While Pam and J continue their Europe tour, I have sadly returned home. I was given an important mission: update the blog! Since I joined them in Roma, that is where I shall begin the story.
My first day in Roma, Tuesday 9/18 was busy! Pam and J met me at the airport and then we had business to attend to! Our first stop was the National Museum of Rome. The museum houses the greatest collection of ancient Roman art anywhere, including busts of emperors and a Roman copy of the Greek Diskus Thrower. Some interesting things we saw here were:
-the bust of Julius Caesar (we will later see his temple at the Roman Forum)
-life size statue of Augustus (also known as Octavian - he took the title later in life and became the first of the emperors who would rule Rome for the next 500 years.)
-Statues of Apollo (the god of light), Aprodite (goddess of beauty), the diskus thrower, Hermaphrodite Sleeping (yes, she/he was sculpted as a hermaphrodite)
After the mueseum is was off to the Baths of Diocletian. These baths sprawled over 10 acres, roughly twice the area of the Forum, and could cleanse 3,000 Romans at once. Today, there are 3 sections to visit: The Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, housed in the former main hall of the baths, is the single most impressive sight of the bunch. The Octagonal Hall, is a well preserved rotunda that displays sculptures from the baths. Finally, The Museum of the Bath has a shady garden with Roman tombstones outside, and early Roman jewelery, masks, burial items, and Roman inscriptions on tombs and tablets inside. Of the three, we only visited The Church b/c the other we tried to visit was closed.
Some facts about the Church. It is a round dome room with an oculus was the cooling off room of the baths where medium temperatures were maintained. It is the size of a football field and 7 stories higher. it was once even higher (the original ancient floor was about 15 feet below its present level. It was built around 300 AD. The church today was partly designed by Michelangelo who used the baths' main hall as the nave. Later another artists renovated the church. One neat feature of the church is the La Meridiana (1702). It is pointing north and acts like a sundial. The clock also served as a calender. There are signs of the zodiac and it can chart the movement oft he stars. There are also key dates in the Christian calendar such as the spring equinox and Easter. La Meridiana was the city of Rome's official time keeper until 1846 when it was replaced by the cannon atop Gianicolo Hill which is still fired everyday at noon.
Here are some pictures:
Exterior of the Baths of Diocletian
Interior of the Church
Diagram of La Meridiana
The next church we visited was Santa Maria della Vittoria. This church houses Bernini's statue, the swooning St. Teresa in Ectasy. Teresa has just been tabbed with God's arrow of fire. Now, the angel pulls it out and watches her reaction. Teresa, a 16th century Spanish nun, later talked of the "sweetness" of this intense pain, describing her oneness with God in ecstatic, perhaps erotic terms. It is a very impressive especially considering the natural light shines in creating even more effect.
St. Teresa in Ecstasy
Statue of St. Teresa
Exterior of Santa Maria della Vittoria
After a quick rest at "home base" we were off again. This time we were going to do a night walk of Trastevere. Trastevere is the crustier side of Rome. It is also where we ate dinner. We intended to do the Rick Steve's Trastevre walk, but we got turned around and never really did it. Rome is very confusing. They don't have street signs per say, they instead have a sign on a building. This can make it really hard to figure out the street you are on. There are slo all kinds of Piazzas which have names as well. Sometimes they are the same name of streets so it gets confusing. So we couldn't find the church we were going to tour and ended up kind of following the route of the tour. We got to see all kinds of quaint alley ways and buildings. We made our way over to Trattoria da Lucia for dinner. It is described as traditional simple food at a good price in a great scene. It has been family run since world war 2. We drank red wine and ate delicious food. The food was amazing and the atmosphere was great. It was on a side street with walking traffic. Very quaint. We ate in the alleyway. After this, we walked to the Colloseum metro stop. It was quite a distance! About an hour walk. It was neat because we saw the colloseum, roman forum, the Tiber River and basically Rome at night. This was the end of my first (Pam and J's second) day in Roma!!
Colloseum at Night
Dinner at Trattoria da Lucia
Pam and J in the alley where Trattoria da Lucia is. Taken after dinner
Tiber at night.