Six Feet Under

The third day in Rome was rainy and gray, and as a result there's pretty much no pictures in this post.

In the morning we went to see "Bocca della Verità", or the "mouth of truth". Apparently this worn down piece of stone is famous for having been featured in the movie "Roman Holiday".

After that we took a bus, past the city walls of old Rome, to one of the many catacombs scattered around the outskirts of Rome. Burials were not allowed within the city walls of ancient Rome. Le Catacombe di San Callisto is known for having up to 16 popes buried there, among other martyrs and other figures in early Christianity. The Catacombs are managed by a monastic order that offers guided tours in English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish.

Since it was an "indoor day", our next stop was Basilica di San Clemente. This church is extremely interesting structurally due to the present church being built on an earlier converted church built in the 1st and 2nd centuries, and below that are foundations from a building during the Roman Republic. It's quite amazing and the stairs go down several levels to reach the lower levels. It was used for a period as a "safe house" of sorts and there is a trench where a fresh water spring was directed to run.

I thought I took pictures but it turns out I didn't.

In keeping with the "dead people" theme of the day, next stop was "The Protestant Cemetery" or "Cimitero Acattolico" (non-Catholic cemetery). It is located near the Pyramid of Cestius. The cemetery contains the tombs of non-Catholic foreigners, in particular, the graves of famous English poets Keats and Shelley.

Then it was off to one of the many famous plazas of Rome. The Piazza del Popolo ("People's Square") is famous for its symmetrical layout featuring a relocated Egyptian obelisk in the middle of the plaza, and flanked visually by twin churches (Santa Maria del Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto) at the entrance.

It can be extremely difficult to get a good shot here due to the high number of tourists milling about. The road does slope up a  bit facing the churches, so I recommend standing back more, almost to the archway.

To tie it into our theme of the day, Piazza del Popolo used to be one of the chosen executions sites of the Papal state during the 18th and 19th centuries. The public executions consisted of everything from simple beheading to hanging and quartering. 

It was here that I had the most expensive cup of cappuccino I have ever had in my entire life. I was feeling a bit unwell due to the cold and dampness, and desperately needed to sit down somewhere warm and have a hot drink. Unfortunately I chose Rosati, a famous cafe open since 1923. I suppose it was nice to see the atmosphere but I don't fancy paying 8 euros for a small cup of coffee. The cappuccino was indeed very good, but I don't see any particular reason to patronize this cafe unless either you have money to burn or really like fancy atmospheres.

After that it was to the famous "Spanish Steps" at Piazza di Spagna. Story goes that it used to be a famous spot for pretty girls to linger in hopes of catching the eyes of a painter. Later on, supposedly it was to try and catch the interests of famous movie directors.

There is of course also the famous scene from Roman Holiday of Audrey Hepburn on the steps.

The famous fountain, Fontana della Barcaccia, by Bernini was unfortunately undergoing restoration work, and so had was covered by rather ugly scaffolding.

The streets leading up to the Spanish Steps are all occupied by couture and luxury brands. Peddlers just steps away were hawking counterfeit goods. I wasn't there to shop, but had to stop to take a picture of the Dior store front.

A little ways away, there was a cart selling roasted chestnuts! A warm and welcome reprieve from the seeping coldness. I also finally manage to get a nice clear picture of one of the many Fiats roaming the streets of Italy.

Dinner that night was pizza! One seafood pizza and one with zucchini and prosciutto. The next day was to be the last in Rome and Italy.