Friday, 24 May 2013

We found the crowds

The plan today was to get to Tivoli (on our second try). The best laid plans...

We took the Metro A line to the Termini metro station this morning, and found the B Metro line shut for no apparent reason. To get to Tivoli, we needed to take the B line to basically its end. Without the B line, there's no way to get out that far by bus. So we were "stranded" at Termini, without a bus map, and without any plan for the day.

In the end, we decided to "hang out" in the Esqualine and Quirinale neighbourhoods and visit a few churches I have always wanted to see. On the way, we ran into some sort of fancy military ceremony going on at the Argentine embassy...
After the band played
...the museum of Oriental art...
Not Oriental. The courtyard.
...somewhat dilapidated fountains below the Domus Aurea...
Would have been nice in its time
...and the backside of the Colosseum.
Just kinda "there". At the end of the street.
We were heading to San Clemente church. Really not much to look at from the outside, and no photos were allowed inside. It was built in the 12th century. On top of another church that was built in 400 AD. Which was built on top of a Mithraic temple built in 200 AD, next to a Roman house built in 64 AD and a Roman Imperial building from the 1st century. So the church has a "basement" with another church in it, and a "sub-basement" full of older churches and houses. Apparently, it was easier to bury them and build on top than knock them down.
The plain courtyard
We spent too long looking for the entrance to a park for picnic lunch (Note: Rome has lots of parks. Finding them is one thing. Getting in is another matter).
What's in YOUR park?
We wandered over to San Giovanni in Laterano, better though of as "the back up to St. Peters", since's it's like the Pope's second house. It was the main papal residence until the Pope was exiled to France. Upon returning in the 14th century, the place was a mess, so the Pope moved to the Vatican (and stayed). This church is one of many that are technically part of the country of the Vatican, and not part of Italy.
The front door 
The side door
From the front door 
The Pope's chair. He has his own door, too.
All churches here have relics in them that make them special. This one has the heads of St. Peter and St. Paul.
Up in there apparently
The palace also houses the Lateran Treaty in which Mussolini gave country status to the Vatican. The front door came from the Senate House of the Roman Forum.
Itty bitty doors
Across the street is the staircase Christ supposedly walked down in Pontius Pilate's house after his trial. I'll have to believe them; we couldn't find it.

Next stop: Santa Maria Maggiori.
Another tiny intimate church
This one's Byzantine inside.
Box like
A side chapel 
A 200' long nave
Their relics? Well aside from the tombs of a couple of Popes (Paul V, Clement VII and others) and the famous architect, sculptor & designer Bernini (more on him later)...
Karen's version of star worship
...they have a thing that contains fragments from the crib of Christ...
In there, apparently
...and in the museum, they have a hair of the virgin Mary, and the arms of Saints Luke and Matthew.

We skipped another church that has the chains that bound St. Peter. Been there, saw that a few years ago. Once you've seen one 2,000 year old relic, you've seen them all.

Needing a break from all things spiritual, we walked back down through my "old neighbourhood" (Rioni Monte, where we stayed for a week several years ago), and past the Colosseum (again).
the more famous side with the traffic
We had hoped to walk along beside the Forum, but the sidewalks were closed as they're setting up a parade.
Trajan's Market blocked from view
Looks like the Stampede's coming.

We bailed from the crowds in the Forum/Colosseum area, walking up the Quirinale Hill past the leaning tower...
The Torre delle Melizie. 12th century
...and past the sterile Palazzo del Quirinale, the Italian President's House.
Not supposed to be a tourist draw, I guess.
We had seen crowds and organized tour groups being led by people with umbrellas all day, at every major church, and in many piazza. But nothing like this: I give you...
The Trevi Fountain 
More crowds 
Even more crowds 
And more crowds 
Elbowing, pushing, shoving, stand on you crowds 
They get more packed the closer you get to the fountain
All for this:
It's a nice fountain, but really
My goodness. There are a lot of nice fountains in Rome. This one's not even one of Bernini's best. It's nice, but please.

We had to get out of there. We had to go home and eat pizza. Not as good as Naples or Sorrento by any stretch, but OK.

The Metro B line looked like it had just re-opened at 4 PM when we got off the A line on our way home. We're going to try for Tivoli a 3rd time tomorrow. Here's hoping...

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