A Roman Holiday (May 2019)
A fantastic few days in the Eternal City, Rome.
The apartment we were staying in, on Via della Tribuna di Tor dei Specchi, was incredibly central, right beside Capitoline Hill. I loved the spiral staircase that lead up to my bedroom. The exposed beams looked great while also being somewhat worrying.
Most mornings we had breakfast in a little cafe around the corner, with delicious cappuccinos and cornetti (Italian croissants).
The area around here was so full of interest and colour, especially when the sun eventually came out.
This version of The Last Supper, in a little church near the Forum, really made me laugh. Judas doesn't look at all happy.
Yep, we're definitely in Rome. Very Fleabag.
It's the Pantheon. In the rain. It basically didn't stop raining the first day we were in Rome. I really could have done with one of those waterproof ponchos.
When it rains the water just falls through the oculus (hole) at the top of the Pantheon so it can get pretty wet inside.
But the next day the sun came out and the weather was glorious. This was the Pantheon again, with sunlight streaming though the oculus.
We had a really lovely breakfast sitting on a sofa outside a hip cafe in Campo de' Fiori in the sunshine. The market here had lots of condiments in some interestingly-shaped bottles...
How to get your washing dry in Rome...
This is the house in which the poet John Keats died (of tuberculosis) in 1821, aged just 25. It’s right beside the Spanish Steps - you can see them out the window - and it was strange being in such a sombre place reading about the fate of the Romantic poets (Shelley drowned, Byron died of fever in Greece) with the sounds of merry life and sunshine just beyond.
When the sun was shining the back streets in Rome really came alive with colour.
This was probably my favourite church, the Church of the Gesù, the mother church of the Jesuits. It was incredibly ornate inside. The first picture above shows a mirror that reflects the ceiling for easier viewing.
In this chapel in the Jesuit church a painting is raised up to reveal the statue of St. Ignatius behind. We arrived by total coincidence just as the painting was being raised.
The St. Ignatius Chapel also hosts the restored macchina barocca or conversion machine of Andrea Pozzo. During daytime the statue of St. Ignatius is hidden behind a large painting, but every day at 17.30 loud religious music is played and the painting slides away in the floor, revealing the statue, with large spotlights switched on to show the piece.
The wonderfully grandiose Victor Emmanuel II monument (or The Wedding Cake, as it's known by the locals). Apparently many Romans hate it, but I was quite taken by it. In the last picture the construction workers are sitting inside the giant horse you can see in the previous picture.
At the end of our second day we had pizza in a little place near the Colosseum; the Colosseum itself looked wonderful, all lit up as we walked past (probably better than during the day).
Outside the little Pizzeria; it seemed to have its own statue of Padre Pio, complete with neon border.
On our third day we went to see the Forum - this was on the way there. The guy dancing was a bit like the Dancing Priest in Father Ted but he was actually pretty good and clearly had very flexible joints.
Walking around the impressive ruins on Palatine Hill and the Forum.
The House of the Vestal Virgins in the Forum.
I thought this recently excavated bust looked incredibly modern.
In the church Saint Peter in Chains - this reliquary is supposed to hold the chains used to imprison St. Peter in Jerusalem and Rome.
Food in a not-particularly-good trattoria on our last night (though I quite enjoyed my fried zucchini flowers, a typical Roman dish). We’d seen a terribly bent little man walking down the street on the way, and it was a complete surprise when he came in, sat down and started playing, very bright-eyed despite his handicap. He moves around the cafes picking up tips, apparently.
Photo Credit: Dnalor_01, Source (Wikimedia Commons) , license (CC-BY-SA 3.0)
An unexpected highlight of the trip was on the last day, when we visited the Capuchin crypt at Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccino. I'd read about it and thought it sounded interesting but was unprepared for what we actually encountered.
It's one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen (no photographs allowed, unfortunately - the picture above is credited to Dnalor_01). The crypt consisted of six little chapels decorated with the bones of almost 4000 monks. There were full skeletons in monk’s habits, including one hanging off the ceiling. The lamps were made from assorted bones. Really amazing, but thought-provoking too. A placard in one of the crypts sums it all up:
What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be...
Even the Marquis de Sade was a bit disturbed when he visited, apparently.
This is the Wikipedia entry about the crypt:
A not-at-all sinister nun in the street, on the way to the Vatican.
St. Catharine's umbrella is broken (a bit like mine - I had to get a new one from a hawker outside the Pantheon) - but the rain was over now, anyway.
This wonderful fountain was on the street leading up to the Vatican.
Cats in a cat sanctuary, apparently right beside the spot where Caesar was assassinated. Et Tu, Kitty!
I loved Rome (when the sun came out, anyway) . It's a wonderful city to just wander around the streets and see what you encounter - probably another amazing church or ancient ruin.
I did have a coin to throw in the Trevi fountain but got sidetracked and never did - but I still think I'l be back.