Tuesday-Still in Rome, this time learning a little more about the ancient Rmans and about events in mor recent times. We met up with Francesca, the same guide who had taken us through the Colisseum, just across the Tiber near the Ponte Sisto bridge. We started at a church, St. Barthelomew’s, where she taught us a little about the heraldry that we see on many o the churches. From there we passed the Synagoge and into the Jewish ghetto created during WW II. She brought us to a spot that is commemorated in Italian history and taught to every Italian child. On October 16, 1943, after Italy had surrendered to the Allies and then been brutally occupied by the Germans, German soldiers came into the ghetto in the middle of the night and took 1000 women and children out of their homes and drove them away to concentration camps. Only 15 returned. She showed us the house of one man who had fled earlier and returned to find that 9 members of his household had been taken and never returned.It is a sad time in Italian history, but an important one to remember so that it never happens again.
We walked through the neighborhood, stopping at one of the fountains in the ghetto and a lovely courtyard with preserved Roman states in it. We spent some time at some Roman ruins that included crypts that were being excavated where human bones could be seen, then we walked up to the partially restored Roman theatre on our way to the Capitoline Museum on Capitoline Hill.
The museum is known for its original bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius on a his horse, a copy of which graces the square formed by the President’s house, the museum, and another building. The only reason he didn’t get melted down with all the rest of the Roman bronzes was that folks thought that he was Constantine, so the church assured that the statue was preserved.
The museum had other examples of Roman art and culture, including some pieces that were from a Roman Horti (villa). When we finished our tour of the museum with Francesca, we went to the cafeteria in the museum for a light lunch and a great view of the city.
We then completed our visit by touring the “Lux in Arcana” exhibit. These were exhibits of the original papers from the secret archives of the Vatican. It included letters from Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, papal bulls, the letter to the Pope from Henry the Eighth seeking an annulment of his marriage (the first one), and several other interesting pieces. No photos were allowed, so you just have to be there.
From there we took a trek to San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains). We walked down Cavour street and Susan's GPS said we were right there, but we couldn't see it. But there was this stairway (almost to heaven it seemed) that took us right up there. We arrived there shortly before 3:00, and hardly anyone was there. Then 2 minutes before the church opened at 3:00, a huge crowd showed up and almost trampled the priest who opened the doors. St. Peter in Chainswas built from 432 A.D. to 440 A.D. and has been renovated several times since. It is known for its holding of the relic chains that bound St. Peter when he was held captive in Jerusalem and in Rome. The ones in Rome were struck off by an angel who helped him escape. According to legend, when Pope Leo I was given the chains that had imprisoned St. Peter in Jerusalem he compared them to the chains of St. Peter's final imprisonment in the Mamertine Prison in Rome. The two chains miraculously fused together. They are held in a reliquary under the main altar. It also has a Michelangelo statue of Moses along with some other works perhaps started by Michelangelo but finished by his students, all of which are part of a tomb for Pope Julius II.
Susan had purchased post cards of the Vatican when we took our Vatican tour. She industriously filled them out earlier, so now it was time for a pilgrimage to the Vatican to mail the postcards. We were told we could mail them from anywhere in Rome and they would go out, and we passed several very acceptable post offices, but we wanted the Vatican postmark on these cards. It ws somewhat of a miracle anyway that Susan was mailing postcards while we were still traveling, so a pilgrimage sis seem in order. We did not try to do this on our knees, we took the Metro. We did do some serious walking to get there from the Metro station.
Once we had deposited the postcards in the Holy Post Box, we decided to take a different way home. And different it was. We walked along a road that looked like it would take us back to our hotel, but it turned out we were on a road that had fence on one side and high wall on the other side and nothing but (what seemed like) miles of road until we could get somewhere to turn down the road to our hotel. But it was a nice walk—we were in the shade, we had a beautiful forested valley to our right most of the way, and we got a chance to look over some very nice villas on the right. Once we finally made it to the turn, we had a beautiful view of Rome from the south, right next to the Spanish Embassy. We walked down to the hotel and collapsed.
We managed to make it to dinner, but we didn’t go very far. We ate at the PonteSisto restaurant in Trastavere and went back to the hotel and bed.