Monday, October 7, 2013

Crypts, Bones and Catacombs in Rome!

We left off trying to get from Castel Sant'Angelo to our meeting spot for our afternoon tour in time....we knew we were cutting it quite close!  And I’m pretty sure our taxi driver went the longest way possible! We had to get from the Castel Sant’Angelo to Piazza Barberini. On the map it looked pretty straightforward, but the ride seemed pretty roundabout! But then again, I don’t know which roads are the best to take! We barely arrived on time, but we made it!  Keith would be meeting us here, since he took the morning off from the Vatican tour, and look at that...he made it! Whew – we did it!

We met up with Keith who was very proud that he had managed to navigate the streets of Rome alone and made it from our apartment to Piazza Barberini on his own! Apparently the map I left him wasn't the most detailed and the people he asked for directions kept pointing him towards the Trevi Fountain when he told them he had to meet at the fountain at Piazza Barberini! But we made it and we were all together and on time!

Once again, our tour was with Walks of Italy and it was their Crypts, Bones and Catacombs Tour! Italy Underground! We were all really looking forward to this one. Something really a bit different! Our guide was Mike and he was awesome!

Unfortunately no pictures were allowed at any of the sites we went to. But, I'll post some images I have found online - as long as you realize that they are not my images and I'll give credit where credit is due!  These places are fascinating! Each and every place was unique and incredible! So this is where my pictures for the day sort of stop. I think I have maybe two more! Then it was cameras away. It about killed me! EEK! 

First we took a van to the Catacombs of Santa Priscilla.

This is where the first Christians buried their dead. This was absolutely fascinating!

Waiting for our group to start the tour!

*** Note the pictures below are not my pictures, but ones I found on Google that other people have taken. ****

We saw the tombs of the wealthy – which included the “woman in the Robe”,

the middle class, and the regular class people. 

There were tombs that would have been for children, including infants. Those are the smaller spaces.  It was absolutely incredible!

We also saw an image of what was believed to be the first painting of the Virgin Mary.

Our guide, Mike, was so enthusiastic; he made the place come alive for us. Which I suppose is a bit ironic since it's a burial site!

After the Catacombs, we got back into the van and went to the Capuchin Crypts. This is where the Capuchin Monks decorated the walls of the crypts with the bones of their dead. They had nowhere to bury them. So in order to honor their brothers they positioned their bones in this way. Each crypt has a different symbolic meaning in its arrangement. Again, it was totally fascinating. There is a small museum that you walk through before entering the crypt area.   This crypt is actually indescribable.  Here is a picture I found of one of the crypts.  Again, there are five or six different rooms with different symbolic arrangements, all very different, but something like you see here.

Our next stop was the Cathedral of San Clemente. This is a Cathedral built in the 12th century, which is built on top of a Cathedral built in the 4th century, which is built on top of a 2nd century structure below! They even believe there may be another structure below that one!

We got to go all the way down to that 2nd century structure! Can you imagine discovering this? It was discovered because the person in the 12th century church kept hearing running water. They dug for it and found the 4th century Cathedral. They still heard running water below that and kept digging and found the 2nd century structure where you can actually still see the running water! There is a natural spring that runs through there!

Mike just kept bringing us deeper and deeper into the ground and telling us the history of this building and what was below each level. He told us the symbolism of the pieces that were found in the 2nd century area. I was hanging on his each and every word!

After visiting the underground areas, we went into the current day Cathedral of San Clemente which is quite pretty. The floor seems to be a bit off level and you wonder as you stand there why it’s not collapsing into the ground that we just walked below!

This was another fantastic tour! Alex talked Mike’s ear off during this tour. It was his kind of afternoon! Bones, underground, and crypts! Mike was a terrific guide!

My parents and Megan decided to take a taxi back to our apartment. This Cathedral was fairly close to the Colosseum, so Mike pointed us in the right direction and Keith, Alex and I decided to walk back to the apartment.

We sat out on our balcony with some wine and relaxed a bit before heading to dinner. We ate at a place fairly close to our hotel. It was good. I think it may have been one of the only meals we had where we ate inside though! On the walk back, we stopped for some gelato and called it a day.

Tomorrow is our last day in Italy…we head to Fallo! The purpose of the trip after all! Mimi gets to go to the town where her family came from!  And just a little teaser - it was such an amazing day!  Everything we could have hoped for, really!

Of all the pictures, I'd say the ones from today are probably my least favorite. First because the Vatican was so crowded I felt so rushed taking them! And second because I couldn't take pictures of the places I enjoyed the most...The Sistine Chapel or any of the afternoon tour. Not that I don't like the ones I have, but I feel like there's a big gap in today's photos!

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