Italy Day 5: Hodge Podge of a Roman Free Day

February 3, 2012

Today (Saturday) the entire group headed out to Florence and Hadrian's Villa. I desperately wanted to go, but the cost of travel just wasn't worth a day trip in a bus. So instead of blowing money we hit the streets of Rome with no real agenda and enjoyed ourselves at a much slower pace. 
 Aqueducts in the middle of town close to the train station. 
 We had to stop by the train station to exchange more money. While we were there I thought I'd take a picture of their Christmas display. I loved how they wrote their Christmas wishes on paper and stuck them to the tree.

 Saint Maria Maggiore Basilica.
 I really had no clue this was a "big deal" place to visit until the next day when some of our group was talking about wanting to go there.
 My lack of Catholic knowledge just left me admiring the art and architecture and having no idea why this saint is important.
 Beautiful door handles.
 This thing looked really similar to the one we saw in the Vatican a few days later. I have no idea what it is though, if someone knows leave a comment telling me.
 Crypt of Santa Maria Maggiore.

 This prayer was written in several languages and placed in front of the urn containing her relics.
 The container holding relics of Santa Maria Maggiore.

 Ceiling of the church.

 Once out we wandered past a sculpture/bronze whatever they are called of Caesar...Julius or Augustus I will never know.
 Next stop was to tour the the Victor Emmanual Monument that we walked past so many times. The exhibit contained art and artifacts from the 1700s to present day. I will admit the older stuff was much more interesting, I just wasn't a fan of modern installations.
 Death mask of Cavour. So so cool. I have always wanted to see a death mask so when I came across this I nearly flipped.
 Be amazed, this is the pen and ink well used to sing the armistice at Villa Giusti on November 3, 1918 signifying the end of WWI. My little history loving self just stood here and stared.

 From the top of the building. Great views of the city, you could go higher but they charged 8 Euros.

 At this point I realized I was lost, and furious. I had been trying to keep up with Jeremy and Luke in this massive building and they were walking in opposite directions. In my efforts to find Luke I lost Jeremy. I seriously walked all over this balcony and didn't see a soul I knew.
 After exiting the balcony I walked for another hour through this building and its wide array of exhibits. About the time I hit the modern exhibit with its weird soap bar lined wall installation and camping tent in the middle of a white room I was furious. I paced up and down halls cursing under my breath while wondering what was the point of having a bloody bust in an old fridge was.
 Finally I went back to the top of the stairs to find Jeremy and Luke describing me to some lady. The exact lady who, when I realized I was unable to find the guys, wouldn't let me backtrack though the museum to find them. They of course accused me of running off, how someone runs off when they are looking for you I will never know.
 Colosseum from the top of the VE Monument.
 Ancient Rome.

 This is hands down my favorite picture from the trip. All over the city were these beggers who were completely covered in clothing. You couldn't see a spec of skin on them! As you walked past they would bang their cups on the ground while dangling their rosary from their hands. The first time I saw was I was kind of shocked. After a few I began to see the beauty behind it. Yes it is sad, I caught a lot of flack for taking the time to set up this picture...not that I told her to move, I just moved myself around. Something about this woman kneeling in a wet street in the center of Rome while people rushed past focused on their own lives is just so intriguing. How old is she? What color is her hair? Is she homeless? Or is she trying to make a profit off of the tourists like the street performers? Does she have children? Or is this even a woman? There is just so much mystery in this woman. I could literally stare at this picture for hours just wondering about her.
 Gelato shop by the Trevi Fountain.

 Should we start counting how many time I went past this fountain in one week?
Lovely Italian parking job, I would love to know how they get out because it looks like this on both sides. 

 Obama at the wax museum. This dude was so creepy I was giving him the one over and Jeremy pushed me towards it and I seriously yelped.
 I wish I could remember the name of this monk, but this mixture of wax people makes no sense at all.

 Walking back past the VE Monument. We did that a lot!
 Back in Ancient Rome.

 Walking into Chiesa Dei Ss. Luca E Martina. The church was just recently reopened to the public and lies in the hear of the Roman Forum. The foundation of this church is dedicated to the Roman martyr St. Martina and dates to the 7th century. This church was restored in the 13th century by Pope Alexander IV.
 The church floor was elevated and a new unvalted wood ceiling was added in 1618.
 There is a ton more about this place on their website

 The crypt.

 Outside the church in the Roman Forum.

 He just won't take a decent picture.

 Here my friends is where it got interesting, as if it weren't interesting enough. Behold the Basilica Di San Clemente, also known as the lasagna church. This is a "modern" church dating back to the 1200s, if you can call that modern. The modern church is built upon an early Christian Basilica dating to around 350 ( I think I wrote my dates down right), which is built upon a mystic church from around 1AD that was dedicated to the ancient Persian god Mithra. The lowers level, unlike the two upper levels teaches about Mithraeism and contains an ancient Roman house with a fresh spring flowing through it. Which you can still drink from. I didn't taste it because it smelled musty down there, but I did bend over the railing and stick my hand in it.
Sadly this was yet another place we couldn't take pictures. I was amazing though, I walked close to the tour guides so I could hear the history without paying the price :).

That evening we met up with the group and ate dinner, where I actually got my hands on a salad and some chicken. We also found a great gelato place after dinner that was very inexpensive. I came to realize quickly that the closer you were to tourist spots the higher the price.