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Incredible sights, from art to archaeology to early church history

Rome

Three nights

Roma Termini shown here, the city hub of transport. Our apartment is several blocks to the west. This vast and lively and ancient city surely deserves more time than we are able to give it. 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, and a whole catalog of Popes, both famous and infamous. And me here with a fervent anti-bucket list mentality. Hmm.

Two things in particular I would like to experience: one a Rome-by-night excursion—in part for the mystique of a place fully come alive, and in part for the uniquely-primed  populace abroad then (not so much standing with mobs shoulder to shoulder with smartphones held aloft toward, say, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel). And secondly I would like to revisit the Via Appia and again marvel at the St Callixtus catacombs site, dozens of meters below the sunny meadows.

... I fell off one of these, last time.

Even though I spent some time down in these very high-ceiling underground hallways which are lined with tens of thousands of (now empty) niches, it's worth experiencing all over again for the subliminal appreciation of history that may be found here, or hopefully be implanted within. If you should descend to these hallowed passageways, remember that it is strictly forbidden to take photos/videos of these sacred places. Resolve to keep smartphones turned off and cameras stowed, remembering that the earnest folks in whose stewardship these chambers are, take the spiritual meaning of it all very seriously. And actually the onsite bookstore does have remarkably worthwhile mementos.

Extracted—and improved—from a purchased bookstore DVD with German (!) voice-overs, this image shows a room deep underground where those faithful to Jesus assembled during the first three centuries of our era—where they buried their dead (consistent with their concept of the Resurrection), and declared with certainty that even mighty Rome did not have the final authority: not on earth, certainly never in Heaven.

 

For this upcoming visit, we'll ride in a tour van.

My 2022 e-bike tour visited this  very meadow, pausing to behold the inventive industry of these Latin-speaking Romans. Of course one naturally thinks of grand, ancient places that abound hereabouts... but I found myself imagining everyday life there, amid togas and chariots and difficult conjugations and declensions—oh, not neglecting that supine casemirabile dictu.

Down here are visible intense artworks, evidences of Centuries of humble prayer and veneration of heroes of the Faith.

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Several blocks down the street from our apartment is this massive emblem of ancient Rome, the Colosseum. Grand in the twilight, ominous in the darkness, it's a bucket list kind of place, not actually high among our own priorities. Beyond the pictured colossus is the Foro Romano—arguably more fascinating in suggesting glimpses of everyday life within this great city of two millennia ago: much more worthy of my attention than tour guides describing the gratuitous shedding of blood before the

screaming thousands wearing their best tunics in that vile arena of public entertainment.  So rather than spending hours in line to enter the Pantheon, say, or to pitch Euro coins into Trevi Fountain, I'd like to visit some of the less heralded archaeology hereabouts.

 

For my own part, the Basilica St Clemente holds much more magnetism—a few Euros' fee permits me to explore several layers of its archaeological tel—back to the remains of a first century Christian church.

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...knowing I'm on the street where we  live

Trudging those blocks now to nearby Stazione Roma Termini, it's a five-hour rumble northward to the Italian Lake District - Dolomites. Specifically on the shore of

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