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Incredible sights, from art to archaeology to early church history

Rome

Wednesday - Sunday
12-16 October

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Rome, then, embraces my initial paths wandering Italian soil in 2022. So much history is fixed here, events we all learned about (or should have) since grammar school. Romulus and Remus, Catullus, Cicero, Julius Caesar and adopted heir Augustus, first-bishop Peter, pre-Stradivarius Nero, a whole catalog of Popes, famous and infamous.

Much of the history has its own mementos in the artifacts that are carefully tended and explained — often with a fun mixture of scholar's acuity and imaginative humor. For myself, it is again a conflict between sites with whole hordes of visitors, standing shoulder to shoulder with smartphones held aloft toward, say, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel ... between that scenario, as I say, and less-traveled paths through ruins with their own stories clutched between bricks held with Roman-invented mortar. Under the Colosseum (see below photo), that is, rather than revisiting its more calendar-page skyline.

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There must be time to visit the Palatine Hill and ancient Roman Forum, to walk around and touch the old stones. To imagine and contemplate, to try to capture what visual/audio reminders as I may be able to — a video is under mental pre-construction even now.

And this ... I want to spend reflective time in the presence of some shadows of my centuries-ago spiritual siblings. Not to get a shiver or buzz walking past a stash of old monks' bones piled high, as in some Capuchin-guarded ossuary, either. No, it's more just being

in the little rooms down there in the catacombs, where those faithful to Jesus assembled, where they buried their dead, declaring their certainty that even mighty (pre-Constantine) Rome did not have the final authority. Not on earth and certainly never in Heaven.

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Crossing the street now to the Stazione Roma Termini, to rumble northward to the home of the Etruscans—

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une fois encore