Accio Jacksons!

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November 24: One soggy day in Rome

by Rebecca on 2008-12-30

(I had a goal of finishing these posts by the end of this week, so here comes a whole lot of information about what we did in Rome.)

The morning of November 24, we disembarked our ship and said goodbye to our home for the last 10 days. We were some of the last people off of the ship, which was nice because we had time to eat breakfast and take showers without feeling terribly rushed. I was glad that we were spending more time in Rome, instead of flying straight back to the States like a lot of people. We shared a shuttle into the city with Tony and Amy. Their hotel was right by Trevi Fountain so they were dropped off first, and we said our goodbyes to them. Then the shuttle took us to our hotel, which was near Piazza Repubblica. We were most relieved to find that this hotel was far more comfortable than our first hotel in Rome, with a comfy bed, sofa and large bathroom.

We had a tour scheduled at 2, so we tried to kill time until then. We walked to the meeting place for the tour at Piazza Barberini and then decided to explore. We got lunch at a nearby pizzeria and then walked over to Trevi Fountain. I hadnʼt expected it to be so crowded at that time of year, but I guess it is a perennial draw for tourists in Rome! We found our tour guide without much trouble but we did have to wait for the rest of the group to gather. And it had started raining pretty hard by then. Darn rain in an open piazza — And our tour guide was a UT graduate who bought herself a one-way ticket to Rome after she graduated. Smart girl!

The tour was called “Crypts and Catacombs.” Cool, huh? I donʼt have many pictures of the places we went because photography was not allowed in two of the three sites. Anyway, our first stop was the Crypt of the Capuchin monks. These are a series of chapels that are decorated entirely with the bones and in a few cases, the well preserved bodies of Capuchin monks. (If you want to see what it looks like, hereʼs a YouTube tour of the crypt.) While the idea of using bones is admittedly unusual, the decorations were pretty impressive.

Our next stop took us via bus to the Catacombs of San Callisto. Again, no pictures, but if you want more information, this website has good information. This was probably the most interesting site for me to visit, since Iʼd never seen catacombs and had no idea what to expect. One common misconception about the catacombs is that they were used as Christian meeting places and hiding grounds during times of persecution. But after walking through part of them, Iʼm not sure why anyone would want to hang out there. They are dark, cramped, and very damp. And there are hundreds and hundreds of tombs, all empty now, of course, but once upon a time they would have been filled. Yikes. Several early popes were buried in these catacombs, and you can still see the tombs there today.

Our final stop on the tour was the church of San Clemente. I had been there before, but it was interesting to go back with a guide. The top level is a Catholic church built in the Renaissance. Underneath that church are the remains of an early Christian basilica. And the lowest level that has been excavated is the remains of a Roman temple to the eastern god Mithras and some Roman apartments. The site has effectively been labeled “sacred ground” for thousands of years and to different faiths. And our guide was careful to point out that the entire city of Rome was like that, where we could only see the top layer of history, with much left to be excavated.

And our tour ended there, so we took the Metro back to our hotel, which didnʼt do much to keep us dry because we still had to walk quite a way in the rain. We found dinner at a restaurant near our hotel and then called it a night. But we did find Dawsonʼs Creek on TV, the only English language show we could find. No wonder Europeans think Americans are nuts.