Holy hell, we’re in Rome.
We were joking about just saying that and ending the day’s update there, but we thought that would be mean to all of you reading who might want to know what we actually did today. On the other hand, “we’re in Rome” really says it all.
We woke up early and headed for the train station in Bologna. it was a two-hour train ride to Rome. It was foggy, and we went through a lot of tunnels, but it was still a nice trip.
Once we got to Rome, though, the adventure really began. The apartment rental agency gave us directions to the apartment via bus, but they instructed us to get off at a stop that didn’t exist. The bus system here is challenging, but we managed ok. We finally got to the right area, and almost stumbled upon our apartment.
We met up with the apartment owner’s representative, and hauled our luggage up three flights of rough stone stairs to a really lovely apartment. It has tile floors, exposed ceiling beams, and has a pretty rustic look. I’ve attached a picture.
We got settled, then headed out to get lost in Rome. We had fantastic sandwiches at a little hole-in-the wall, they’re not like American paninis, more like regular sandwiches warmed in a sandwich press.
We have a number of books with tours and stuff, so we selected a tour of “Roman tombs, legends, and artists” as a starting point for our afternoon. This turned out to be great, since it gave us a specific path to follow through Rome’s winding streets.
Before I continue, I just have to note: Milan was elegant, Bologna was laid back, but Rome is crazy. Crossing the street is always an adventure, the streets are labyrinthine, and there’s so much more to see than is on any of our maps.
We started at the Castel Sant’Angelo to see the site of Hadrian’s tomb. We love climbing things, so we walked up to the top terrace of the Castel which has a spectacular panoramic view of Rome.
We saw the mausoleum of Augustus from the outside, then took a little detour to see the Ara Pacis altar. The museum was also showing an exhibition of photographs of Italian industry from the last 100 years. It was interesting.
We took pictures of statues embedded in the wall of the building that had been sculptor Antonio Canova’s studio.
We visited the Piazza del Popplo, and I’ve attached a picture of the obelisk in the middle. (BTW, look at the sky, it’s clear beautiful blue, the weather is excellent)
On the way to the Spanish Steps, we visited the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, a little museum devoted to Keats, Shelley and other English poets who hung out in Rome. it’s housed in the apartment where Percy Blythe Shelley died of tuberculosis. The highlight of the museum is his death mask.
The climbed the Spanish Steps which were packed with people. If we had come in the summer when it was 20 edges hotter and there were 10 times as many tourists, I think I would have wanted to turn around and go back to Milan. November has turned out to be a great time to visit Rome.
We ended the book’s suggested tour at the Capuchin Crypt, which is not too dissimilar from the ossuary at Kutna Hora we saw last year, except instead of plague victims, this one is made from the bones of Capuchin monks. including a few who were mummified in their skins and still dressed in their robes. It was creepy, but interesting.
The church of Santa Maria della Concezione that the crypt is attached to is also quite pretty. Outside, we struck up a brief conversation with father O’Sullivan from Philadelphia who was there with some of his parishioners. This lead to a funny and silly conversation about the difference between priests wearing cassocks and priests wearing Cossacks. It’s an important distinction.
By now the church of Santa Maria del Popolo in the Piazza del Popolo was open for the afternoon. We went in to see the spectacular art in the church, most notably two amazing Caravaggio’s. The church is simply packed with beautiful paintings.
We went looking for somewhere to eat, and found a nice little restaurant, where we had pizza and wine. we got a bottle of a kind of wine called Pinot Nero that neither of us were familiar with. It was tasty. We were discussing the history of Rome over dinner, and Elizabeth made a funny comment about how the original settlers of Rome were trying not to get eaten by the wolves that raised them.
On the way home from the restaurant, we stopped at a corner store to pick up a bottle of Italian beer to spit while planning the sights for tomorrow. We got it home, but then couldn’t figure out how to open it. I was trying to lever it open on the stone windowsill. Then Elizabeth finally found a corkscrew/bottle opener in the drawer under the television. (No, we don’t know why it was there either.)
For those of you keeping score at home, we walked 29,311 steps today. Not bad considering we spent two hours on a train this morning.
Elizabeth also insists I should mention that we found the BBC on the television, and today is the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.
Tomorrow’s big goal is to visit Palentine hill, the rest we are playing kind-of by ear. If you’re reading this, we have found wifi, but it has been surprisingly hard to find in Rome.