Jeff's Blog - Saturday, September 27, 2014 - A Stop in Rome

Today was predicted to be low 80s and sunny in Rome, my day-stop between Siena and Naples. In five days when I'll return to Rome for the rest of my vacation, four days of rain are predicted, so I thought it best to sweat with outside stuff and save the museums for later, even though 80s is well beyond the purgatory threshold for me. I grabbed 6 hours from the itinerary of a future day, one where I rode out of the center of town and worked my way back on foot, with several stops. My first stop was Porta Latina, a gate in the Aurelian (ca. 300 AD) wall. After a carefully crafted subway ride, bus ride, and walk, it was, wait for it, covered for renovation. Onward to the Museum of the Wall, just one gate (about 5 blocks) over. Open for business! Walked along the top of the wall and read about its construction. On to the Tomb of the Scipios, of Scipio Africanus fame, the guy who defeated Hannibal and allowed Rome to survive, another 5 blocks walk. Buzzzzzz -- closed because of road construction on the road _behind_ the site -- WTF! Next stop: the Baths of Caracalla. This was one of those "next layer of detail" sites. My visit 2 years ago just left me with a general impression of awe, but now I understand what the various rooms were used for, the art that was once housed here, and the pieces of building that are missing. Unfortunately, I was also hoping to see the underground boiler rooms and passageways and a mithreum, all of which were opened just after my prior visit, but they are now closed. I was told they were unsafe and being worked on, but I suspect it's just money and staffing. After seeing all that I could, I went on to the Baths of Diocletian, to explore the areas of this huge complex outside of the main touristy part. While walking around this 5-block by 5-block site and finding the remains, I reached a church that was built in one of the corner exedras of the bath complex and was right across the street from one of my favorite spots in Rome. The photo below shows one of the lions at the base of the Moses Fountain. I just love the fake Egyptian hieroglyphics on each of the lions, and the church across the street whose name appears above his back is Santa Maria della Vittoria, the best tiny church in Rome, where Bernini's Ecstacy if St. Theresa is found. Couldn't pass it by, see http://jeffbondono.com/TouristInRome/SantaMariaDellaVittoria.html if interested (hope the untested link is correct). Next up was a small church that Bernini designed completely, gratis. It had a lot of Bernini touches, with his humor, his ability to draw you in, and his trait of adding detail on top of detail, always going two or three steps beyond excellence. A quick trip to an obelisk, statues, and fountain group that I took poor photos of before, was on the way back toward the train station. But before boarding, I had made a dinner reservation via email at the Terme di Diocleziano Restaurant, built in to the other corner exedra of the Baths of Diocletian. Walter recommended this stop, and I enjoyed the dinner of Veal Saltimbocca. Good call, Walter, if you're there to hear.... Next stop is a few more photos of the area now that the sun has set, and a train ride to Naples in about an hour. Tomorrow is the Naples Archaeological Museum, where the treasures of Pompeii, and many sculptures from the Baths of Diocletian, are housed. If time permits, I have a couple other sites lined up, but I'm expecting so much from this museum that I hope it doesn't. Please don't be closed for renovation.

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