Monday, August 1, 2016

Into Rome, exploring the layers

In his work Rome, art critic Robert Hughes confesses to get overwhelmed by some of the religiosity of the Vatican Museum. There are some places he just cannot go every time he comes. One place he cannot bear to miss is Campo de’ Fiori, with the statue of heretic Giordano Bruno by Ettore Ferrari looming in the distance. He loves the fried artichoke he gets for lunch he makes his way through the Eternal City.
Our first full day out, we walk out to drop off the smelly laundry of two weeks of hiking, exploring the market at Campo de’ Fiori, Bruno looming in the distance.
Wandering through the stores of olive oil, we want to bring everything home. This is part of the charm of this space, it’s a modern city, build on the ruins of an ancient civilization and culture.
We walk to Largo Argentina, the piazza where Julius Caesar is thought to have met his assassins. This is perhaps my favorite space in Rome for perhaps no other place in this city quite demonstrates the overlapping layer of civilization here. Most people come here because of the bus stop. Others arrive to look at the cats lounging in the sun in between the temples, Etruscan and Roman ruins below. You literally have pieces of multiple civilizations – ancient and modern - coexisting together.
I love to try to find a glimpse of as many cats as I can.
We spend all day exploring the layers of the ruins.
“Its fun having you be my traveling partner,” smiled Caroline. We’ve been here with number one and mom before. But its number two’s first trip here.
So we wander to explore the Forum and the Coliseum and the Palatine Hill. Along the way, we wander between Augustus Caesar’s palace and the stadium, the Santa Maria Antiqua, where the image of Madonna and Child and frescos are majestic. The church was laid out in the first century AD, dedicated to the Cult of Mary. From there we get some lunch. Caroline orders fried artichokes. We sit in awe at what we’ve seen. That’s the feeling over and over, overwhelmed, tired, excited again. After lunch we explore the coliseum and its blood lust, wondering what it have been like to be there for it, how it was made, what it was like when it was filled with water. Palatine Hill is next. We have to haggle to get back in, but we beg and plead and find the right guard to let us back. And wander these relics deep into the afternoon, meandering through the Grifi House (a typical Roman house), Huts of Romulus (mythical founder of Rome), Temple of Cybele (goddess of fertility), courtyard of Domus Flavia (with mirror-like marble), House of Livia (has intriguing wall paintings), the Cryptoporticus (an underground gallery), Domus Augustana (home of emperors), and the Palace of Septimius Severus with its stadium.
All in all, we walk some ten k by 5:30 when we make our way back to Campo di Fiore for gelatos to meet our friends and greet Bruno, another day for the age in this eternal city.

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