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8 June 2020 - Day 58 – Terni and Rome

After pushing the post up last night, I headed back to the bar I’d seen up the street. Sto Bene is a bit upscale, but they were serving snacks and drinks, and I was there. So with the snack platter and a glass of local red, I sat at the bar and chatted (primarily in English) with the bartender.

It was a healthy pour, so I quit at one, and collected some cornetti for the morning. One thing I learned: the first edition of Dante’s poem La divina commedia was printed (1472) in Foligno’s Orfini Palace. And there is a coffee maker that seems to work like a Keurig, so I was hopeful.

This morning plan: I headed from #Foligno to Rome, the Eternal City, but planned on stopping in Terni on the way. Only issue was that there was a train at 7:47, and the next was at 9:20. And I wanted to leave for Rome at 12:55. The plan was to see both the cathedral in Terni and also the basilica: all told, about 6km. With the later train, I’d have 3 hours; the earlier would be almost 4½ hours. My quandary was up at 7, or at 8:30. I opted to sleep.

But I was up just after 8 anyway, so I figured out the coffee maker and had my coffee with fake milk, but the cornetti were delicious once I popped them into the oven to warm. Packing wasn’t an issue, as I’m three days in Rome, so I cleaned up, zipped it shut, and pulled on the slicker, as it was particularly gray outside. Off down the road to the Foligno train station, found my train and 40 minutes later I was in Terni.

When planning, I knew I needed to find a place to leave the bag. Two hotels were close by, but both wanted me to rent a room to leave the bag for 3 hours. The train station didn’t hold luggage, but the nearby Busitalia depot did, so I headed here. Easy-peasy. Then off to points south.

A kilometer and a half later, I stood in front of Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta. With a long history, cathedrals on this site have been built, torn-down, built-over, and completely renovated, leaving little if anything which might be called original. Still, the 16th-17th century “modernization” has resulted in a smooth flow from the piazza through to the front façade, in a baroque style.

The western façade has a double portico on the plaza level, which is used for parking, as the diocesan offices and the diocesan museum extend out from the sides to box the plaza in. Statues of eight Terni bishops are placed above the porch. The 17th century bell tower is to the right of the nave. Three doors allow entry, the central being an interesting work of art.

Entering into the nave, Romanesque columns support the simple vault, defining aisles with chapels. Of note are the baptismal and Eucharist chapels. A simple dome is over the crossing. A crypt contains the remains of the original Roman temple and the first three cathedrals. A controversy ensues regarding a modern painting commissioned by the current bishop for the rear wall of the nave: “Christ Ascendant” is somewhat unconventional, as Christ is beardless, and the souls ascending with Him to heaven are naked. Critics have expressed the opinion that it is homoerotic.

Out and continuing to the south another 1.7km, I reached the Basilica di San Valentino. A 6th century building, there are two levels with a central door up steps off the plaza and a window above it. Stucco statues were place in niches between the half columns of the façade. Inside, there is a single aisle nave.

The main altar in the presbytery displays what are supposed to be the remains of Bishop #StValentine. However between the 8th and 17th centuries much turmoil occurred in #Terni with invading hordes, looting and sacking, raids and destruction. With the building of the new basilica, efforts driven by Pope Paul V to recover lost relics to promote additional worship resulted in recovery of the martyr’s remains. There are several other European churches which claim to have the remains of the patron saint of lovers.

It was practically noon, and the 3km walk back took 40 minutes. Once I collected my bag, I headed to the station on the south side, but had to use the subway tunnel to get to the far side. As I reached the platform, the train pulled in, and I found a second-class car to board. The luggage racks were full, and seats were scarce, so for the hour and a quarter, I sat in the boarding area on a jump seat, holding my bag. I finally smartened up, lay it on the short side (off the wheels) and used it as a desk to update my journal.

Arriving in Roma Termini, it was a mad house. Passengers poured off the train, many racing along the platform with little regard for anyone else. I got my bag off and out-of-the-way, and waited until it was calmer, exiting with the train crew. My lodgings, the Hotel Cambridge, were out the front, to the right 4 blocks and then half a block down on the right.

Entering the lobby after 2:30, there was no problem with my reservation or room, and I was given a card key and sent off to the middle floor, what we Yanks call the third floor. I’ve had to move the furniture around a little to fit the roller on the floor, but it has all worked out. I just hope the housekeepers can cope.

Using the stairs to descend two levels (I’d used the lift to get the suitcase upstairs), I thanked the front desk and headed back to the station. I needed to pick up a three-day transit pass for €16,50. Then I rode the Rome subway north to the Lepanto stop, followed by taking a bus to the Don Minzoni stop and walking 5 minutes. Santa Maria della Pace: Chiesa Prelatizia dell'Opus Dei.

#OpusDei is a conservative organization within the Roman Catholic church, and their organization has considerable influence within the Vatican. They have episcopal status, hence their leader has bishop ranking, so I consider their headquarters, where Mass is offered, to be a church and a cathedral. I was surprised to find that it didn’t look like a church. In fact, it looked more like an apartment building.

After gaining entrance, and explaining my interest, I was escorted to several rooms of worship and a museum-like exhibition room. My visit was brief, polite.

Leaving, I had two more non-cathedral destinations for today. The first is the Church of St Paul Within the Walls, an Anglican church. Using my pass, I headed to the bus stop and got on a #910 heading south, and within a half hour, walked from the Repubblica stop 5 minutes to the church. Chiesa di San Paolo entro le Mura has horizontal stripes of red and white stone, a rose window over the central double doors and a bell tower.

A small garden behind an iron-rail fence is on the right corner. Through one of the wooden doors, the nave has two side aisles with gothic arches. The striping of the outside stone persists inside. To the side of the entry doors are sheets of agate, while above are four murals and then the rose window. Clerestory widows provide natural light below a wooden barrel vault. A geometric design in the terrazzo floor runs the length of the center aisle to the chancel. The quire is up three steps with a simple table altar, exposed pipes of the organ to the right. The apse is a half-circle dome of gold and glass mosaic, featuring turquoise trim and ultramarine angel wings, with a small altar and tabernacle at the rear center. Stained-glass double lights are in the side aisle walls.

Advancing on, I left St Paul’s and passed the garden, continuing to the next corner and turning left. Four blocks later, I’m at the Piazza dell’Esquilino with the Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore in front of me.

Founded in the 5th century, it is one of four basilicas which hold “major” status and is known for its Roman mosaics. (There are 1815 “minor” basilicas worldwide at year-end 2019, per Gcatholic.) This is a large church, so I decided to walk around it first, which took 10 minutes. Passing through the canvas tent that is security, I climbed the steps to enter the rightmost door.

This church is huge, with an overwhelming amount of art. I honestly believe that the only way to see the building and appreciae its contents would be through a guided tour by an expert. Which was not something I could do today. From the triumphal arch to the coffered gold ceiling, down to the relic of the Holy Crib and the tombs of popes and the Bernini family, the mosaics, hanging portraits, plaques, statues … no amount of prep can help fully appreciate this wonderful church.

Watch this short video from Catholic TV YouTube:

Approaching 5pm, I’d seen the three churches in #Rome that were on today’s list. The Basilica is fairly close to the train station, thus also the hotel. Rome is loaded with history, and particularly with historic churches. Coming down from the Esquiline Hill, I decided to catch a #71 bus and make a 15-minute ride and see San Lorenzo outside the Walls.

The Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura is one of the 7 pilgrim churches and, with the 5 major basilicas, is a former “patriarchal basilica” (Jerusalem), so it was important for me to visit.

The façade has been rebuilt after Allied bombing during WWII, is much simpler than Mary Major, still there is metal gating between the portico columns. While the exterior frescoes were destroyed, the terrazzo and interior remain. Sts Lawrence and Stephen, both young deacon martyrs, are buried here. This church is adjacent to the Verano Cemetery and is used for many funeral services.

To return to the hotel, I walked through the Sapienza Università di Roma, passing the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters. A good size campus of mostly modern buildings, the students were heading to or leaving late lectures. Once I left campus, it was two more blocks to the hotel. Still having some energy, I took the stairs, and once in the room, opened the window for air. Opening the suitcase in a corner of the room, I pulled out jackets and trousers to hang, and put the clean shirts, socks and skivvies into the wardrobe. I began preparing a bundle to mail back to Florida, as I’d been accumulating pamphlets, maps, brochures and souvenirs and I could use recovering the space. Hopefully I’d find a post office over the next two days. Sitting down, I wrote some more of the day in my journal, getting almost caught up before I figured it really was time to find dinner.

For a change, I really didn’t want to work at finding a place, so I asked the bellhop where I should go to get a true Roman pizza experience. Smiling, he sent me to La Tavernetta, a trattoria-pizzeria about 3 blocks away. A full menu (in Italian and English) as well as pizza, and a full bar service with beer and wine: that did the trick for me.

A plate of antipasti to start, with a half carafe of house red, so I could look over the menu. Spaghetti with seafood, which came out for the table across from me, looked too good to pass, so that made another easy decision. Figuring I’d probably not need too much more, I was able to order half a four-cheese pizza, with tomato and arugula. Seeing that I was a carnivore, they put a few slices of capicollo on it. The pasta was superb, with great mussels and squid. The pizza was just what else I needed, but I did have room for tiramisu and a decaf for dessert.

Heading back, I took an alternate route, away from the stores and restaurants. I was surprised to walk by a hotel with the family name, Galles, of friends back in California. Great people, they run a vineyard and Linda makes wonderful cab. Miss my wine buddies, but hope they’re enjoying my trip vicariously, especially Sudsy. Back in the room, it was the end-of-day routine, downloading photos, charging whatever needed it, and writing a blog posting report. A lot of walking in Terni, I’m taking it a bit easier here in Rome with the transit pass. I hope to sleep well tonight, as tomorrow will be another full day.

I just reread my notes for Terni: “Terni is known as the “city of lovers,” due to the fact that the tomb of St. Valentine, the local Patron Saint, rests in the Basilica di San Valentino. Terni's other must-sees include the Gothic Church of St. Francis and a few archaeological sites, particularly the Fausto Amphitheatre dating back to 32 B.C. (inside the La Passeggiata city park) and the remains of the ancient walls. Terni is made up of many a remarkable edifice: Palazzo Spada, today the town hall, Palazzo Fabrizi and Palazzo Carrara are but a few of them.” Next visit will have to be longer!! And oh, I did hear back from the diocesan office in Foligno, and Sant’Agostino has been elevated to pro-cathedral status.

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