Sunday, 7 July 2013

In the Steps of St Paul

We start our day with cappuccino & warm cornetti at Er Caffettiere, conveniently placed opposite the metro station. Not only is the cornetti delicious but we are standing above original Roman tiles - amazing!

We take the metro to St Paul outside the Walls which is a church that we pass on our way into the city from the airport every trip but have not managed to visit until today.
The church was rebuilt in the 1800's after a fire destroyed the original basilica in 1823.
The church is huge with a very grand entrance through a colonnaded courtyard.

Once inside it is impressive too.

Contributions from all over the world were received to help with the rebuilding after the fire, including malachite & lapis lazuli from Tsar Nicholas I.

The Paschel candlestick survived the fire and dates from the 12th century.
Beneath the altar you get a glimpse of the tomb of St Paul

Around the walls are portraits of every pope, starting with St Peter.

We particularly appreciated the information boards dotted around the basilica with text both in Italian & English.
To keep on the St Paul theme, we take the metro once more to the end of the line at Laurentina. We walk down Via Laurentina, passing some beautiful bouquets of roses , until we reach the Tre Fontane Monastery.
Within the monastery walls is a small church that was built on the site of  the beheading of St Paul , ordered by Emperor Nero.

The name Tre Fontane arises from the legend of the three fountains that sprang from the earth where St Paul's severed head landed.
Also within the monastery is the tiny church of Santa Maria Scala Coeli. In the crypt you can see the cell where St Paul was held before his martyrdom.
The Trappist monks who live here are famous for making liqueur, honey & chocolate. We can't resist trying the latter.
We return to the apartment & start to pack. Lunch is on the terrace with the caponata that we made yesterday.
Later we go out to visit the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. According to legend, Emperor Augustus ordered the building of an altar here after the Tiburtine Sibyl prophesied the birth of Jesus. It was built on the site of the Temple of Juno which housed the Roman mint.
The view from the top of the steps is amazing.
The church is home to Santa Bambinello. The original figure is believed to have been carved from one of the olive trees in the garden of Gethsemane but sadly this was stolen in 1995 and what we see now is a replica. The figure is said to bring comfort to the sick & dying.
Back once more to the apartment where we enjoy chilled glasses of Franciacorta on the terrace.

For dinner on our last night we have chosen Trattoria Monti. We visited this restaurant last year & loved the we do now
Cod fish carpaccio

Stuffed fried olives with artichokes, zucchini flower, fried vanilla cream & ciauscolo sausage

Roast stuffed rabbit

Tortello in a butter & sage sauce
 One last look at a floodlit Santa Maria Maggiore, then it is time to wish Rome goodnight & goodbye.
However, we did throw our coins in the Trevi Fountain so hopefully we will return.

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