Rome II : A Historical Smorgasbord
Saturday, June 26
Today was focused solely on one thing: exploring Rome. Previously we had always come through Rome on the way to somewhere else - in a whirlwind and seen only a brief glimpse; today was meant as a start to remedying that.
To say that there is a lot to see and do in Rome (in terms of art, architecture and history) is to grossly underestimate how much there is. Rome has been an important and active center for over 2,500 years, and there is such a density of sites that it seems completely overwhelming. However, Pu's 'Best walks in Rome' guidebook, as it turned out, was an excellent resource for seeing and making sense of the densely tangled web of culture that is Rome.
Living Room of our apartment
The first order of business for us (well, after Pu had had his requisite cappucino) was to take another, longer look at the Pantheon. It was much quieter in the early morning, perfect for standing under the immense dome and admiring its workmanship.
From the Pantheon, we made our way southwestwards, and soon reached the Campo dei Fiori, a piazza that usually contains, in the mornings and afternoons, an open-air fruit and vegetable market. Also of note in the Campo dei Fiori is a brooding statue - a heavy, cloaked figure with his face nearly completely out of the sun. This is the statue of Giordano Bruno, a monk-turned-philosopher who was burned at the stake in 1600 in this very square by the Catholic Church. In 1889, the statue was erected in the piazza in remembrance of him.
Deer at top of Saint Eustace
Giordano Bruno's Monument
The telling of the burning
From the Campo dei Fiori, we wandered southwestward again, this time following one of the walks in Pu's guidebook. We first stopped at the Via Giulia, one of the first 'designed' streets in Rome (as in, there was some urban planning behind it). It was constructed in the early 1600s, and at the time was quite a busy and fashionable thoroughfare. These days it seems to be a somewhat quiet area; we enjoyed walking past some of it's more interesting parts, including the somewhat macabre Saint Mary of the Prayer and Death church, Michelangelo's Farnese Arch, which spans across the street, and a neat streetside fountain called 'the Fountain of the mask', which is an interesting combination of Roman artifacts and Renaissance architecture.
Fruits and Vegetables at the CdF
Santa Maria dell'Orazione e Morte
Skull, Santa Maria dell'Orazione e Morte
SS Trinita dei Pellegrini
From there it was over to the Jewish quarter of Rome, where we learned about the importance of Jewish people in the development of medieveal Rome, and about how this area was turned into a ghetto under Mussolini. Nearby to the Jewish quarter, we had a look at several ruins from Roman Antiquity: the Porticus Octaviae, bits of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus, and in general ruins in the Campus Martius.
Temple of Apollo Sosianus
Our guided walk (from Pu's book) ended at an ancient Roman bridge over the Tiber. This we crossed (because it was so cool: a completely intact 2000-year old Roman Bridge) onto Tiber Island, where we stopped at a little cafe and made ourselves at home at an outdoor table, looking out over a deserted little piazza. Pu had cappucino, Jenn had a tea, and I had a hot chocolate. And a chocolate croissant. Jenn caught up on her postcard writing, and Pu researched his guidebook, looking for our afternoon's walk.
Temple of Apollo Sosianus