in what I swear was a giant "s", we finally found the restaurant we planned to eat dinner at. Thank you Dad for teaching me to read and follow a map, which was actually quite handy once I started to use it.

I love the wine and prosecco on the table. Nothing like Italian wine in Italy.

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