Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Rome Day 3

Our day started and ended in the rain. Regardless, being on vacation and having pre-purchased tickets, we set out in the late morning and made our way back over to the Colosseum area. Our tickets were for the Forum and we walked through it in a thunderstorm.

We walked over to Julius Caesar’s pyre. While at it we could see the flowers and other objects people had left in commemoration of his death, or maybe his life. Maybe both. Like I heard a tour guide say, “People leave flowers, photos, souvenirs and other things for him.”

We walked from one end of the Forum to the other, from the base of Capitol Hill to Titus’ Arch. We walked along the path Romans walked two thousand years ago.

The day before, we walked up onto Capitol Hill and came across an antique American car show. I saw a 1946 Packard touring car, a Cadillac from the 1950’s and several other beautifully restored American cars. The car show definitely jazzed up the piazza but did not deter from its antiquity.

On our way down the hill we stopped at a roadside vendor and picked up a few Panini to eat. It wasn’t until we got to the Capuchin crypt just off of Piazza Barberini a few hours later that Tim found he’d been slipped a counterfeit 20 euro bill by the guy. As a result, we all now know what a bogus bill looks like. We won’t get fooled twice on that one.

We decided, since it was raining so hard, to jump on the Metro, the subway, from the Colosseum to Piazza Barberini. Just up from the square was the Capuchin crypt and we wanted to see it, soaking wet or not.

It turned out to not be too difficult to figure out the subway. The hardest part was fighting the jostling and shoving of the line of people to get through the turnstile. The rest of it, starting on Line A and transferring to Line B was like being on the Red Line and transferring to the Orange line coming out of Downtown Crossing in Boston.

When we got to Piazza Barberini we went into a ristorante for lunch and to try to dry out for a little while before heading to the Crypt. It turned out to be a very expensive lunch: I think they saw us coming. Then again, we were in a fancier than fancy restaurant in an upscale part of town. Tim and Scott ordered a beer with lunch. The waitress said “una litre or midi?” They both said the former, not really knowing what that was, and got served a liter, about a quart, of beer in the biggest mugs any of us had ever seen.

Unsure of where we were, in the still pouring rain with Judy inclined to call a cab, we asked where the Capuchin Crypt was. It turned out to be almost across the street. We put our hoods up, re-opened the umbrellas and headed out. It was there, when Tim tried to purchase some post cards, that the clerk/doge/caretaker told him he had a bogus 20. She wouldn’t take it and very patiently and efficiently showed us the difference. A lesson learned for us all.

Another money lesson we’d learned the night before was to not exchange money at an exchange place. It is better, and cheaper, to change money at an ATM. At the ATM you only get charged a 1% fee. At the exchange places you get charged the 1% but then they charge you 6% on top of that for doing it.

It cost us a 2 euro donation to enter the Crypt where, about 500 years ago, 4,000 Capuchin monks had their bones made into the most awesome display ever. You really have to see it to believe it. Describing it is even more difficult. You went down along a hallway and on one side of it was the Crypt. Their bones were made into symmetrical designs that outlined the walls and ceiling. Rib bones formed to make hearts; pelvic saddles formed into pinwheels; skulls laid atop neatly stacked piles of femurs and tibias. Lower jawbones abutted to make circles. There were long lines of individual vertebrae that formed outlines of other designs. At one point Judy looked at a row of hip saddles that embraced the side of a wall and said that you could tell they were male pelvises as the hole in the center was narrow.

There were also maybe a dozen mummies in robes, some lying down and others standing, as if still alive. One was lying on his back with a large cross tucked into his knotted rope belt. There was a full skeleton, looking down, that had been cemented to the ceiling.

I guess, if you wanted to, you could say it was gruesome. More so, however, it was an incredibly artistic display that happened to have had human bones used as the medium.

Afterwards, wet, cold and tired, we decided to head back home. It took us a couple minutes and questioning of someone to get our bearings and then we were off. I saw what I thought was an underground passageway shortcut so we took it. It turned out to be a bookstore under the intersection. All we did was get across the street. Scott and Tim decided to go off on an adventure of their own so we parted ways.

Judy & I headed down the main drag, followed the signs to the Trevi Fountain, then to the cat sanctuary, down to the Ponte Garibaldi, across the River into Trastevere, our side of town. As we were walking along I noticed a plaque on the wall of a house that said “Casa Dante Aligheri.” Dante was the guy who wrote “Dante’s Inferno” about 400 years ago. Imagine that. We had just walked past where he had lived.

We got back to the ranch, changed into dry clothes, rested a bit and then went out for supper. Judy & I decided to stay on our side of the river so we walked around a little, the rain having abated but the weather turning decidedly cooler and found a side street restaurant. It was like being in the North End of Boston. We had a meal that, like the others we’ve had so far, couldn’t be beat. It was a good ending to a wet and soggy, though informative, day.


Post a Comment

<< Home