Saturday, October 06, 2007

Rome redux

Trevi Fountain

As Travis noted in the comments in my previous post, I have a certain fascination for Catholic religious iconography. There’s a number of reasons for this, almost none of which have anything to do with my own religious heritage (having been dunked as an infant, I can ignore it until the penultimate moment, say sorry, and still get a ticket to the Big Show. Betcha they regret letting word of that little loophole out).

For one with my interests (Amynah might characterize it as an obsession) all roads lead to Rome (I just came up with that phrase. Remember it).

St Pete's

We didn’t see the Pope, but I did see dozens of priests (all on cell phones) a few monks, two bishops, nuns in every hue of habit from black to deep blue and, in a sighting that would probably earn me twenty points on a scavenger hunt, an honest to goodness cardinal.

Nun, keeping an eye on St Peter's square, plotting something

Because we arrived only an hour before closing, we didn’t see much in St Peter’s itself: the area with Pete’s grave was barred off. We saw a couple of pickled Popes in glass caskets, many Pope statues (only one, interestingly, that was depicted praying) and Michelangelo’s Pieta, his only signed work.


Outside the many, many churches of Rome, we saw plenty of old Roman ruins. The Colosseum (named, I learned, after a long destroyed and brobdignagan statue of my favourite Emperor and yours, Nero) was surprisingly only a ten minute tour, while the Forum and Palantine hill next to it was another hour. We took another No Name tour for this one, and they were just as competent and the previous one. The guide, Marco, was a particular hit with the many older ladies in our group, who were practically cooing over him.

Ye olde hockey arena: Senators vs Bruins tonight!

We ran across another ruin in the middle of town. To go by the prominence of the signs there, it was primarily built as a shelter for feral cats (all of which, we were assured, were spayed). It also might have been a temple complex, but that seemed to be of far less importance.

Temple to Bobbus Barkerius

Coming from a town where traffic is practically banned downtown, Rome’s traffic was quite a noisy shock. Half the population rides scooters, even while dressed for a five-star dinner. These tend to arrive in flocks, desperately trying to stay ahead of the four-wheeled traffic bearing down on them from behind. The buses, we discovered, have two speeds: barreling and hurtling. Cars do not stop at crosswalks, and waiting for a gap in traffic is a mugs game (they don’t call it the Eternal City for nothing). The accepted means of getting across seems to be: pick a saint, pray to it, close eyes, start walking. Amynah, being fearless, just gave drivers an “I dare you” look and strode into the chaos while Val, Andy and I scampered in her wake.

Piazza de la Scooter Sacra

Near the Forum (and also where we saw the Cardinal) there was some sort of street festival going on. It's hard to make out from the picture, but this is a faux church steeple, on which a full band is being carried, bouncing up and down in time to the dancer/porters below. When we left the party, they were playing a high energy Italian version of Petula Clark's "Downtown." When Amynah asked a spectator what it was for, he tried to convince her to stay and join the dancing.

In our wanderings, we also ran across a post-wedding photo shoot. This crowd of twenty was the bridal party. There's no shortage of lovely backdrops for wedding photos - puts my Holiday Inn pictures to shame. Mind you, our photographer never made our wedding party do this:

And, just because I took a lot of pictures of the thing, and this is the best of the lot, I give you St Peter's, again, over the Tiber. Enjoy!


Travis said...

Is the Colosseum a mix of old and new structures? From your photo it looks like there's a new and viable wall circling the utterly blasted inner walls.

Victor said...

Mark - love your posts, even when you aren't suffering, but I must say, sometimes your photo captions are even better! Keep it coming.

Mark Reynolds said...

Travis: Nope - it's all old, except for an interior cross in memory of all the Christians that were not, in fact, thrown to the lions there (they were elsewhere, but we learned that was strictly B-list entertainment in Rome). What blew me away is that all those non-window holes in the wall are from where the metal holding the whole thing together was removed in the Middle Ages, and it's still standing.

Victor: Thanks muchly! I'm blushing. Have I mentioned you're an excellent commenter? And handsome too?

Natalie Joan said...

Love that last photo. Dave and I were in Rome 4 years ago now (can't believe it was that long). I loved it, especially the Colosseum. I was deadly sick that day, but too in awe to care.

Mark Reynolds said...

Nat - there's no quicker route into my good books than complimenting those rare occasions that I manage to take a decent photo. Agreed the colosseum was a highlight. They don't make 'em like that anymore.