Monday, 6 April 2015

Snow in Summer

As you have probably guessed by now I LOVE Rome and have visited many times. However there are so many things still to see & do  Here are the top  three on my 'bucket list', in reverse order of course, as would happen at any self respecting award ceremony!

Santa Maria Maggiore (aka 'Our Lady of the Snows')

The original church on this site owed its location to a vision that came to Pope Liberius in the 4th century . The Virgin Mary herself commanded that a church should be built where snow fell, as it did......on the 5th August! On that day every year to commemorate the Miracle of the Madonna of the Snow, a son et lumiere show is put on in the piazza in front of the Basilica with artificial snow “magically” falling out of a warm star-studded Roman summer sky.
So third place on the bucket list goes to 'snow in summer'.
Achievable? Absolutely -  just book an early August break in the Eternal city.

Holy Doors - St Peter's Basilica
There are five sets of bronze doors that lead in to St Peter's Basilica and they are mostly ignored by visitors who are drawn in to the magnificent interior. You will find much to admire if you pause a while. The far left doors are the spookiest - known as the Doors of Death because funeral processions pass through them. They are decorated with various scenes of martyrdom. The vultures are particularly ominous!
The centre doors are my favourite. They are from the original basilica built by Emperor Constantine and are the work of Filarete, a Florentine artist.

On the reverse of the doors is Filarete's 'signature' ...........

....he is seen with his workers who are dancing joyfully whilst holding the tools of their trade.
For the purpose of the bucket list, the Holy Doors on the far right prove the most interesting. These doors are only opened in a Holy Year, held once every 25 years (the last was in 2000) when the Pope himself knocks on them with a tiny silver hammer.
So, second place on the bucket list goes to being able to walk through the Holy Doors.
Achievable? Thanks to Pope Francis it is! The pope declared an extraordinary Holy Year which will commence on 8th December this year. So no waiting until 2025 to walk through those doors.
Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta
This piazza, designed by the architect Piranesi and looking like one of his drawings, is home to one of the worst kept 'secret places' in Rome - the view through the keyhole.

The view spans three countries. You are standing in Italy looking towards Vatican city through the gardens of  the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who own the building in which the keyhole is found. The Knights of Malta is an order of chivalry, a bit like the Red Cross, who help the needy people of the world.
It is those gardens that provide the number one wish on the bucket list. In Paolo Sorrentino's Oscar winning film, The Great Beauty, the main character is given the key to the gardens and tours around. This would be an amazing thing to do.
Achievable? Mmmm - quite tricky. The only reference I have found to the gardens on any tour schedule is that of the American Horticultural Society Travel Study Programme (and that is subject to confirmation). It is also a mega expensive tour! Let us say this is a work in progress but no one ever said that ticking off all items on a bucket list was going to be easy!

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