Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Roma - the finale

What a slacker I am! It has been forever since I posted, and I just realized I never finished posting about our trip to Rome. So, here it is, the finale!

Rome day 5:

Our last day, our last chance to cram everything in that we hadn't managed to do yet. Plus, New Year's Day, so a lot of things are closed. And, of course, it is raining again.

We were up fairly early and caught the metro to the main station to catch a bus out to St. Lawrence. This church was on our "must see" list, but because it was towards the outskirts of town, we had difficulty finding our way out there. But, finally, we found the right bus and somehow managed to get off at the right stop. Not an easy feat because on Roman buses, they do not announce what stop they are coming to. They also don't stop at every stop if there isn't someone obviously waiting near the sign, so you have to press the button to get off well ahead of your stop. Total luck that we hit the right stop.

St. Lawrence

St. Lawrence was a very unassuming church. The draw for us was the relics it contains. Inside are the remains of St. Lawrence and St. Stephen. St. Stephen was the first martyr as well as one of the "original" deacons. St. Lawrence was a deacon during the Valerian persecution. When ordered to present the treasure of the Church to the emperor, he presented the poor and crippled, claiming they were the true treasure of the Church. He was then sentenced to death by gridiron. The story goes that when he was on the iron he called out, "This side’s done, turn me over and have a bite." Gotta love a sarcastic saint!

After St. Lawrence, we headed back towards the area we needed to be in to visit St. Agatha's, another must see on our list. At this point, I was seriously concerned that I was going to miss St. Agatha because we knew they were closing at noon, and from the metro stop we had quite a hike to get there. Somehow, we made it and it was worth all the effort. A beautiful church, very quiet and unobtrusive. Plus, as I mentioned before, St. Agatha is the patron saint of breast cancer, so it was extremely important for me to pray there, in her church.

St. Agata di Goti

St. Agatha having her breasts cut off during her martyrdom

After St. Agatha, we returned to the garden we found a few days earlier.

Ground level, with stairs leading to second level

Second level, with stairs leading to third level

Top level, complete with walking paths, orange trees, statuary and fountains

After this, we were getting hungry, so we walked around trying to find some lunch. It is a little frustrating to be on an American eating schedule (lunch mid-afternoon) in a country where most restaurants are closed when you are hungriest! Eventually, we found a cafe to eat in and after a leisurely lunch, continued to simply wander around Rome. We walked up Via Nazionale until we reached the Republica area. A beautiful fountain in the center of a very busy roundabout. I can't believe I was able to get a picture with no cars!

Republica piazza with Basilica in the background

While here, we visited the Basilica dei Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martin (Mary of the Angels and Martyrs). Another beautiful church, this one built in the Baths of Diocletian. One of the very cool things about this church is that it has a meridian line. Similar to the Mayan temples in Mexico, a ray of light shines through a hole in the ceiling to a marker on the floor that determines Easter and verified the validity of the Gregorian calendar. We didn't get to see it "working" since it was overcast and raining, but very cool nonetheless.

After a bit more wandering, we headed back to the hotel for a break. Later, we were off to the Piazza Navona (in the rain) where they were having a New Year's carnival. We ended up eating gelato (yes, in the rain) and these yummy donuts that were the size of dinner plates. We walked over near the Pantheon and found a great little restaurant for dinner, then back to the hotel to rest for a few hours. Up at 3 am to leave for the airport!

Overall, Rome was an incredible experience. A few oddities here and there (no toilet seats in some public restrooms) took some adjusting and the weather was less than perfect. In the end, a trip that we both look forward to making again in a few years, hopefully with all the kids once they are a little older and can appreciate everything.

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