We said goodbye to Ryan this morning at the Rome airport. His vacation was over but he really seemed to enjoy his 2 weeks with us seeing places he had learned about in his history classes. I will miss his running commentary as we toured different sites and his easy recall of facts and figures. Now I might just have to make up stuff that I can’t remember.
For the rest of the day, Monica and I decided to explore our neighborhood, Trastevere, away from the busy city center. The air is a few degrees cooler here compared to downtown although by noon, it was already pushing 30 degrees. We started with a wonderful seafood lunch not far from the train station. I started with the salmon sushi salad and then the mixed fish risotto with octopus AND squid, clams AND mussels, and 2 kinds of shrimp…one as large as a small lobster. Perhaps the best meal of all on this vacation, so far.
The rest of the afternoon was spent strolling through the streets and into 3 churches to escape the heat and enjoy the artwork. First, Santa Maria in Trastevere claims to be the oldest church in Rome and the first one dedicated to Mary. The exterior isn’t much (like all the buildings in Trastevere) but the interior is astounding.
Next, San Francesco a Ripa with something there very special. A Bernini sculpture “Beata (Blessed) Ludovica Albertoni” of this Roman noble woman who joined the St. Francis order after the death of her husband and devoted the rest of her life to helping the poor. The sculpture portrays her in ecstacy during mystical communication with God. It has similar concept and design features to the one we couldn’t see yesterday because the church was closed. I’m so glad we saw this one. It is exquisite.
Finally, Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. This is the first time I have seen anything dedicated to Santa Cecilia, the Patron Saint of music. Another surprise, as we entered this beautiful church, the nuns were singing their prayer chants at the front of the church. The acoustics were amazing…even though they were singing quietly, the sound carried clearly to all parts of the church. Other tourists were gathered as well… no one making a sound as we all enjoyed their ethereal voices.
We really appreciated the authenticity of this old part of Rome, watching locals going about their Saturday, old men sharing lively debate on park benches, kids playing in the streets, a wedding, begger women seeking a few coins and the lovely Tiber River flowing past it all. Really wonderful.
We finished the day with a stroll to Piazza Garibaldi, high up on the top of Monte Verde at Gianicolo Hill to see the breathtaking panoramic view of Roma. The sun was behind us illuminating the city and we could easily pick out many of the landmarks we had seen over the past three days.
That’s it for Rome. Time now to pack our bags for the next adventure and head south to Capri. We are looking forward to slowing the pace a little, hopefully (wink).