10 June 2020 - Day 60 – Rome 3



Waking up at 8:30, I was down to breakfast at 9. Typical European breakfast offerings, but with an Italian flair. Table set for 2, so it was easy to find a place. I had muesli with yogurt and a banana, coffee, a hard-boiled egg. While at breakfast, my phone chirped with a reminder to email my morning baggage holding place for tomorrow. It got done quickly, so I didn’t forget. My meal was done and I was out on the street by 9:30.

It had rained overnight, and showers were predicted during the day, including the possibility of a thunderstorm. Back to the Castro Pretorio Metro stop, I rode south 12 stops to Laurentina, where I had a mile walk, arriving at a quarter past 10. Chiesa di Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio alle Tre Fontane is a former abbey, it can be confused with a church of the same dedication near the Trevi Fountain. While the wiki at fandom.com relates an extensive history of this site, it never mentions cathedral or bishop; however, Gcatholic.org still lists it as a former cathedral (and Annexed church) without dates. It has been a pilgrimage site, with references to St Paul, St Anastasius (the Persian) and St Vincent (the Deacon).


Still an active monastery, the adjacent octagonal chapel, Scala Coeli, commemorates a vision of the souls of St Zeno and his workers ascending a ladder to heaven with St Paul, who may have been martyred or buried nearby. The church itself is very plain, as traditional Cistercian (Trappist) currently and Benedictine abbeys are. I found nothing hanging on walls which might confirm Gcatholic’s inclusion. A second additional church, San Paolo alle Tre Fontane is the titular church of the Abbey of the Three Fountains. However, Papal appointments of a commendatory abbot began in 1419, and from one hundred years later, that position has always been a cardinal.

Ready to leave, I began walking back to the Metro stop. I rode the same train north 5 stops to the Basilica San Paolo stop; the basilica happened to be where I was heading. The thundershower which had just started as I was entering the Metro station was ending as I exited and walked 5 minutes to the basilica. Basilica Papale San Paolo fuori le Mura is a fourth century papal basilica, one of the four major basilicas. The relics of St Paul are entombed here. While the initial basilica was built by Constantine, it was rebuilt large and facing towards the Tiber soon thereafter. A serious fire in 1823 completely destroyed the building, and it was subsequently completely rebuilt as it had been. It was during the rebuilt that the sarcophagus containing the remains (less the head, which it at the Lateran basilica) was discovered.


To enter, I had to advance to the west to come around the outside walls of the colonnade that extends west out from the north and south corners, creating a protected formal garden. The colonnade at the west end, still double columned, is open towards the river. This is one impressive entrance.


Inside, the 4 sets of twenty columns that delineate the double side aisles from the nave seem to go on forever. Above these columns is the clerestory, where the windows are translucent alabaster sheets. The gilded coffered vault ranges high overhead. Approaching the baldachin, set in a sunken area of the main floor, are apparently two large kneelers, viewing the sarcophagus, which sits a meter below the altar under the baldachin. The stairs to descend are roped off. The walls of the building are all multi-colored marble and stone, and there are doorways to chapels that extend off the nave aisles. The main (rather than high) altar is in the apse, under a splendid half dome.

Needing to get to the second ex-cathedral, I had to leave St Paul’s Outside the Walls. A #23 bus took 25 minutes to wend me further north, to Piazza Monte Savello, where I had a 200m walk. Crossing the Tiber on Ponte Fabricio, the oldest extant bridge in Rome, circa 62 BCE, I came to the Piazza San Bartolomeo. The Basilica di San Bartolomeo all’Isola, the Basilica of St Bartholomew on the Island, is a late tenth century basilica, rebuilt after the 1557 flood with a baroque façade (added in 1639.) Established as a titulus in 1517, there is a Papally assigned Cardinal priest to the basilica. (Currently Cardinal Cupich of Chicago.) Historically, the basilica was the seat of the bishop of the diocese of Santa Rufina from ~1001 until 1124, and may also have been the seat of the bishop of Porto, the port of #Rome during the same period. (Per fandom.com’s wiki)


The façade (maybe because I’m getting jaded about Baroque façades) is functional, without much adornment. Inside, the columns of the nave are mismatched, recovered from other sites. Three chapels on each side, accessed from the side aisles. The presbytery is not deep, being included in the transept crossing. The main altar is a slab set on top of bathtub of imperial porphyry, which contain the relics of St Bartholomew. It is six steps up from the nave floor to the altar, which sits over a crypt. The church closed at 13:30, so I left as the attendees began ushering us out.

Leaving the basilica, I continued across Ponte Cestio to complete crossing the Tiber into Trastevere. All that was left on my agenda for Rome was Vatican City, as I didn’t have a picture of St Peter’s that I like, so needed to get one better. I was maybe 3 kilometers south, a half hour walk, but I could spend some time here in the soul of #Roma as I gradually worked my way to #VaticanCity.


As I passed Il Ponentino Ristoranti a Trastevere, I recalled instructions I’d heard from my friend Graham: go in, ask for their three best pasta dishes. Much as I’d like to try Carciofi again, it was for tonight. Moderate portions, the first was a flat curly pasta with bits of veggies in light broth and oil; then fresh raviolis in a thick broth with mozzarella di bufala, garnished with flash fried sage; and finally, a rigatoni with bits of egg and chicken in a light sauce. I was drinking their house white, which was superb. Good advice from the Aussie.

After lunch, while keeping an eye on the sky, I just wandered. With a smile for the mothers with their kids, the grandmothers with their sacks of food, the men with their caps and cigarettes. A “buon giorno” for the store owner sweeping his sidewalk during the midday lull. It hardly felt like I was in a city, it felt so much like a neighborhood. While vaguely aware of the river off to my right, the only times I felt the 21st century were crossing big boulevards and dodging scooters and taxis ignoring stop lights.

Passing Santa Maria in Trastevere, I took a picture across the piazza and just kept going on my way. A bit further on I walked through the Porta Settimiana, a narrow pass in a wall, and suspected I would soon return to the hustle-bustle. I was being directed closer and closer to the river as hills arose to my left. Ahead, I could see the Tiber bending to the right, and knew I was approaching the Vatican.

Wanting a long shot through the opening of the plaza, I continued to Via della Conciliazione and turned to walk to St Peter’s Square (albeit that it’s an oval.)

Strolling, I approached the outer oval and passed through the entry, making it a baker’s dozen countries for this trip. No tickets are required for the basilica itself, so I headed that way. A couple of no-nonsense Swiss Guards stopped me to check my rucksack and pat down my parka.

Gaining the interior, I slowly began walking around. The great baldachin that I’d recently seen a copy of. The Pietà (still behind bulletproof glass.) Venerated entombed popes. Clergy would bustle by, tightly focused, avoiding any contact.

I was too late to climb the 551 steps to the dome, and they were sold out for using the lift. Similarly with descending into the crypt.


With the weather clearing up, I was ready to stroll some more. Out through the gate and back to Italy and Roma, I crossed the Tiber on the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II and took a picture of the Castel Sant’Angelo. While I was viewing it, I mentally was alternating between the great first act Te Deum and the second act Vissi d’arte from Puccini’s Tosca, visualizing the Met’s Zefferelli production.


I headed over to the Piazza Novona, with the wonderful Fontana del Nettuno. I passed by the Forum,

which I should have visited yesterday when it was included on my Coliseum ticket. Seeing the Basilica di San Peitro I Vincoli, I ducked int quickly before evening Mass to get a photo of the Michelangelo Moses.

Around the back of Maria Maggiore, I continued as I walked past the front of the station and down the street to the hotel.

Up in the room, I kicked off shoes while I put my feet up and worked on getting my journal updated. Two more pages added to what I wrote during lunch. Dinner time was approaching, and I wasn’t really hungry, nor did I know where or what I wanted. Sunset was about half an hour off, so I decided to head back to #Trastevere. The bus from Termini got me there in 15 minutes, so I headed sort of southwest from Sonnino/S. Gallicano along the Viale. Aiming towards where there was a bend in the river, I found Roma Sparita off on a side street. With big umbrellas over tables out on the sidewalk, it looked homey and comfortable. All I knew is that I had to have Carciofo alla giudia or deep fried artichoke again.


Ordering, only because it sounded so strange, Supplì al telefono (which translates to torture on the phone.) What it is: mozzarella tomato basil risotto balls, deep fried, which I had as my starter. Then the carciofo. It is twice fried so the outside is shatteringly crisp and the interior deliciously tender. My waiter said I had to have a pasta after the artichoke, and I asked for a suggestion. He offered small portions with or without tomato sauce, and I went with the spaghetti with oil and anchovy. Abbacchio a scottadito is young baby lamb. I have always liked lamb, so here was a chance to try it Italian (or Roman?) style. And a side of veggies.


So, getting a half carafe of house white, the croquet shows up. Definitely better than some of the rice balls I’ve had elsewhere, probably because there was lots of cheese, and I like the tomato presence. The artichoke was awesome. Just a sprinkle of sea salt can cause convulsions of ecstasy and moans of pleasure. At least as good an experience as two nights ago before the concert. The pasta was pleasant – great sauce, good cheese, the right size portion, it came in a thin deep-fried pastry shell dish, and the anchovy was lightly evident. Just I really didn’t need pasta. Then, with a glass of house red, the lamb arrived. Reminiscent of the lamb dish in Segovia, where the lamb was so tender it fell off the bone and melted in the mouth. Seasoned nicely, including garlic, rosemary, thyme and sage. The veggies were interesting: a tad gray, it was a mix of white beans, peas, artichoke and garbanzo, with parsley and oil. I finished about half.

Dessert, while I really didn’t need more food, I went with flan, as it would be my first Italian flan, and they’re light and easily digestible. Decaf coffee, but not in a demitasse; I put milk in, and a bit of sugar. Both were good, hit the spot. And I’d had a couple of conversations, one where I had to use almost all of my Italian. I was recognized as not being local, and then writing and taking photos, it triggered questions and I had some social interaction which was fun. There were questions as to where my hotel was, and how I would get back. Once I go to the corner, I had good streets to get me to the bus stop. They agreed once I said I’d be on the bus, and we all wished one another a good evening.

The bus back came after a 12-minute wait, and I was exiting the bus at the train station 20 minutes later. An easy stroll to the hotel, I said good night to the front desk and climbed the stairs to my room. My journal was done for today, so I started writing this post. About 475 photos on the camera, and 75 more on the phone. Two batteries to charge, plus the phone. Checking email, I go a confirm from the hotel in Avezzano for tomorrow, and my train will be leaving just after 9. I’m going to be crossing to the Adriatic tomorrow, stopping for a midday break about midway. It’s about 4 hours across by train. So I’m hoping for good sleep, once this gets posted.

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