Friday, June 8, 2007

Trip to Rome -- Day 5

Our last day in Rome (Monday) was a little more laid back, as we were just doing a few things that we hadn’t yet done. As we headed out, we noticed the trash was being collected, the streets were being swept, windows being washed--so we are guessing that Monday morning is clean up time around Rome. Rome is quite a clean big city. Then as we were walking by Trevi fountain we saw them vacuuming/cleaning it; we were very impressed. But then they stopped vacuuming and started loading all the money that people threw into the fountain into bags--man, what a loot! In one of the shops we bought souvenirs for the kids. The elderly couple who owned the store were very nice. I bought a cap that says “Italia” on it and has three gold stars on it. The man explained that they are for the three World Cups Italy has won. “So,” he said to me, “when we win this year, you have to sew on another star.” I told him that if they win this year I’ll come back and by another cap on it with four stars. Well, wouldn’t you know it, later on in the year Italy went and won the World Cup. So… what that means is that I have to keep my promise to the man. One of these days I have to get back to Rome so I can buy another cap. In the meantime, I really like my cap with three stars on it which I now have standing for the Trinity rather than World Cups.

Then on to the Campo di Fiori, which is an open air market. A lot of flowers, vegetables, fruit, pasta, seasonings, and of course souvenirs. We bought some pasta, tomato sauce, and seasoning. Then we went on a walk that was suggested by one of our guide books. It really wasn’t all that exciting, but still a nice walk through certain neighborhoods in Rome. We first went across the bridge to the other side of the Tiber. We found a very cool church which had much more of a feel of a church than most of the churches here, which are so heavily ornamented by saints that you can forget that you can go into a church and just focus on Jesus. Then we went across another bridge to an island that is right in the middle of Rome (it’s in the middle of the Tiber). Interestingly enough, there is a hospital on this very small island. Then we went back to our original side of the Tiber and headed in the direction of San Giovanni so that I could complete my pilgrimage as Luther did so many centuries ago. ;-) We walked along the Circus Maximus and saw some cool ruins across the street from it. When we finally found a restaurant there was only one waitress and it was taking a long time and there was a very long line for the restroom so we decided to find something else. We found a small place selling sandwiches and thought that the guy understood that we wanted tomatoes on our sandwich, but when we finally got the communication straightened out we understood that the tomatoes were all gone. Oh well, on to San Giovanni.

We first had to find out where this Sancta Santorum Chapel was so we could find the steps. We found an information booth and found out that the chapel is a separate building across the street from San Giovanni. But it opened again at 3 p.m. (many of the churches here close during lunch time). It was only 2 o’clock so we went outside and sat on the steps of the church. Then at 3 we went over to the chapel. You go through the doors and then before you are the steps. Well, some people got in front of me and I guess I’m glad they did because I did not expect people to still be ascending these steps on their knees and kissing each one. But these people were taking it seriously so I quickly stepped aside and Sara and I went up the side steps to the top and looked at the altar areas they had up top. So we didn’t take pictures of these steps that are supposed to have been brought over by Constantine’s mom from Jerusalem and the very steps Jesus walked up when He was on trial before Pilate. It made me sick to see those people making their way slowly up that stairway putting their trust in their own efforts rather than the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Very sad.

We then went to San Clemente church. This is a church built on top of a church built on top of a mithraic temple. Somewhere around the third or fourth century a temple to Mithras was built and the altar is still there. This is two levels below the current San Clemente. Then one level below the current San Clemente, there are frescoes that are very cool depicting scenes such as the resurrection, the last judgment, Christ’s decent into limbo (to save those faithful that had died before Christ died for them), and Clement officiating Mass. There was also a very cool Christian altar. In tremendous shape, although we’re not sure if it’s from the original church or if it was put in later. It’s a simple altar but just quite a sight there in those ancient remains of a cultic temple that was converted into a sanctuary to “the one true God”, as the sign said. On the main level is the current church and a tremendous sight as so many, actually all of them, of the churches were.

We then went to a church that was by the train station that on the outside looks like ancient ruins but on the inside is spectacular like all the others. There is a huge freestanding organ. The pipes went almost to the ceiling and there were many different sizes of them, even some that went straight out horizontally. We had never seen a freestanding pipe organ like that before. Then we headed back, getting some gelato on the way. Eating gelato was pretty much an every day occurrence as the stuff is really good. We ate it on the way back to the room and then we packed, because we have to leave the hotel at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow morning to catch our flight. Then out for our final night out and our final meal in Rome. American of course. We looked at some Italian places that had these greenhouse type of structures on the sidewalk. We just weren’t in the mood so went back to the Hard Rock Café and had a great waitress from Manilla and a great meal.

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