Today being Sunday, it was primary in our minds to find a church. It being Rome, we figured you couldn’t throw a stone without hitting a Catholic church.
Well, true enough–but if you’re in the wrong place, that church may well have been turned into a museum, as we were to learn.
We walked past St.Maria Maggiore again–it’s even more incredibly massive in the daylight–
and headed toward where Paul thought he and Joe had attended Mass eleven years ago. Well, being as to how we have a penchant for walking into the lesser-known streets, we soon found ourselves near the Roman Forum and other Roman ruins.
I kept hearing church bells, but none of the cross-topped buildings we passed by had anything churchish going on.
Around 9am, we finally decided to get serious about finding one. It’s really easy to get distracted here.
Not too far from the Spanish Steps, we found our quarry. Well, a working church, at least. And we were just in time for their 9:30 Mass!
Of course it was all in Italian, but the layout’s the same worldwide. I could mutter the prayers in English under my breath at the appropriate times.
The interior of the church was a real distraction, with its ornate pictures, frescoes, and statues. But we carried on as best as we could. I guess when someone grows up around this fantastic grandeur it becomes second nature–I’d hate to be immune to the incredible beauty around me. (Rather like living in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains–how does someone become inured to that kind of beauty?)
Note: for whatever reason, the Italian militia had a presence outside this church. I saw something about the crucifix inside being miraculous–I’ll have to look that up.
Okay–maybe this is it. I really don’t know:
Once we left there, we found that we had been fishing in the wrong pond earlier, as it were–a city block later, we found a church with a Mass in English. Not far from there was one with a Spanish Mass. And on and on.
From that area we went to the Pantheon, which was closed until 12pm due to…Sunday Mass…
Gotta say, I was surprised. I was not aware that the building had been Christianized. Shouldn’t have been much of a surprise, but it was.
With that stricken from our plans for the time being, we decided to check out the Trevi Fountain. I think we got back on the Metro to travel to this one.
- Italian men are GORGEOUS! Ladies are very pretty too.
2. Afternoon naps are wonderful. I’m looking forward to today’s already.
Okay–back to the day’s activities. Where was I?
Oh, right–Trevi Fountain.
Again, much different from when it was being renovated two years ago. A lot more people around too. Getting close to the fountain itself took some chutzpah and not just a little luck.
The light was exactly wrong for a good picture where we ended up (at least for what we wanted), which resulted in us fighting (semi-politely) for another spot on the other end of the fountain. Getting good pictures of the fountain itself wasn’t the problem–we had one of those rare instances where we wanted to get shots of ourselves in front of it. That’s where the problem came in. While on vacation, we usually try to keep people out of our pictures, including ourselves. Now we were trying to change it up.
So here we are.
We fought our way out of the crowds (nicely–we are civilized, after all, and there were stairs involved), and took the Metro to the area where the Colosseum and such were located.
AND…the crowds were in abundance. Well, it was the weekend and a lovely day at that, so could they be blamed?
After waiting for a few minutes in the ticket line, we decided to give it a pass until another day. We still had plenty of time before we had to go home.
There’s been a…thing…some sculpture, or something, planted beside the Colosseum. I suppose it’s art–but it doesn’t enhance, it doesn’t support, and it doesn’t agree with anything around it. I am not too surprised that neither of us took a picture of it. Some sort of gigantic thing that kind of looks like a pomegranate–total waste of space, as far as we were concerned. Look it up if you’re interested–we were totally underwhelmed.
Well, enough of that.
We wandered around to take in what we could see for free, and took lots of pictures. Those will be posted later–when we could actually get in to take pictures of those edifices close up.
This was where we saw most of the Beggars’ Union–or so it seemed.
These people cannot be believed. They’re all old ladies – maybe. (Wh0 can tell?) They’re dressed the same, they’re all hunched over and carrying a cane, and their donation cups are all the same size. Their behavior is also carbon-copy–shake the cup, mumble something, shake the cup.
There was one, earlier in the day, who did her (?) best to shove her cup under my nose when I ignored her. Talk about chutzpah!!
As mentioned before, there are a LOT of churches near the Forum. It’s interesting to see just how many buildings around this area have incorporated some of the ancient Roman edifices into their own structure.
Several churches sat cheek-by-jowl with ancient columns and stoas. We went into one of them–a place that sat on the very edge of the Forum area.
This looks like a little telephone box to me. Hmmm–so they have God’s phone number? Cool!
As with a lot of European churches, there were burial plots in the floor. This one was just at the entrance–have to wonder why anyone would want to be buried as a doormat.
Ceilings are always a big deal in churches. If the sermon’s boring, you still have something to keep you busy.
We then hiked over to the Circus Maximus, which is really no more than a large park anymore. There are a few ruins at one end, but for the most part it looks like one big greensward.
We had to go down a number of stone steps, then we walked the length of the Circus. There were a few people, and a number of very happy dogs sniffing everything and running around (the dogs, not the people). So–your average park.
We wandered a lot of streets, through areas populated and some not so much. Everywhere we went, there was something new and fascinating to see. Some had explanations as to their history–
–any many didn’t.
(Actually, it’s not that they didn’t have descriptions–it’s just that we didn’t take the time to take pictures of the signs.)
This is what we love about visiting foreign places–wandering the streets and seeing what the natives see on a regular basis.
I can’t even map all the streets we walked. There were shortcuts, workarounds, backtracking–just a follow-our-noses walking adventure. We went through an indoor farmers’ market, crowded with residents and tourists all vying for counter space at stalls of every kind–leather goods, meats, vegetables, tourist trinkets, baked goods, etc. We got through the phalanx back to the outside world, only to find that there was no exit off the property at that end. Back through the gauntlet–phew! Fascinating place, that market, but way too peopled for my comfort.
We went here next:
This is a cat sanctuary–Roman law forbids killing feral cats. They get nipped and clipped and sent here to live out their lives. I like that idea.
This was a place Paul and Joe visited eleven years ago–looks like there’s still a good number of kitties enjoying their lives here. It was fun trying to see how many we could find.
After that, we passed through the area known as the “Jewish Ghetto”–apparently no one seems to be bothered by that name. I didn’t know that this is what it was called, but I knew it was definitely Judaic in nature. Lots of kosher restaurants and men dressed in the traditional Orthodox Jewish tradition.
Then it was back to the Pantheon. We got in line (“I hope that the ride’s good at the end of this line” is something I thought of a lot during this trip), which moved pretty fast, and were finally able to get inside.
Vast, majestic, soaring–and noisy! Every once in a while, a recording in several languages would admonish the crowds to quiet down (because it was, after all, a sacred place). Didn’t work so well.
After the picture-taking and the gawking was done, we made our way back to the hotel. It had been a really long day, which meant another afternoon nap and a late al fresco dinner.
Tomorrow–our foray into Florence.