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Farewell to Carla (for now), St. Giovanni in Laterano, Scala Sancta...

Rome Travel Blog

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Sleepy heads!

Danny and I were up and had finished breakfast by 9, but getting the girls to wake up was another story!  Of course, missing breakfast at this hotel may be the best thing you can do...  The only good thing, for Danny anyway, is the Nutella which he likes on bread.  I had a cup of coffee and we finished very quickly.  It was extremely crowded anyway and there were people waiting to sit down. We went back to the room, got Carla and Alex and headed down Via Cavour to the Imperial Forums which were built between 42 BC and AD 112 (and were largely buried by Mussolini in 1933 to build Via dei Fori Imperiali)  On the way we went inside the Church of Santa Maria dei Monti Situated on the sloping terrain above the ancient forums of Rome, near Via Cavour, at 41 Via della Madonna del Monti. The church was commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII in 1580 to celebrate the discovery of a miraculous 15th century image of the Virgin Mary with Sts Lawrence and Stephen which now hangs over the high altar.

Santa Maria Maggiore

 

Also, along the way we stopped at a little shop and got something to eat for breakfast • a fantastic Panini with prosciutto and cheese with lettuce.  It was really good.   We then looked at the foro di Traiano (Trajan’s forum) which is incredible.   My favorite thing there is Trajan’s column with beautiful sculpture depicting his battles spiraling up the entire column.  They are regarded as the finest example of Roman sculpture.  There is an extremely handy diagram on a stand overlooking the site where you can see what each structure you are viewing actually was.  Information diagrams are located throughout the Forums and they are very helpful.  Another notable structure is a large semicircular building which was Trajan’s market. 

 

After plenty of time at the Forums looking around and figuring out what everything was, we headed to Piazza Venezia and the huge marble “Vittoriano” • monument to Vittorio Emmanuele II who was the first king of reunified Italy.

Chiesa di S. Maria ai Monti (1580-1600)
  The monument includes the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  The views of Rome from atop the monument are fantastic.  Inside there is a large museum “Museo Centrale del Risorgimiento” which I didn’t find particularly interesting.  We had fun laughing about a lady that was doing some incredible posing in front of the monuments while having her picture taken.  We also talked to a couple who noticed that the kids are from Spain and are headed there on the next leg of their trip.  They were asking about Barcelona. 

 

There are lots of military odds and ends including a couple pairs of Garibaldi’s trousers.  From there we walked next door to the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli which is a beautiful sixth century church at the top of a steep fouteenth century staircase on the summit of Capitoline Hill.

Chiesa di S. Maria ai Monti (1580-1600)
  Before the church was built here a Roman temple to Juno Moneta • an ancient Roman goddess that guarded over the finances of the Empire.  According to legend it was here that Tiburtine Sibyl told Augustus of the coming birth of Christ.  The sixteenth-century ceiling is very impressive.  A bride and groom were taking having their wedding pictures taken on the stairs.  We walked down those stairs and, at the bottom, bought Carla and Alex a Rome T shirt and sweatshirt.  After that we had to head back to the hotel quickly and get Carla to the train to the airport.  It was 1 p.m., the plane leaves at 3:30... She had plenty of time. 

 

We walked her all the way to the train, got her ticket and stayed until the train left.  I felt pretty sad about saying goodbye to my daughter, but we'll all be back together soon.

Looking towards the coliseum from Via Cavour
 

 

Danny felt like a hamburger, so we went to McDonalds by Termini... The most filthy McDonald’s that I have ever seen.  Amazingly dirty.  It’s sad to see how poorly everything is maintained here and how generally unfriendly the people are.  We decided to head south by metro to San Giovanni where Rome’s cathedral the “Basilica de San Giovanni in Laterano” is located. This immense church and the adjacent Lateran Palace were officially dedicated by Pope Sylvester I in 324, The Papal Throne was placed in its interior making it the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome.  It was nearly completely destroyed in the ninth century by an earthquake and fell victim to fire in 1308 and again in 1360.

Trajan's Forum
  Throughout all of these reconstructions it maintained its original form.  The Gothic baldachin supposedly contains the heads of St. Peter and St. Paul as relics. 

 

We visited the cathedral and its cloister and then headed through a side door to the square in front of the Lateran Palace which has an obelisk commissioned by Pharaoh Thuthmose III and completed by his grandson Thutmose IV in Karnak.  It was originally placed in the Circus Maximus before being re-erected here.  We walked around the plaza until we found the chapel with the Holy Stairs.

 

Some information I found:  The Scala Sancta or Holy Stairs (Italian: Scala Santa) is a Christian monument in Rome, Italy.

Trajan's Forum
It consists of twenty-eight white marble steps, now encased by wooden steps, located in a building which incorporates part of the old Lateran Palace, located opposite San Giovanni Laterano.  According to tradition, the staircases were part of the praetorium of Pilate in Jerusalem, hence were sanctified by the footsteps of Jesus Christ during his Passion.[1] They are located next to a church which was built on ground brought from Mount Calvary, and now lead to what was the private chapel of the Lateran palace, known as the chapel of St. Lawrence or Sancta Sanctorum.

 

Medieval legends claim that the Holy Stairs were brought from Jerusalem to Rome about 326 by St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great.  This is probably the only religious site I’ve seen in Rome that has a spiritual atmosphere.

Statue of Caesar on Via dei Fori Imperiali built by Mussolini
  No one was shouting at people not to take pictures and people were quiet and respectful!  The staircase is so sacred that you can only go up them on your knees.  Alex and Danny were enthusiastic about the idea and I followed!  (my legs are still sore days later).  The original staircase has a protective wooden covering but you can stick your fingers through it and touch the original marble below.  Anyhow, it was quite an uncomfortable experience, at least for my 46 year old knees!  Upstairs there is a beautiful chapel. 

 

We walked from the Holy Stairs back to the Cathedral where Alex bought a little rosary and found a priest to bless it for her. After that we walked around the area a little more, found a place to buy something to drink and wrote postcards.  Alex was feeling cold, so we headed back to the hotel for a sweater.

Trajan's Forum
  On the way I managed to get in touch with Carla who arrived safely back in Barcelona.  We stayed in the hotel room for about half an hour, tired from all the walking, and then headed out again.  First, we headed down Via Cavour for another Gelato that I had promised to Danny.  The ice cream here is really great!

 

We walked along side streets past some little plazas towards the Imperial Forums. The late afternoon sunlight was beautiful and we took a lot of pictures.  We walked past Piazza Venezia and aimlessly onward looking for a nice place for dinner. Unfortunately, the place we ended up at, called "Trattoria della Torre Argentina" wasn’t good at all, but the three of us had a nice time anyway.  Here was one place that didn’t force the tip on you • unfortunately even without a guaranteed tip, the waiters weren’t very motivated to give good, friendly service.

Trajan's Forum
 

 

After dinner we enjoyed the walk back to the hotel.  This city is beautiful at any time of the day or night.  I'm sorry to see this trip rapidly finish...

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Sleepy heads!
Sleepy heads!
Santa Maria Maggiore
Santa Maria Maggiore
Chiesa di S. Maria ai Monti (1580-…
Chiesa di S. Maria ai Monti (1580…
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Model of the coliseum in beer cans!
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Cloister - San Giovanni in Laterano
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Façade of Sta Maria ai Monti
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I like all of the little statues …
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photo by: vulindlela