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Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
I recently earned my Masters in History at NWMSU and am now working as a language assistant in a Spanish elementary school.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Italian Interlude: Part Tre

The next morning we planned to visit the catacombs, which lie along the Via Appia Antica (or Ancient Appian Way), an original road from the Roman Empire which runs outside the city. It was used originally for the military and became a heavily traveled and busy road. Now little remains there but scattered ruins. We took the bus to the city center and walked past the Roman Forum and Colosseum to get there. On the way we walked past the ruins of the Circus Maximus, a track used for chariot races which had been used as early as the Etruscan times (1200-550BC).

We walked to the road that turned to the Appain Way where we waited at a stop for a bus to take us to the start of the old road. We waited some more. Then we waited. After further waiting we decided to walk the way. We actually saw some interesting things along the way:

Here is a photo of some of the original Roman stone road:
One place along the way was a recently excavated site called Capo di Bove. It was a villa from the Imperial era and contained many baths. Some tile floors were still intact. The structure was similar in style to the Roman villa in Alcalá de Henares, Casa de Hippolytus.
While taking picture of Capo di Bove, a cat ran up to me and followed me around the site. Here's the cat trying to steal some pastries I bought at a little store on the Appian Way:
We saw the tomb of Cecilia Metella along the way. She was the daughter of a Roman consul in the Republican era whose husband, a wealthy noble, constructed a tomb for her. The tower of the tomb remains in good condition:

We then visited one of the catacombs, the Catacombs of San Sebastiano. Here is the entrance:

The catacombs are underground burial chambers from the Roman Imperial era. This one in particular (as well as most others) were for Christians who could not be buried elsewhere because of scarcity of land. Also the persecution of Christians during the early Imperial era lead to these burials in secret underground chambers. The Catacomb of San Sebastiano was used from the second century AD until the early middle ages. Its most impressive room included three structures which looked like houses carved from the rock complete with windows, front doors, and decorative paintings. Most of the bodies have been moved and none were visible (as is the case with the catacombs of Paris).

After the catacombs we walked back to the center of Rome. I got these pictures along the way:

That night we walked around the central area and I found a cool store that was advertised by its sign as an "Oddities Shop." It was close to the Pantheon and seemed like something out of a Ray Bradbury novel (especially as I couldn't find it to get better pictures the next time I was downtown). Mostly everything in it was expensive, but it was fun to look at. There was a giant wooden statue of a Tahitian god with red jewels for eyes (which looked like they glowed in the dim light). The walls and shelves were decorated with several tin toys from the early twentieth century, old travel advertisements, and antique, framed tarot cards. A black-and-white television played an old film of a magician performing traditional tricks (pulling rabbits out of top hats) and the back of the store sold supplies for magicians and had a fortune-telling machine with a crystal ball. Here is a picture of the store-front window:
The next morning I got some cannolis from a market near our place. These are pastries stuffed with sweetened ricotta chesse and chopped pistachios, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and had a candied orange-peel on either end. They were less sweet than the cannolis I've had in the United States:
The next day we moved from Plus Camping Roma to another hostel because we could only make the booking for seven days. The other hostel was in the central area, close to Termini train station and was called the Yellow. It was run by Americans and Australians. We checked our stuff there, then returned to the Pantheon where we were able to visit the interior. It was quite impressive and included several tombs such as Vittorio Emanuele II and Raphael. The most striking feature of the interior is the giant dome roof with the open hole in the center:
After visiting the Pantheon, we walked to Villa Borghese, a large late-Renaissance villa on the outskirts of Rome constructed for Scipione Borghese who was a Cardinal, member of the nobility, and an art collector. I wanted to visit the Galleria Borghese which has a collection of Bernini sculptures, but reservations had to be made several days in advance. Instead I walked around the villa, taking pictures of the gardens and buildings:
On the way back from Villa Borghese, we walked through Piazza Barberini where Bernini's Fountain of Triton is located:
We also walked down the Via delle Quattro Fontane, a street with an intersection in which each corner has one of four similar fountains:

1 comment:

  1. Eric,
    This has been so much fun to read. Your camera takes very good photos. The food looks much better in Rome!