aside Gronda And Friend’s May 2016 Roman Adventure, Part v

Basilica-Santa-Maria-Maggiore
Basilica-Santa-Maria-Maggiore

One day, my friend suggested that we walk to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore with its own Piazza off of the major street, Via Cavour and so we ambled along on a beautiful day, getting a little lost along the way. The easiest way to find this Basilica would be to take the metro to the Via Cavour station and then to walk a few meters north to reach this destination. This church was worth taking the time to find. Those in the know claim that this church has the best collection of mosaics in Rome.

The blog, Sacred Destinations provides the following description:

“Founded in the 4th century, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of Saint Mary Major) is one of the five great ancient basilicas of Rome. Its 18th-century exterior conceals one of the best-preserved Byzantine interiors in the city.”

“Santa Maria Maggiore still retains its ancient layout, but most of the exterior dates from the 18th century. The only visible exterior part of the Early Christian basilica is a short length of the clerestory wall, seen from Via dell’ Esquilino.”

Interior Santa Maria Maggiore
Interior Santa Maria Maggiore

“Santa Maria Maggiore still retains its ancient layout, but most of the exterior dates from the 18th century. The only visible exterior part of the Early Christian basilica is a short length of the clerestory wall, seen from Via dell’ Esquilino.”

“The 5th-century mosaics on either side of the nave depict scenes from the Old Testament. This was the first large-scale cycle of Biblical scenes in Rome. The left-hand side has scenes of Abraham, Jacob and Isaac; the right-hand side has scenes of Moses and Joshua.”

I read from Pauline Frommer’s book on Italy that Rome’s baroque master Gian Lorenzo Bernini is buried here, marked by a plaque on the right side of the alter. She writes that on August 5, a celebration is held to mark the miracle of a summer snowfall, which led to the building of this church. During this festive time, there is a release of thousands of flower petals from the ceiling.

Trastevere Sunday Flea Market
Trastevere Sunday Flea Market

Every Sunday, there is a flea market held in the Trastevere area which spans out for miles. It is estimated that there are at least 900 stalls with vendors selling just about anything and everything. There are great values here but you will need to use your bargaining skills. Of course, I and my friend took a cab to reach the Porta Portese gate where the market begins. We perused the booths for miles trying to limit our purchases of the myriad choices of leather goods, purses, jackets, clothes, shoes, jewelry, antiques and whatever but we were not successful.

On our foodie tour on one early evening, we spent most of our time wandering through the maze of alleyways of the Trastevere area as we passed by shops, a myriad of bars and places to eat. This community was buzzing with activity and peoples enjoying the electric atmosphere. We strolled through the Piazza Santa Maria which seemed to be the heart and soul of this area. The 17th century fountain in the center was obviously a favorite place for the locals and tourists to hang out and people watch.

Trastevere
Trastevere’s Piazza di Santa Maria / Photo by Tim White of Getty

During the foodie tour, all those participating met at a fountain located in the Piazza Farnese which is part of the Campo di Fiori and the Jewish Ghetto. Our host Alfredo pointed out to us, some memorial brass plaques with the names of Jewish victims in front of the residences where they used to live before they were forcefully taken to death camps.

I read more about this subject from the 1/18/15 http://www.wantedinrome.com news report. The following are some excerpts:

“The memorial stones are commissioned by family members or often residents of the building from where victims were deported, a powerful reminder of a tragedy in the exact place it occurred, by people who were affected directly.”

“The installation is part of a larger effort in the capital to represent Italy’s sympathy and recover from its role in the earlier stages of world war two, on the 70th anniversary of Rome’s liberation.”

“Author and docent Roy Doliner believes the brass cobblestones have a different effect to the numerous wall plaques around the city because you stumble over them (often literally) and by doing so, open your eyes.”

Gunter Demnig in Rome

“Author and docent Roy Doliner believes the brass cobblestones have an effect to the numerous wall plaques around the city because you stumble over them (often literally) and by doing so, open your eyes.”

“A particularly agonising plaque to read is on the wall of a children’s day school near Via Portico d’Ottavia in the Jewish ghetto that states, “In perpetual memory of 112 students from this school killed in the Nazi extermination camps.”

Vatican Gardens
Vatican Gardens

One afternoon, I and my friend stopped by the Vatican in an attempt to view their  gardens but we were too late. One representative advised us to book a Vatican tour which includes access to the gardens.

I found out from vatican.usembassy.gov website that it is possible to book tours to see the gardens directly with official Vatican tour guides. The following are the instructions:

“Vatican Garden guided tours may be booked on the Vatican Museums website. Tickets are 31 euro (reduced fare – 25 euro) and include a guided tour of the Gardens by an official Vatican tour guide, rental of audio guides, and admission to the Vatican Museums after the tour.”

gardens 25_vatican_gardens_3“Tours for individuals or small groups under 15 people may be accomodated upon request.  The cost of the guided tour is 250 euro for the guide and an additional 19 euro per person (reduced fare – 12 euro) for entry.”

“The tour is approximately 2 hours, and is generallly available everyday except Wednesdays and Sundays.  Tours begin at 9:15 a.m. and the last entrance is 11:30 a.m.”

“You must have either a passport or an identification card to enter; a driver’s license is not accepted as proper identification.”

“For more information on guided tours, please contact the Office for Public Relations: tel.  +(39).06.6988.3145; fax. +(39).06.6987.3250”

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