Thursday, June 5, 2008

Weird Rome

Day 85

The hostel basically throws everyone out early for a long lock out period. I didn't mind the early start though, I had a lot of things to see.

This is my second time in Rome. I've done all the big sites. This time I wanted to concentrate on things that not everyone has the time to see. I am traveling with a book called Weird Europe and it has loads of sites for Rome that were interesting to me. I parked myself at a coffee shop for a bit to figure out a game plan and I was off.

I didn't get far there. There were some random ruins that I took pictures of. Eventually I did make it to Scala Santa, or the Holy Stairs. These are said to be the stairs that were in Pontius Pilates house. There are holes cut out so that you can see what is claimed to be blood stains. There were loads of people walking up the staircase on their knees. I decided to skip that part.

My next weird stop was Santo Stefano Rotondo. Charles Dickens had visited this place and thought it was quite interesting. The church was built in 468 and is circular. What is so odd is that there are very graphic paintings of saints being martyred. To make it even odder, the paintings are all in pastel colors. I took some time exploring the different pictures and trying to figure out which saint was which.

Along the was to my next stop I passed a Roman race track among other ruins. There is old stuff all over the place here. I could just turn a random corner and then bam, some Roman thing would be on the side of the building. The big sites are really just a fraction of what this town has to offer.

My next stop was the one I was the most unsure of. My book is ten years old and I never know whether or not things exist any longer. When I found the ruins I was glad to see that the Torre Argentina Cate Shelter was still there. The funny thing is that I remember these ruins and even have a picture of them. I can't believe that I didn't stumble upon the cats on my first trip. Basically this is a place where people can drop off their unwanted house cats, and where feral cat can regularly be feed and given care when needed. There were about 300 cats here. I spent as much time as my allergies would allow petting them and giving them love. I wished that I could take one with me. Not that I have a home to give it at the moment.

The next two places that I tried to visit were closed for lunch. Slightly frustrated I headed for Santa Maria Supra Minerva not knowing if it too would be closed. Luckily it was opened. I was popping in here because they have a statue of Christ by Michelangelo. The odd thing about it is that he is naked. This was considered wrong and Michelangelo had to cover up the holy family jewels with a bronze loincloth. It was a bit odd.

After a quick stop at the Pantheon and Trevi fountain I headed to the St. Agnes Catacombs. Unfortunately, they were closed. This was especially unfortunate because it had taken me about an hour to walk here. However, they would be opened on Saturday and I could return.

The next church of the day was Sant Maria Maggiore. They claim to have the manger, as in away in a manger. It sits in a recessed bit of the church, under the alter. The planks look like they could be about anything and there is a rather cranky looking baby Jesus on top of them. Who knows if this is it, its just kinda interesting to look at.

Lastly I stopped off at the nearby Santa Prassede. Here a black and white marble column that is about a foot tall is said to be the column that Jesus was tied to while he was whipped. I took my picture and left. I was about churched out at this point and could no longer tell the difference between any of them.

At this point I was completely exhausted. I headed back to the hostel for the free dinner. It was pretty good, the free part making it taste all the better. I stayed in and chatted with the people in my room and went to sleep early. My day might have not been typically Roman, but it was typically Kathryn!

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