First whole day in Rome:
- We visited some empty catacombs off the ancient Roman road, the Appian Way. They were empty due to destructive looting by invading barbarians many hundreds of years ago. Bones were re-buried in mass graves later, though still hundreds of years ago. Our 30-minute tour barely touched the 20 kilometers and four levels of passages. No pictures were allowed below ground.
- Due to a slight misdirection on our bus ride home from the catacombs, we accidentally came upon the Pope’s Cathedral, the church of which the pope is actually bishop. More proper name: Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.
- After lunch I unwittingly joined an excursion to a horrifying crypt of several rooms of human bones arranged in “artistic” patterns – the Capuchin Crypt. Google for pictures. Centuries ago some disturbed monk, observant of the available skeletons of some three or four thousand dead and buried monks, requested permission to turn their remains into art. The higher-ups let him. The skeletal remain, which had been peacefully resting, were dismembered and tacked up, piled, and wired together in chains, small chandeliers, looping swirls, and symmetrical piles of identical bones. It is passed off as a sober contemplation of death. Nope. I don’t buy it. It was and is horrible, disrespectful, and gross.
- We had pizza – ordered and fetched by the boys from a cafe down the road – and salad for supper. Italian food is wonderful.
- Mel Gibson once stayed in the apartment in which we reside here in Rome.
- Travertine, a type of whiteish limestone, is absolutely everywhere in Rome. It’s a bit of a shame, as its natural pores and crevices fill with grime, producing a perpetually dirty appearance. However, I’m sure it must have been readily available, and it seems to have held up reasonably well through the centuries.