Sunday, 10 February 2013

SABINA TRAVELOGUE PART 21 - April 10 & 11 - Roma

Tonight is our only overnight stay in Rome. We are meeting our friends Trish, Steve and Ken somewhere near Santa Maria Maggiore for dinner. Tomorrow, hopefully we will make it to the Capitoline Museum. I would also like to see Santa Prassede church. 

I have to run. Candace and Richard a waiting below at the bar/ bus stop.

We boarded the 13:15 bus to Poggio Mirteto Scalo. We of course love Rome and our friends in Rome, but I have to say it is hard to leave the Sabina, even for such a happy occasion... We are leaving Casperia next Sunday and each hour here in the countryside is precious... How are we ever going to leave this place? : (

Photo of Olive Trees and Poppies courtesy of Rachel Wheatley

At this time of year, the wild Roman poppies are particularly beautiful and there are huge bright crimson swathes at them growing along the train tracks that brighten and beautify even the ugliest graffiti covered train station. 

At Trastevere Station we boarded the Number 3 bus and took it to the Circus Maximus, then walked along the south slope of the Palatine Hill towards the Forum Boarum where Candace had a hotel for the night. 

Ruins of the Circus Maximus

Ruins of the Circus Maximus
Her hotel, the Palazzo Velabro, is on Via Velabro right beside the Arch of Janus and the San Giorgio in VelabroChurch which Richard and I visited on our last visit to Rome three years ago. There is a picture of this church framed on our living room wall. 


The hotel is within walking distance to the Jewish ghetto, the Theatre of Marcellus, the Capitoline and is just a hop skip and a jump from Santa Maria in Cosmedin Church with its famous Bocca della Verità

Bocca della Verità courtesy of Wikipedia

Our interest was in visiting the Capitoline Museum in the free time we had before dinner. The Capitoline is of course the site of the main religious complex of ancient Rome including the Temple of Jupiter and the Temple of Juno Moneta (the site of ancient Rome's mint) from which we get our words money, monetary, and mint, as well as the less than holy Tarpeian Rock

The current museum is located in a series of three connected renaissance palazzi built on top of the site of the Temple of Jupiter. Michelangelo designed the palazzi, the monumental square and steps leading up to the site.

A copy of the famous bronze statue of the emperor Marcus Aurelius dominates the piazza.

One of my favourite Roman churches, Santa Maria in Aracoeli is beside the museum just behind Mussolini's fascist era Altare della Patria or Victor Emmanuele Monument. 

There is a great show going on now at the museum called Lux in Arcana which show cases original documents from the Vatican Library, including letters from Galileo, Erasmus, Marie Antoinette, Abraham Lincoln, the Emperor of Japan, and a letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the English parliament asking the Pope to annul Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

The Vatican in the distance from one of the windows of the Capitoline Museum

This was all amazing and fascinating, and I am very glad that I got to see them, but what I really wanted to see were the original Greek, and ancient Roman marble and bronze statues. The Capitoline collection is the result of centuries of Popes and other church prelates appropriating the best of what could be 'relocated ' from the ruins of various temples, houses, villas, and hortae in and around Rome. The collection is totally mind-boggling in its size and scope. You really need a couple of days to see everything on display and even then, that might not be enough for the serious Romaphile.

This is the original equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius rescued from the Tiber

Romulus and Remus and the She Wolf

Original foundations of the Templeof Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill

Richard and some armless guy...

Statue of Cola di Rienzo. There is a street in Casperia named after him

Sta Maria in Aracoeli and the Altare della Patria

Random Canadian tourist pretending he is an ancient Roman

The Theatre of Marcellus and Rome's Jewish Synagogue

The Arch of Janus near the Palazzo Velabro

After our visit to the museum we made our way back along the foot of the Palatine Hill and met ourt friend Steve in front of the FAO office near the Circus Maximus. We then bussed it back to his apartment on the Via Merulana, a street which links San Giovanni in Laterano Basilica and Santa Maria Maggiore Church. We had a drink with Steve and Ken before walking down to a great seafood restaurant called I Buoni Amici on via Aleardo Aleardi where we met Steve's co-worker Trish. The food was absolutely amazing. My new discovery is something called moscardini which is like calamari, but instead of it being squid, it is deep fried baby octopus. Delicious!

Moscardini Fritti image courtesy of Browsing Rome

We had a great time catching up with Trish whom we had met three years ago on the last night of our trip to Italy. She had hosted Candace and Richard and I to an amazing dinner and was responsible for introducing us to our friends Aldo and Norman.

After dinner, Candace made it back to her hotel and we headed back to Steve and Ken's apartment where we stayed overnight.

The following morning we got up and made our way to a number of churches before heading out of Rome back to the Sabina. One of my main goals this time in Rome was to see Santa Prassede church which is close to Santa Maria Maggiore and contains the transferred remains of hundreds of saints, martyrs, virgins and Popes from the catacombs. The Carolingian era mosaics are amazing.

Santa Prassede's nave courtesy of Sacred Destinations

We saw our first serious relic there. They have the stone post to which Jesus was tied when he was flagellated before his crucifixion on display there... 

We then visited San Martino ai Monti which was definitely pretty, but a little too renaissance for my tastes. I prefer older, medieval or Romanesque churches. 

We then went to see Santa Maria Maggiore. This is a huge basilica dedicated to the Virgin. It is so impressive, it actually makes the tourists inside walk around quietly. It has some great mosaics in the apse, but I have to say my favourite things to see in the church are the Cosmati floors. The multicoloured marble inlays in intricate patterns are just stunning.

After all these churches we headed into Upim to do a bit of shopping. Ever since we had arrived in Rome we had thought we might buy some scarves so we did...

We then headed toward the Colosseo to look for a place to eat lunch. 

Richard's new scarf bought at Upim

Enroute we saw San Pietro in Vincoli with its famous Michelangelo statue of Moses. It was closed the first time we tried to visit it a number of years ago and unfortunately it was closed again today.  Bad timing on our part, I guess. 

We made it to the Colosseo and looked around for a restaurant we had eaten at three years ago... I had had my first tonnarelli caccio e pepe there and Richard had had these amazing gnocchi. Sadly it too was closed. We found another place and had a pretty good lunch, but it was not a photo taking event...

We eventually boarded the Number 3 bus back to Trastevere station and then boarded a train to Poggio Mirteto just as the skies opened and gave Rome a good washing.

Monte Soratte from Friends Caffe in Casperia, by James Johnstone

At Casperia we had a brief meeting with Stefano and Nicoleta at Friend's Caffe to discuss our plans for Thursday... a visit to the Roman amphitheatre at the ancient Sabine and Roman city of Trebula Mutuesca and cave exploring at Grotto Grande in Monteleone Sabino... 

With a meeting time settled and a Negroni under our belts we trudged happily up the steps to Il Sogno where I made fusilli with wild asparagus and some fish for dinner. We did a couple of loads of laundry and I made a frittata for our early breakfast. Tomorrow we have a date with some bats!

Photo courtesy of Stefano Aperio Bella

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