May 23 – 30
After a very pleasant drive north from Salerno, we easily found our new Airbnb apartment, as well as a very convenient parking place in front of the building. Our host had grown up in this apartment and when the parents gave it to him and his sister, they turned it into a business. We were very comfortable, with plenty of room and certainly enjoyed the view!
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ROME
Following a Fodor’s self-guided walking tour, we set off the next day for the nearest metro station, a 10 min walk away. Quickly we figured out the system and were on our way.
Passing the Museum and Piazza Venezia, we headed toward Piazza della Minerva and…..
The obelisk stands in front of the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, which despite it’s Renaissance facade, has a beautiful Gothic interior.
Just a hop and skip away is one of my favorite places in all of Rome.
But on the way, performers vie for our attention…….
Entering through these huge doors, one finds one’s self in this enormous circular room gazing up and up …
..at the domed ceiling one has always heard about. It is one of ancient Rome’s best preserved buildings, dating back to AD 125. Many art students were scattered around drawing and sketching different parts of the interior. I don’t think I could ever tire of looking at it and would love to return in the evening to see it lit.
After just a few hours of touring Rome, I started to realize just how impressive the city really is; there are ancient statues, buildings, ruins everywhere – and that is not an exaggeration!
THE FOUR RIVERS FOUNTAIN by Bernini
For lunch we stopped at this delightful cafe for a light bite to eat.
The Jewish ghetto is quite small and had some renovations going on, so I didn’t take many pictures. An interesting point I remember, is that Roman Jews came directly from Palestine, unlike the Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews.
We found ourselves beside the Tiber River, so decided to stroll along side it….
….admiring the bridges and found some sights we were not aware of.
I had not heard about these massive murals, so had to go back and read about them,
Some sights do not changed over the centuries!
Watching this trash bop up and down and around at the base of a small waterfall gave me an opportunity to rest my aching feet – the blisters I had developed the week before (“Southern Italy” ) were starting to really bother me.
And then out of nowhere, we stumbled on a movie or recording of some kind.
There was no music, just a lot of drama with him swaying back and forth as though he were playing.
I can’t remember the name of this beautiful church, but it was there so we popped in and sat down. So serene….
…and then we returned on the metro to our “home”.
The next day we followed the Fodor’s walk through Trastervere, one of the quieter suburbs of Rome. I was also plagued with a smudge on my lens. Sorry!
Very quaint and quieter than the other side of the river.
Cafés, trattoria and enotecas everywhere.
Before entering the church, one is impressed by the ancient plaques which once adorned tomb stones.
Right inside the door is this plaque commemorating the discovery of oil, which was thought to have miraculous properties because when lit, it provided light.
I think, out of all the churches we were able to visit, this was one of my favorites.
The mosaic floors took 200 years to complete.
Outside some young girls were eager to enter – perhaps an after school music/art lesson?
The Nasoni – Rome’s water fountains.
We filled our water bottles whenever we had the chance, enjoying the wonderful cold, mineral-rich tasting water.
We had done some serious walking these first two days, walking about 8 miles, 14 kms/day and my feet were really hurting.
So I hobbled home to soak my feet. I knew tomorrow we would be covering a lot of territory.
The lobby leading to the Vatican Museums.
We had booked our tickets on line to tour the Vatican, St Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum and the Forum. We joined our group, passing long lines of people that were camped out to buy tickets.
As we joined the throngs of people passing through, our guide moved us from one amazing room filled with art to another. Far too quickly to really absorb the information.
The abundance of beautiful artwork was overwhelming, especially since we could not really stop and absorb and ponder it’s importance.
With the throngs of crowds, it was hard to get a clear shot of anything without a head getting in the way!
This depicts a decisive battle which Constantine won, attributing his success to God and he later became a Christian.
And you know, I saw that man again……he looked worried. Perhaps because he couldn’t find me??
Dignitaries are brought up these steps when they enter the Vatican, but they were cordoned off to us mere mortals!
Viewing Michelangelo’s masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel was much anticipated. We had not expected to be packed in like sardines or to be rushed through, but we tried to absorb the visual feast the best we we could. And of course, no pictures were allowed.
ST PETER’S BASILICA
The balcony from which the Pope addresses the faithful.
I was really taken aback by it’s enormity and truly felt that I was in the house of God.
What an incredible masterpiece.
The dome was spectacular.
People are dwarfed by the enormity of the structure.
There was a service progress in the front of the Basilica.
An interesting video.
I don’t know whether these chairs were left out for Sunday services or whether they were there for some specific occasion.
After a quick bite to eat we made our way to the appointed spot to meet up with our next guide. And she was excellent. But oh, my feet were hurting!
I show these depictions in large form so that one can really get an idea of what life was like back in A.D. 80
We have all seen these pictures, but to see it in reality was amazing. Also, to know what had gone on here was awful. However, when we asked about Christians being “thrown to the wild animals”, our guide assured us that that did not occur here. Interesting!
The cross was erected under Constantine’s rule
Another glimpse of Rome’s exemplary architecture.
Through these windows we got a glimpse of the Forum we would visiting next.
This shows clearly the 3 “layers” of the structure, which were damaged sometime during an earthquake, typical to Italy.
Having heard all my life the story of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, seeing this gate and reading the inscription brought it all to life for me.
On the top left of the photo, one can see small figures. We were led there, to take in a spectacular view. The Forum
And we tried to take in what it must have been like, “back in the day….”
In the foreground, the palace of the Vestal Virgins.
Looking back at the Colosseum.
A 1000 yr old copper door!
The Vestal Virgins
But it was time to go back and soak my poor footsies again.
We had covered so much of the city and walked to the point of becoming incapacitated (a slight exaggeration, but trying to get my point across……😀) so we rested Friday. We slept in and did laundry (always a new experience whenever we move to a new place) and took things easy.
Some great Roman pizza just downstairs.
There were at least three places we still wanted to see…….
The Trevi Fountain, which was difficult to see because of the crowds………
And the Spanish Steps ….
…which were under renovation and not accessible.
We moved on to the Bone Church….
…. where 3700 skeletons decorate the walls of 5 small chapels. Femurs, hip bones, vertebrae, skulls – all have been arranged in various ways to create something verging on “beautiful”!
“As you are, we once were. As we are, you shall be one day.”
Hmmm….. We were now ready for some greenery and the charms of a park, so we went to Villa Borghese and walked around the park and enjoyed the garden before returning as the evening wore on.
The National Museum of Rome from a different perspective.
On Sunday, the day before we were to leave Rome, we packed & cleaned up. Then, knowing we needed to reserve a place to eat, we consulted TripAdvisor. We chose #1 on the list, which proved to be both delectable and inexpensive; a “hole in the wall” kind of place! With a capacity of only 10-12 seats we were able to get a reservation (Sunday lunch is the busiest time of the week for restaurants, when families come together over a good meal).
We were not disappointed. After sharing an appetizer of smoked salmon salad, I had the homemade ravioli of spinach and ricotta, with a walnut, cream sauce. HEAVEN!
There was still so much we had not seen in Rome, so, we’ll have to come back……….
As we took our luggage to the car that last morning, I looked up at a display of antennae we had been passing every day. This morning, it looked like an art exhibit!
Next stop – Toscana!