The Capuchin Crypt which displays the bones of over 4,000 Capuchin friars
Rome Travel Blog› entry 6 of 10 › view all entries
Next we actually had set some goals for our walk around Rome, just to make sure that we didnâ€™t miss one of the mayor sites in Rome; The Trevi Fountain. The fountain at the juncture of three roads (tre vie) marks the terminal point of the "modern" Acqua Vergine, the revivified Aqua Virgo, one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome.
We walked to the Metro after a late breakfast and decided to get off already at the second station towards the city centre; Piramide. The train station was leading directly towards Piramide di Caio Cestio or Piramide Cestia).
The pyramid was built about 18 BC-12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius Epulo, a magistrate and member of one of the four great religious corporations at Rome, the Septemviri Epulonum. It is of brick-faced concrete covered with slabs of white marble standing on a travertine foundation, measuring 100 Roman feet (22 m) square at the base and standing 125 Roman feet (27 m) high.
In the interior is the burial chamber, a simple barrel-vaulted rectangular cavity measuring 5.
We followed Viale del Campo Boario and enjoyed the trees along the pavement. The weather had changed, not dramatically but it was colder than the other days. We turned towards River Tiber at Via Nicola Zabaglia passing Monte Testaccio. In antiquity, much of the Tiber River trade took place here, and the remains of broken clay vessels (amphorae) were stacked creating the artificial Testaccio hill, which today is a source of much archeological evidence as to the history of ancient everyday Roman life.
We turned again at Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice after passing Parrocchia salesiana di S.M.Liberatrice al Testaccio. We turned towards the Tiber again just below San Anselmo all'Aventino; a church and monastery that was designed by Hildebrand de Hemptinne and Fidelis von Stotzingen, and built in 1900. The International College of Sant' Anselmo is located here, as is the seat of the Abbot Primate of the Federation of 'Black Monks'. This includes all monks under the Rule of St Benedict except the Cistercians and the Trappists.
The traffic along the Lungotevere Avertino was rather calm and we were heading for Circus Maximus when we saw a small road; Clivio di Rocca Savella, amongst the trees leading up to Santa Sabina all'Aventino, which is another basilica.
The basilica is the centre of the Dominican order. Santa Sabina lies high on the Aventine Hill, riverside, close to the headquarters of the Knights of Malta. Santa Sabina is an early basilica (5th century), with a classical rectangular plan and columns. The decorations have been restored to their original modesty, mostly white. Together with the light pouring in from the windows, this makes the Santa Sabina an airy and roomy place. Because of its simplicity, the Santa Sabina represents the crossover from a roofed Roman forum to the churches of Christendom.
We walked down the Via Santa Sabina and passed Roseto Comunale where the roses were in full bloom displaying all imaginable colours.
Circus Maximus, Latin for greatest circus, is an ancient hippodrome and mass entertainment venue located in Rome. Situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills, the location was first utilized for public games and entertainment by the Etruscan kings of Rome. Certainly, the first games of the Ludi Romani (Roman Games) were staged at the location by Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth Etruscan ruler of Rome. Somewhat later, the Circus was the site of public games and festivals influenced by the Greeks in the 2nd century BC. Meeting the demands of the Roman citizenry for mass public entertainment on a lavish scale, Julius Caesar expanded the Circus around 50 BC, after which the track measured approximately 600 m in length, 80 m in breadth and could accommodate an estimated 250,000 spectators (many more, perhaps an equal number again, could view the games by standing, crowding and lining the adjoining hills).
Watching this place closing out the noise of todayâ€™s cars and imagining a crowd of 250.000 spectators watching the games cheering the best of their lungs can make the small hair on your back quiver. It must have been a fantastic sight.
We passed La Bocca della VeritĂ or in English, "the Mouth of Truth", which is a renowned image of a man-like face and located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, carved from Pavonazzetto marble. The sculpture is thought to be part of an ancient Roman fountain, or perhaps a manhole cover, portraying one of several possible pagan gods.
The most amazing part about walking in this city is that there are stories on every street corner. We passed Templo de HĂ©rcules and the Forum Boarium. Forum Boarium was the cattle forum venalium of Ancient Rome and the oldest forum that Rome possessed. It was located at a flat place near the Tiber between the Capitoline, the Palatine and Aventine hills. Here, too, is where the first bridges were built.
One of the goal of this day had been to visit Isola Tiberina and the island was now in sight. We passed Ponte Palatino and enjoyed the leftovers of the former bridge; The Pons Aemilius today known as Ponte Rotto. The bridge is the oldest Roman stone bridge in the city and it is preceded by a wooden version. It has been stone since the 1st century BC.
Once spanning across the Tiber (connecting the Forum Boarium with Trastevere), a single arch in mid-river is all that remains today, lending the bridge the name Ponte rotto ('Broken bridge').
I am amazed that all the old beauty has remained in a city like Rome undergoing so many changes over thousands of years. Being a tourist here makes you appreciate that not all old building are demolished and successes by new and modern buildings.
We passed Ponte Cestio "Cestius' Bridge which is a stone bridge from the island to the west bank of the Tiber. The bridge was originally built around the 4th century BC, after the pons Fabricius, which situates on the other side of island.
Both the ponti Cestius and Fabricius were long-living bridges; however, whereas the Fabricius remains wholly intact, the Cestius was largely destroyed in the 19th century with only some of the ancient structure preserved. The pons Cestius is the first bridge that reached the right bank of Tiber. While the island was long connected with the left bank of the Tiber, even before the pons Fabricius, the right bank (Transtiber) remained unconnected until the Cestius.
The island is very small and a calm breathing place in the city. On the island you have a small hospital and the Basilica San Bartolomeo all'Isola. The basilica was founded at the end of the tenth century by Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor. It contains the relics of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, and is located on the site of the former temple of Aesculapius, which had cleansed the island of its ill-repute and established its reputation as a hospital, continued today. Emperor Otto built this church, which was initially dedicated to Adalbert of Prague, friend of Otto. It was renovated by Pope Paschal II in 1113 and again in 1180, after its rededication upon the arrival of the relics of the apostle Bartholomew. The relics were sent to Rome from Benevento, where they had arrived from Armenia in 809. The relics are located within an ancient Roman porphyry bath with lions' heads, under the main altar.
We followed the trail of people with an ice cream in their hand and found ourselves in a queue for gelati. We got some great large ice creams and enjoyed it at the Ponti Fabricius viewing the activities on the river or just followed the water with our eyes. After crossing the bridge we entered the Jewish quarter passing the sinagoga al tramonto. The Jewish area is nice and calm and I enjoy the difference to some of the other areas. We passed the ruins at via del Foro Piscario where they were making some kind of movie.
We walked along Via dei Giubbonari until we reached the always colourful Campo dell Fiori. I had wondered who the dark guy was who was sculptured in the middle of the square; it turned out to be the philosopher Giordano Bruno. Capital punishments used to be held publicly in Campo dei Fiori. Here, on 17 February 1600, the philosopher Giordano Bruno was burnt alive by the Roman Inquisition because his ideas were deemed dangerous. In 1887 Ettore Ferrari dedicated a monument to him on the exact spot of his death: he stands defiantly facing the Vatican, reinterpreted in the first days of a reunited Italy as a martyr to freedom of speech.
We followed the small streets and ended in Via della Pace and in front of Santa Maria dell'Anima; a Catholic church in central Rome, which for centuries has serviced the German community.
From here our next target was the Trevi Fountain, we crossed the inner city and arrived at a totally crowded fountain. The noise was amazing, it was like all school children in Italy had decided to go and visit that day. I think it was more crowded than the Vatican. We stayed only a short while shooting the obligatory pictures. The weather was slowly changing and we knew that we had to check out early from the hotel and having a whole day in rain before taking our plane home next evening made us decide to rent a car for the following day.
Our next goal was Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, or Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins. The church was originally commissioned by Pope Urban VIII, whose brother, Antonio Barberini, was a Capuchin friar. It is located at Via Veneto, close to Piazza Barberini but the church is most famous as an ossuary, known as the Capuchin Crypt, in which is displayed the bones of over 4,000 Capuchin friars, collected between the years of 1528 and 1870. The bones are fashioned into decorative displays in the Baroque and Rococo style. The popularity of the crypt as a tourist attraction once rivalled the Catacombs.