Saturday, June 7, 2008

Kathryn and the Catacombs of Doom

Day 87

Today was my last day in Rome. I had gotten nowhere close to seeing everything that I had on my list. I guess that this is just one of those cities that I will always return to.

I had tried to visit the St. Agnes Catacombs a few days ago, but it had been closed. This time I recruited a guy from the hostel named Bruce to come with me. Catacombs were scary and this way I wouldn't have to go alone.

To both of our disappointment the bodies had been removed. Well, there were three skeletons left but there wasn't much of them. The catacombs dated from the 3rd or 4th century and were surprisingly well preserved. Many of the tombs still had their sealing slabs in place. It was also interesting to see how bits of older buildings had been reused throughout the structure. One sealing slab was probably once part of a four sided column. Our guide read aloud and translated the Latin inscriptions on the graves. Many of them said something like 'so and so aged 46 years and 78 days give or take. Why would they put the days if they were not sure?

In a few of the chapels the wealthier people had been buried. Here it was easy to see early Christian symbols of palm fronds and birds. The last chapel, accessible from the church at all times, was the tomb of St. Agnes and her sister. Both of them had been beheaded by the Romans for their religion.

The tour was a bit unsatisfying, mostly because we were unable to take pictures and Bruce joked that we should break in after the next tour. I didn't much care for that idea and instead we went to the nearby mausoleum for St. Costanza. Bruce was studying architecture and had read about this building in one of his classes. He had not been planning on visiting it but was happy when it turned out to be right next door to St. Agnes. We spent some time taking pictures of the circular building before heading back to St. Agnes to get pictures of the church.

When the group after ours came out we went down for another look at St. Agnes' coffin. The door to the catacombs was only locked from our side. No key was needed as it was opened on the other side by a push bar. The door was wrought iron and full of holes, but there was a piece of plexiglass above and below the handle. Bruce tried to reach in, but his arm was too bit and got stuck. He asked me to try. I didn't want to, not really. I made a half hearted attempt but couldn't quite reach. For some reason the whole idea became much more appealing when I thought it was very much like Indiana Jones. I tried again and I was just able to get the bar to move in and the door opened. This is where my adventure ends though. I was far too nervous about getting caught to go in. Bruce went in alone and promised to send me the pictures that he got. When he came out without any problems I sorta wished that I had gone in as well.

After taking the bus back into the center of Rome we headed to the Trevi Fountain. I was there the day before, but was able to get some better pictures.

Eventually we ended up at an intersection called the four corners. There is a fountain on each side. I think that this might have been in Angels and Demons. It seemed like a lot of the churches were closed at this point for lunch. We decided to go and check out one basilica that had been designed by Michaelangelo. I had been to this one before, but it was fabulous then and I wanted to revisit it.

After checking out the church we parted ways, Bruce back to the hostel for some work, and me to an internet cafe to work on the blog.

I made it back to the hostel just in time to get my free dinner. Afterwards I left, with a new friend from Oz named Emma, to meet up with Kaori and Katherine again. We had some pizza and chatted for quite some time. It was just like a night out with the girls at home except that we were in Rome and that is so much cooler!

I had to call it an early night because of a ridiculously early train. It was sad saying goodbye, but we all agreed to keep in touch.

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