|A view of the Forum from the Colosseum.|
|Sarah helping to put the massive size of the top of a corinthian pillar into perspective.|
The first was the Basilica di San Clemente which is promoted as "one of the more interesting churches in Rome" so maybe I just missed something. Having been spoiled seeing so many other churches/basilicas in Rome, I was underwhelmed with the San Clemente. The church did not allow photography so I cannot add any visuals here to the blog. The church is on the small side (all relative when comparing basilicas in Rome) and I didn't observe any feature that was outstanding (to the untrained eye). It is old however, and that is always something when these buildings survive a thousand or more years. It was almost buried in ruins when the Normans set fire to it in 1084 and was rebuilt in the 12th century. For the art historians out there, San Clemente remains a rare example of a paleo-Christian basilica, so may be worth a visit.
We then continued on to the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano which even the average person walking off the street can appreciate. Apparently the Catholic Church has named it "The Mother of All Churches".
|The High Altar was made in 1367 under Pope Urban V and is reserved for the Pope; only he can celebrate mass from this pulpit.|
|The cosmatesque (derived from the name of a family of marble workers, the Cosmati, who worked in and around Rome in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries) floor, characterized by geometric motifs formed using cut pieces of marble and other stones.|
|Close-up of the hieroglyphs on the obelisk.|
|Painting of Mary and Jesus located behind the high altar.|
|The Italian McDonald's Happy Meal included a yogurt drink in addition to the chicken nuggets and fries.|
For those who don't know much about the Roman Forum, it was the center of the civic and economic life in the Republican era (~509 BC - approx 44 BC) and maintained an important role also in the Imperial period (~27 BC - approx 550 AD). Particularly through the Republican era, the Forum valley filled with public buildings which almost always originally had a timber frame and brick facing. Over the years, they were reconstructed following fires or civil strife. It is because of the unplanned continuity of building over time that the Forum lacks a unitary plan. At the beginning of the Imperial period and the first Emperor, Augustus, the Forum took on a different role, more of a monumental center and place of religious worship, while public life moved to the nearby Imperial Forum. The area began to decline in the 4th century AD, with the Imperial court's move to Ravenna and the closure of some temples, and then in the 5th century following the Visigoth and Vandal invasions.
Here are a subset of photographs taken while wandering around listening to the audioguide.
|The Arch of Constantine (under renovation) and the Colosseum behind.|
|Temple of Vesta: The temple is linked to one of Rome's most ancient cults. Here the Vestal Virgins tended the sacred fire which was to burn perpetually as a symbol of the city's life force.|
|Statues at the House of the Vestal Virgins.|
|Interior of the Arch of Titus: It was built by the Senate after Emperor Titus's death in memory of his conquest of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The bas-relief shown here represents the Emperor on his triumphal chariot.|
|A view of Rome from the Palatine Hill.|
|The kids gearing up for their epic battle in the Circus Maximus. Videos were taken but we won't subject our readers to those.|
|The only thing going through my mind at this point was getting that antibacterial spray out of my purse.|
|Don't do it! Don't visit (Pope) Hadrian's tomb! (Unless it is free.)|
|Paul was game to try every "kids activity" on the list.|
|Upon arrival to Largo di Torre Argentina, we were all expecting to see masses of cats but at first glance we only saw one.|
|Looking for cats.|
|Found a cat...that promptly hissed at Paul after this photo was taken.|
|Paul and Sarah on the Ponte Fabricio walking towards the Isola Tiberina. Built in 62 BC, the Ponte Fabricio is the oldest Roman bridge still existing in its original state.|
|Typical brotherly fun: Let's toss my sister into the Tiber.|
|Someone had a sense of humor with this fountain near the Ponte Garibaldi.|
|A view of the Isola Tiberina from the Ponte Garibaldi.|
|Inside the sanctuary, the cats will approach you two or three at a time.|
We walked through Piazza Navona and I decided to take a picture of the third fountain located there. (The other two are in the "All Roads Lead to Rome" blog).
When we arrived at the Castel Sant' Angelo, we again rented the audioguides which is really important in order to make a visit worthwhile. (In lieu of the audioguide, a guide book would also work. Signage is minimal so one won't garner much by just walking in and looking around.) The Castel Sant' Angelo makes a good outing and I'd recommend seeing it during late afternoon. There is a cafe on the upper level and it's possible to get a coffee or glass of wine and it would be very pleasant sitting out on the terrace watching the sunset.
|Hadrian's ashes were placed here a year after his death in 138 AD, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138 AD.|
|Bust of Emperor Hadrian designed by Michelangelo, but then changed by Montelupo, and restored in the early 1900's.|
|A trebuchet which may not authentically belong here.|
|The papal apartments were started by Pope Julius II, then Leo X, but Paul III redecorated everything, so his painting style is what is seen. Pope Paul III lived here for 13 years.|
|The treasury room, linked to the papal apartments, was used as a safe for Rome during the Renaissance.|
|A view of the Tiber.|
Most of the buildings that have been excavated were built in the first half of the second century, when such notable emperors such as Trajan and Hadrian ruled. Due to the addition of a harbor district, Ostia was rich and prosperous until the Severan period in the early 3rd century. During this time, Ostia’s population was roughly 50,000 people, including 17,000 slaves. This was twice the size of Pompei and, as a result, the span of the city ruins is much broader.
Ostia is certainly worth a visit. Make sure you bring a guidebook or find some information on-line to bring with you. Ostia maps are available for sale at the entrance but they give very little information. Here are a few of the photos I took.
|It was customary to bury the dead outside the city walls. So the first thing visitors walk by when entering Ostia is the necropolis which means "city of the dead".|
|Walking along Via Ostiense (and through the necropolis) towards the Porta Romana.|
|Remains of a long covered passageway on the main road (Decumanus Maximus) through Ostia: Ostia was supplied in the Imperial period with monumental porticoed zones that offered protection from inclement weather and shelter for commercial activities.|
|This was a bauletto fountain. Fountains like these were added after the 1st century AD when the aqueduct was added.|
|One of the semi-circular nymphea (monument dedicated to the nymphs that (often) supplied water), bordered by four columns, which was built in the Imperial period. Entrance to the theater can be seen behind it, to the left.|
|The theatre was built by Agrippa and then remodeled by Septimius Severus in the 2nd century AD. It's located at the north side of the main road, Decumanus Maximus.|
|Temple dedicated to Ceres who was the goddess of agriculture (appropriate for a town dealing in grain imports).|
|A market building of about 120 AD: A little shrine on the back wall was decorated in red and yellow brick and probably housed the household god (Lares) who watched over the community of merchants.|
|Forum Capitolium (temple dedicated to the main Roman deities (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva)), built during Hadrian's reign.|
|This fountain is somewhat exceptional in that it hasn't been completely stripped of its marble facing and details.|
|Cross-section of a wall in one of the hot rooms in the Terme del Foro: Ongoing fires would heat up the air piped through the walls of these rooms.|
|The most intact communal latrine that I'd seen, complete with (cold, hard) marble seats. It was believed that these were built in the 4th century AD.|
|St Paul's Within the Walls was the first non-catholic church built in Rome. The Church was designed by George Edmund Street and was built between 1873 and 1876.|
|The mosaic apses, designed by Burne-Jones, are designated a National Monument by the Italian Government. Here, the main apse behind the altar, represents "Christ the Lord in glory".|
|Close-up of the main apse.|
|All the windows in the church tell some story relating to Paul. This photo shows the great rose window high up on the west end of the church. It represents Christ the King surrounded by eight Roman martyrs.|
|We were booked for Wednesday at 10:30am.|
|We were so close to the dome that it was difficult to photograph it.|
|From the floor of St Peter's one can't even see these mosaic medallions at the base of the dome and if one could, they would appear very small.|
|From below, these pictures look like paintings but up close you realize they are brilliantly executed detailed mosaics. It's a treat to see these.|
|During the last 231 stairs, one walks through a narrow walkway which is slanted. This is the space between the dome and the outer roof.|
|View of the Palace of the Governorate of Vatican City State and the gardens behind.|
|The 4-sided portico consists of 150 columns and a statue of St Paul in the center.|
|The inside of the basilica is split into 5 naves. The basilica was destroyed by fire in 1823 but Pope Pius IX rebuilt it in 1854 on the same foundations following the original design.|
|Between the windows and columns are a series of medallions portraying all the popes from St Peter (30-67 AD) to Francis (2013-).|
|Here, Sarah is down by St Paul's remains writing a prayer, "Dear god. Bless evry one on erth. Love Sarah"|
Hadrian's Villa, a complex of over 30 buildings, was built as a retreat from Rome. Hadrian was said to dislike the palace on the Palatine Hill in Rome and during the later years of his reign, he actually governed the empire from the villa. A large court therefore lived there permanently. A direct postal service between Rome and the Villa was set up to keep inhabitants of the Villa in contact with Rome 29 km away. The complex included palaces, several thermae, a theatre, temples, libraries, state rooms, and quarters for courtiers, praetorians and slaves. Here are a few photos from our couple hours wandering around.
|At the first moment, one is made aware of how grand the Villa complex was.|
|The Canopus: It was a pool representing a branch of the Nile, set in the center of a narrow, artificial valley. It was constructed approximately 123-124 AD.|
|The Praetorium (officers' quarters).|
|Grandi Terme/the Great Baths: What is left of the cross arched ceiling almost looks like it is floating over the the Great Baths.|
|This was thought to be the gymnasium next to the Great Baths.|
|The peristyle (columns surrounding) pool.|
|What is left of the Piazza d'Oro (Golden Square): It was a vast building with a rectangular open court filled with flower-beds and water basins. The name of the building came from the lavish ornaments and the wealth of the works of art found inside.|
|Entrance to the Piazza d'Oro.|
|Looking through a passageway to the Piazza d'Oro.|
|Doric pillars in or near the Imperial Palace.|
|A view of what once was the library courtyard. Beyond that one can see the view of the surrounding hills that inhabitants of the villa enjoyed.|
|The Hospitalia was a 2-story building with 10 guest rooms on the first floor off a wide central hallway (seen here). Nothing remains of the second floor.|
|I think I should start carrying around a Sharpie to correct the English on some of the signage I've seen around Italy.|
On January 14th, we finally went to the Vatican Museums. It was a rainy day and the perfect time to be indoors. Vincent and I did some research on how to get the most out of the Vatican Museums, looking at various tours, but in the end we decided to just pre-book tickets (to avoid having to stand in lines) and get the audioguides. I found online that the Vatican Museum offers a "family" audioguide which was targeted towards kids Sarah's age. She and Vincent went out in the morning to buy a pair of headsets that would be comfortable so she wouldn't have to hold the audioguide to her ear. (Doing what we could to make it a pleasant experience.)
When we arrived at the museums, I offered to go with Sarah while Vincent and the boys would try to stick together. Sarah was very happy and fully engaged with her tour. The only complaint that I had was that her tour focused on the first part of the museum and then completely skipped over the paintings and Borgia apartments in the center of the the museum. Also, oddly, the children's program focused on some items that the adult audio tour did not; this made it difficult to discuss certain works with Sarah along the way. The museums' administration really needs to tighten this up; they're on the right track introducing the family tour but it still needs work.
Here are a subset of the photos I took throughout the Vatican museums. There are no photos of the Sistene Chapel, as photography in there is strictly forbidden.
|Statue of the god Anubis (1st-2nd century AD): Anubis was associated with the mummification and protection of the dead for their journey into the afterlife. (This was also highlighted on Sarah's "family" tour.)|
|Sarah in the Museo Egizio learning about Queen Tuya.|
|The Braccio Nuovo Gallery.|
|While in the Museo Pio Clementino, walking between rooms, I looked up and saw this head above a doorway. It must have been the inspiration for at least one horror movie involving dolls.|
|The Sala Rotonda in the Museo Pio Clementino: One of my favorite rooms.|
|The Sala a Croce Greca.|
|A small section of the exquisite Gallery of Maps ceiling.|
|By Raffaello in the Sala di Costantino.|
|By Raffaello in the Stanza della Segnatura.|
|By Raffaello in the Stanza dell'Incendio di Borgo.|
|Ceiling from a room just following the Sistine Chapel; I don't have any information on it but included it because that trumpeting angel spoke to me.|
We worked our way through crowds and then security and then more crowds and amazingly found seats in one of the front sections, just right of the stage. At this point it was 8:30 and I thought, hmm, having to wait 2 hours before a 2 hour event, I should find a washroom, so off I went. I arrived and found a very lengthy queue. Imagine, 10,000 people and one set of washroom facilities. I decided to stand in line and at 9:30 finally emerged from the loo to find that the Pope arrived early! Security had closed all routes back to where my family was sitting, as the Pope was making his rounds around the piazza in the popemobile. He spent about 40 minutes circling around, kissing countless babies, waving and having brief exchanges with people. Fortunately, I still was in a good spot with a good view but just frustrated that I was separated from the family. The Pope was driven by me twice but each time my overzealous neighbors wacked my camera with their waving arms so I couldn't any sort of a photo.
|Emerging from the WC, I found the Pope had arrived and all routes back to my family were closed off. Here is a view of the security detail and crowds. The Pope is making his way up the road to the right.|
|Once the Pope passed by and my frantic neighbors calmed down, I was able to get this photo. While I cannot comment on the popularity of previous Popes, it's clear Pope Francis is very well liked. He seemed to really enjoy interacting with the people.|
|A zoomed-in photo of Vince and the kids finally seeing me from across the aisle after our 3 hour separation.|
|Pope Francis departing.|
I have to say, Rome's Explora was fabulous. We've obviously been to a lot of museums for children and have seen many of the same imaginary play set-ups but the Explora takes some of them to the next level. They've employed technology to give children a more true to life experience. Three of my favorite areas were the grocery store, the bank, and the area set up to show one how to make money and spend money.
|In the earning, spending and saving money section, Sarah took a job as a courier. She had 60 in which to deliver a package.|
|Sarah earned €14.69 for her courier delivery but €1.46 was deducted off her paycheck as a community contribution. Socialism ideals already at play.|
|We finally walked up the Spanish Steps. The Steps were built between 1723-1726 and link the Church of Trinita dei Monti on the Pincian Hill with the Piazza di Spangna.|