Wednesday, October 15, 2014

History Lasagna

Yesterday was another high-mileage (9.1), action-packed day! I started off with a stroll up ritzy Via Veneto to the Borghese Gardens while Damon took a break at the hotel. The gardens were beautiful, quite a pretty respite from the busy-ness and hardscape of the rest of the city. I enjoyed one of the best cappuccinos I've had on the entire trip at a small cafe in the gardens. It was fun to see the locals out walking their dogs and getting coffee - I miss my boys!

Dogs take a water break in Roman fountains

The cute cafe in the Borghese Gardens

The delicious cappuccino I got at the cafe ... yum!

Borghese Gardens

Instagrammed version

Bernini sculptures are all over in Rome

Then Damon and I went on a long but very fun walk to several of Rome's major sights: the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and Campo d'Fiori. The Pantheon was so cool to see, and the dome inside is quite impressive. I liked that it was a church open to all religions for worship - the Romans were very forward thinking in a lot of ways. Piazza Navona is a really big, pretty square where people go to people watch, eat at the many restaurants and cafes lining the square, and sit by the fountain. There are also lots of musicians and artists to check out there. We did a double-take at a "levitating man" street performer, a stunt that we hadn't seen before, he saw us checking him out and beckoned us over, so we gave him a couple of euros and Damon took my picture with him! Campo d'Fiori was neat too - it was set up with a market that we enjoyed strolling through.

Fountain near the Pantheon

The Pantheon

Damon with the massive pillars of the Pantheon

Looking up inside the Pantheon

Pretty Piazza Navona

Levitating man in Piazza Navona

We looked a little too long so we had to pay a few Euros for this picture!

The market in Campo d'Fiori

Pretty pottery at the market

All the Limoncello and other drinks at the market

When in Rome! Parking in an intersection is A-Ok!

Cute little dachshund!

In the afternoon we took a tour of Rome's Crypts and Catacombs which was one of the best experiences of our trip thus far! We couldn't take pictures inside the places we went to because they are so sacred, but they left quite an impression on us! The Catacombs we went to were a bit out of town, since it was against the law to bury people inside the city walls. Our tour guide was awesome and took us down 60 feet underground (nice break from the heat!) and through a maze of tunnels and rooms filled with niches where thousands of people had been buried. There were religious symbols, carvings, and ancient frescoes to marvel at as well. 

The next stop on the tour was at a church that was, as our guide said, like stepping into a time machine. I'd heard that Rome had been built up over the centuries and that basically all of Rome was built on rubble, but visiting this church (San Clemente) really drove it home for me! The top floor dated to the 1200s, then we descended to the level below which was from the 4th century AD then down one more level to the 1st century AD. At that point we were again 60 feet below ground level and were inside what they think used to be a factory or workshop to manufacture coins. The 1st century level was complete with a running stream and Roman alleys we got to walk through. It was nothing short of mind-blowing! And, there's another layer below where we were that they haven't excavated yet but they believe dates to a century or two BC. Our guide said that Rome is like "history lasagna" with all of the layers built on top of one another, which is a good analogy!

Inside San Clemente Church

The underground part of San Clemente Church ... so cool!

The oldest fresco in Italy! Apparently I was not supposed to take this picture ... Damon told me that after I took it. Oops!

Sacred area in San Clemente church. Another contraband picture on my part.

Our final stop was at the Capuchin Crypt. Again, no photos but look it up, it's amazing! The crypts are decorated with human bones in intricate designs and patterns. It almost doesn't seem real! The story behind the crypt was really interesting too, and we enjoyed learning about the history of St. Francis of Assisi. 

We wrapped up the day with a wonderful meal at a wine bar near the Spanish Steps. We think Seattle is dog-friendly, but here you can bring your dog to nice restaurants! A woman at the next table over had an adorable dog with her and we can't help ourselves from smiling and laughing at cute dog antics (he managed to get a lick of his owner's ice cream dessert)!

A wine we really enjoyed at the wine bar

Back of the bottle

Delicious dinner at the chic wine bar!

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