Thursday, July 28, 2011

Four score... about how many years you'd need to stay in Rome to even begin to see all there is to see in the Eternal City.  Churches, piazzas, museums...oh my!  I must confess Rome doesn't capture my heart and soul the way Florence does, but I still find it fascinating and could easily spend months here.  We had a time trying to decide what to do today!  There are sooo many options, it gets easy to overdo it.  Which is something we want to avoid.  We decided to check out San Giovanni in Laterano and Santa Maria Maggiore, since both are close to metro stations on the same line as the station near our apartment.  We had bought Roma passes, so our fare was covered.  Such a convenient way to travel!  We don't have subways in Nova Scotia, so it is a bit of a treat for me (a sometimes crowded, loud, smelly, pushy experience, but...still a treat!)

Mom and I were both awed by San Giovanni. Well first we were awed by the old city walls and then by the church itself.

The bronze front doors were massive.  I think Mom read that they are only opened in Jubilee years.  This church is the seat of the Pope when he is in Bishop of Rome mode, so the jubilee thing makes sense, as the big doors in honour of the Pope at the Vatican are also only opened in Jubiless years.  I couldn't resist getting mom to snap a photo of me knocking on the door...
The mosaics were spectacular, so intricate and they glowed wherever the light hit them (the natural light from the windows...there were no artificial lights on.)  For some reason, I found myself fascinated with the marble patterns of the floor.  They were also very intricate and beautiful.  Plus one was pretty'll know the one of which I speak as you scroll down, I'm sure!

We also visited the cloister, although disappointed that it was under restoration so it didn't have that serene place of refuge atmosphere of other cloisters I have been visited.  It did have a beautiful sketch - Raphael's Alba Madonna - as well as some lovely tapestries (some not so the one depicting  St. John the Evangelist being boiled alive. Yikes, gruesome stuff!

When we left San Giovanni, it began to matter, we hopped on the bus and rode down the the Colosseum area to have lunch. There is no hope of getting the full Colosseum in one photo, so I didn't even try! But I like this shot...

We wanted to revisit a trattoria we ate at regularly when last in Rome, but it was closed so we went to Divin Ostilia Enoteca instead.  My ravioli ricotta e spinaci in salsa rosa was uber tasty, as was Mom's lasagna al ragu bolognese.  A half bottle of Cesanese del Piglio (their red house wine), followed by an espresso, rounded out our meal.

 Playing with the camera and my wine glass!  What better time to be silly than when sitting in a wine bar in Rome on a rainy afternoon...
Here I am wearing my new piece of jewelry.  I have never seen a fish necklace in silver...have seen any number and style of crosses and doves, but never a fish.  I saw it.  I wanted it.  I bought it!  I LOVE IT!! :)  Put it right on my chain with the little silver cross Dave gave me years ago, not too long after I started going to church.

After lunch, we rode the Metro over to see Santa Maria Maggiore.  Similar to Santa Maria in Trastevere and Santissima Annunziata in Florence, the piazza had a worn and sketchy feel, but I still loved the atmosphere.

The mosaics here were incredible. How incredible were they? you ask. So incredible that I paid to light them up for a photo op!  Alas you do not get the benefit of this glorious sight, because the good pics are on Mom's camera and so I cannot yet share them on my blog.  The business of charging to light up the apse or side chapels in Italy was a practice that used to seem so petty and cheesy to me, until...I got thinking about the staggering volume of tourists passing through these places and the fact that most don't leave an offering or otherwise contribute to the upkeep of the churches and well, someone has to pay for the lights to be on!  I know the Roman Catholic church as a corporate body is wealthy beyond imagining, but I don't necessarily think that wealth trickles down to individual parishes.  I am sure those face the same economic realities as the rest of us.  Also, lighting these treasures really is only for the purposes of photo ops...anyone is welcome to come into the church for free and just enjoy the space, or sit in a quiet side chapel and pray.  San Giovanni had one chapel closed off with glass doors and a big sign indicating "silence, no photos" where people can go to pray in peace and quiet.  As tourists, I think we often forget that these are, in fact, active churches with parishioners who come to worship and pray, and not just gawk at the art!  When I was in the side chapel praying, I also tried to imagine how it would feel to have great masses of tourist chatting all around me, snapping photos etc, in my home church...I think it would be difficult to get into a prayerful state of being in the midst of all that hustle and bustle.

And after viewing these two magnificent churches today, we were ready for something that didn't engage our brains so we rode the metro over to Spagna and joined the horde on the steps for a little while.  It was great to see S. Trinita a Monte (or something like that) at the top of the steps...last time we were in Rome, it was covered in scaffolding.  What a beautiful church!  Eventually we gathered ourselves up and returned to the apartment, stopping into the Bila to pick up a tub of gelato for our dessert - a chocolate and hazelnut concoction made by Baci of Perugia - delicious!

Our evening was also filled with connections with loved ones back home.  I popped onto facebook as we were sipping a glass of Prosecco and Valerie happened to pop on at same time, so we switched over to skype and had a wonderful conversation!  Although hopefully she will get her video working for next time - she could see us, but we couldn't see her.  Almost as soon as we hung up from Val, Sara came on skype, so we had a great chat with her too - and her video was working, so it truly was a face to face conversation.  (And we got to say hi to Jake, and also see the kittens!)  Dave came on an hour or so later, so we were able to catch up as well.  I love skype!  Not sure how Bell etc manage to maintain any business when they charge such exorbitant rates for international phone calls...who would pay their rates when you can skype for free?  Not me!  Then a bit later, Lynn was on Facebook so I got to have a chat with her too!  And hinted strongly that she needs to get skype so we can have a face to face next week when Mom and I are in Cetona! :)  What are the odds of (almost) all my people being online the same evening as we were online from Rome - what a marvellous coincidence!!!  Now if only I could manage to connect with my baby girl, Moira, all would be  perfect!  We've texted a bit, but haven't been online at the same time yet.  Soon though, I'm sure.


sandrac said...

Anne, I love that photo of you in front of the grand doors of San Giovanni -- it really conveys the massiveness of the place!!! It's too bad about the cloisters, however; I think they're so lovely and serene.

Anonymous said...

What is the attraction with the Spanish Steps? I always see the crowds and wonder what they could possibly be doing there? ARGH

On our first trip to Rome we were near San Giovanni in Laterano. It was mom's favourite trip and she popped by daily.

Trekcapri said...

Hi Anne, that's a beautiful silver fish jewerly. Very cool. Your photos are beautiful. The one with you and that huge door reminds me for some reason of that scene in the Wizard of Oz, but Rome is no storybook fantasy. It is filled with so much history and its fun learning about some great places that I have yet to visit by reading your blog.

Thank you so much for sharing.... Keep on having fun.

Anne said...

I thought so too, Sandra. It really is hard to convey the size of these places. I've no doubt we'll encounter some serene cloisters somewhere in Tuscany or Umbria!

Jerry - it's a bit of a mystery, I agree. But then again...I have gone thrice myself to see the sweeping steps in my two visits to Rome, so evidently there is "something" about them that appeals to me! :)

TC, I am absolutely delighted with my fish. I have never seen one like it, it is so like my cross in style, they look like a matching set. LOL about the Wizard of Oz, too funny!

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