Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rome - Day 3

Our last day in Rome was both a Monday and a religious holiday, a rather bad combination. Mondays, all the state museums are closed, and on religious holidays, churches have services and are therefore not open for sightseeing. So we started the day with a trip to the cemetery beneath the Chiesa Santa Maria della Concezione, which has been decorated by the Capuchin monks with the bones of their deceased brothers (we first saw this on Globetrekker). From there, it was only a short walk to the Spanish Steps, which were in the process of being decorated since the pope was scheduled to appear there later in the day. Walking on, we passed through some of the most expensive shopping streets in Rome to get to the Trevi fountain. Since at this point all the churches we wanted to visit (including the Pantheon, which is now a church) had mass in them, we then went to the Baths of Caracalla, a bit south of the center.
These were truly impressive ruins, and showed the giant scale of the buildings of ancient Rome. Some of the original mosaic floors were still in place (the second story had long since collapsed, but that floor was also on display in fragments). We took the bus back to the city, where our last attempt at seeing the Pantheon was foiled by its limited opening hours on public holidays. After walking back to the Campo de’ Fiori we made our way to the Teatro di Marcello, a Roman theatre on top of which apartments were built in the 16th century. Finally, we took the bus back to the train station, near our hotel. Since we still had a little time left, we wanted to see the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore with some 5th century mosaics. However, once there we discovered that the Madonna of Lourdes was there for the weekend, and that the Adoration of the Madonna was currently in progress. Still, we went into the church (there were plenty of people coming and going), and at least caught a glimpse of the mosaics. Then we got our luggage from the hotel and took the train (this time the fast one) back to Florence.
All in all, three days is far too little for a city with a rich history like Rome (‘Roma – non basta una vita!’). I’m sure we’ll be back to see the Sistine Chapel, the Via Appia Antica, the Villa Borghese, the Pantheon, and all of the other sights we weren’t able to see this time.

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