Sunday, 8 October 2017

Layers of Rome



Today is the first Sunday of the month which means certain museums allow free entrance. As this includes the Forum we head there for the 8.30am opening.



First we say 'hi' to Marcus Aurelius before stopping to admire a favourite view point.



On the way down to the Forum entrance we pass the Clivus Argentarius, almost certainly the street that Julius Caesar took after leaving his home in the Forum to attend the senate meeting in the Curia Pompey where he was assassinated.



The Forum definitely benefits from multiple visits as there are so many stories that the stones tell from different periods in the history of the city.
We love to revisit the well known sites in the Forum (more details here) but today we are searching out some of the lesser known spots.



The shrine to Venus Cloacina marks the spot where the great drain Cloaca Maxima enters the Forum. It is also the location of an honour killing that took place in 451BC. A Roman Centurian, Virginius, murdered his daughter, Virginia, rather than allow her to be seduced by the rich law maker & judge, Appius Claudius.
The murder weapon was said to be a knife snatched from the nearby butcher's shops.



The Umbilicus Urbis Romae are the remains of the symbolic centre of the Roman Empire. Beneath is the Mundus, a hole in the ground that connected the living world above to the underworld of the dead. Three times a year the stone lid was removed and the inhabitants of the underworld  were allowed through the stone doorway to roam freely. On such days there were to be no military operations or public meetings or, indeed, marriages.




One of the stories surrounding the Lacus Curtius is that of Curtius, a Sabine knight who got stuck in the muddy marsh of the Forum valley which had flooded a few days before the battle between the Romans and the Sabines. The battle ended when the Roman-Sabine wives intervened which resulted in the Romans and Sabines merging together, sharing power between the two kings. A first step in Rome expanding its empire.



The forlorn headless statue on the steps of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina tells a love story. The building was originally the Temple of Faustina that Emperor Antoninus built for his late beloved wife. She died just two years into his 23 year reign. After his death the Senate renamed it the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina.
Emperor Antoninus was a faithful husband who loved and adored his wife. He placed a large seated statue of his wife within her temple and when he died the Senate placed a statue of him right beside her. They remained together for over two centuries until the Christians dragged their pagan statues out of the temple and threw them to the ground where they lay buried for over 1500 years. When they were discovered during excavations the fragments were reunited on the temple porch. Together again as they were in life.



Leaving the Forum we walk across the river to Trastevere and the sweet little church of Santa Maria in Cappella, one of the few remaining Medieval churches in the city. The church was built by reusing marble, columns and materials from Imperial Rome.


This cross is believed to be the earliest known work of Borromini


Just recently archaeological excavations have revealed bones quite possibly belonging to St Peter.


They were found in two clay pots beneath the altar. One theory is that they were transferred here from the Vatican by Pope Urban II at a time of schism within the Catholic Church. The church in Trastevere was closely linked to Pope Urban and may have been seen by him as a secure place in which to hide the bones.
As well as exploring the treasures within this charming church we are here to enjoy music from the time of the Emperors and Popes, provided by Rome Opera Omnia
There is something very special about listening to the same music that Hadrian would have heard, played on instruments lovingly recreated from the originals.




In the 17th century the church and its land was acquired by Donna Olimpia Pamphilj, sister in law to Pope Innocent X. She created a riverside pleasure garden alongside the church and it is in this 'Secret Garden' that we have brunch.


In the middle of the garden are the remains of the Fountain of the Snail, designed by Bernini.


We manage to tear ourselves away from this idyllic spot and take the bus back to Testaccio & our apartment.


Our passeggiata this evening takes us along Via Giulia to Via del Banco Santo Spiriti where we spot this star spangled ceiling in a passageway.


The plan had been to view the sunset from the terrace of Castel Sant'Angelo but everyone seemed to have had the same idea (entrance was free here today too) and the queue was so long that they had stopped admitting people inside.
We decided to watch the sun go down from Ponte Umberto I instead.


Then on to BeRe in Prati for drinks. As there were over 20 beers on tap it was difficult for a certain someone to choose just one!


We were perfectly placed to pick up the metro from Ottaviano to Re di Roma and from there it was a short walk to Santo Palato.
We had so looked forward to having dinner here and were not disappointed in either the fantastic food or wonderful Sunday night vibe.



Our evening ended with 'Old Fashioned' cocktails at our Testaccio 'local', Tram Depot.


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