Friday, October 26, 2012
Travel Post #16: Roma!
We were up bright and early on Friday morning, heading out from the port city of Civitavecchia (try and say that fast three times, even once!) via a short shuttle bus ride and a brisk walk to arrive at the Italia train station for the 90-minute ride into Rome.
Upon arriving in Rome, we grabbed a taxi and headed immediately to the Catacombe di San Callisto (passing the Coliseum along the way). Nothing like a cab ride on a Friday morning in Rome, well except maybe in Istanbul, or Naples. Harrowing.
The catacombs we chose to visit (there are 60 in Rome, five are open to the public) are the first cemeteries of the Christian community in Rome and the San Callisto catacomb is a network of underground galleries and burial places running 12 miles with over 500,000 people buried there at one time in the five underground levels (including 16 popes in the 3rd century). We were in a small group of five led by a friar for our tour. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed. And no, I did not scoop up small amounts of cemetery dust and discretely drop it into my little travel purse pocket.
After our visit to the catacombs, we caught a bus, and then the subway, and made our way to Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. We were at both of these places four years ago and it was a dream to visit these two favorite sites again.
We had time to visit one final curiosity and we (well, I) chose to visit Il Convento dei Cappuccini Church, also know as the Church of Immaculate Conception, or The Capuchini Bone Chapel, or just The Church of the Bones. Again, no photos were permitted, but I bought a book and snapped a few photos so you could get an idea of this fascinating place. It was a highlight for me, "horrifying" for Howard. What is it? It is six underground chapels made up of the human bones and skulls of 4,000 friars. The walls and ceilings are also lined with bone fragments, even light fixtures are made from the bones. It is difficult to describe, so here's a link. And if you're wanting more, just google Church of the Bones and you can see about three million images. (WARNING to my daughter who is sharing our travels with her third graders. This is not appropriate for your class. I wouldn't advise following the link or looking at the images. Really.)