Incredible sights, from art to archaeology to church history
Saturday - Wednesday
Rome is where we begin our wandering paths on Europe's soil in 2022. So much history is fixed here, events we learned about (or should have) sometime during grammar school years. Romulus and Remus of legend, Catullus, Cicero, Julius Caesar and adopted heir Augustus, first-bishop Peter, pre-Stradivarius Nero, a whole catalog of Popes, famous and infamous.
Much of the history has its own mementos in the artifacts that are both carefully tended and explained — with a fun mixture of scholar's acuity and imaginative humor. For myself, it is again a conflict between sites with whole hordes of visitors, standing shoulder to shoulder with smartphones held aloft toward, say, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel ... between that scenario, as I say, and less-traveled paths through ruins with their own stories clutched between bricks held with Roman-invented mortar. Under the Colosseum (see below photo), that is, rather than revisiting its more calendar-page skyline.
There must be time to visit the Palatine Hill and ancient Roman Forum, to walk around and touch the old stones. To imagine and contemplate, to try to capture what visual/audio reminders as I may be able to — a video is under mental pre-construction even now.
And this ... I want to spend reflective time in the presence of shadows of my centuries-ago spiritual siblings. Not to get a shiver or buzz walking past a stash of old monks' bones piled high, as in some Capuchin-guarded ossuary, either. No, it's more just being
in the little rooms down there in the catacombs, where those faithful to Jesus assembled, where they buried their dead, declaring their certainty that even mighty (pre-Constantine) Rome did not have the final authority. Not on earth and certainly never in Heaven.
I like to show just the feel of the places we will inhabit as the days go by, while we're not out coping with Italian signs and odd traffic patterns and new sights — met while getting from here to way the heck south of this temporary neighborhood (as in bicycling on the Via Appia for several miles). This representative room is directly across the street from the massive Roma Termini rail station. Which sounds noisier than it is, because the incredibly busy entrance is over 100 yards away.
The much-photographed coliseum is a ten minute walk westward, and Trevi Fountain about the same distance more or less northerly. As for historical/beautiful churches, a few steps in any compass direction will offer several choices.