Thursday, June 16, 2011

The pope, the king, the president...

Today, we visited Basilica di San Clemente and Palazzo del Quirinale. Our professor decided to take us to San Clemente because it is considered one of Rome's "hidden treasures." The building is three tiers. On the street level, there is a basilica, below the basilica, there is another church and below that church there are ancient Roman houses. The church and the Roman houses are underground. Very cool. The tier of the Roman homes had a natural running spring. The buildings were all built on top of each other and one building supports the next. For example, the columns of the basilica of the first tier are supported by other columns below, and so on. Within the second tier there was also a worship area for Mithraeum. According to our professor, this was a cult like religion of the 2nd century and the worshiping was done in the pitch dark. Again, the reason I love Rome is because there is so much more history in this city than there is in the U.S.. The buildings were made out of such strong materials, such as stone and marble, that it was either impossible to demolish the structure or the structure was so sturdy it could support a whole additional structure on top of it! I was walking in a Roman's house today. NUTS! Afterward, our professor took us to get gelato on him. Score! I had amore e odio. Delish! That translates to "love and hate" (nutella with white chocolate. yum!)

The visit to Palazzo del Quirinale was also very cool. The judge we met at the Italian Constitutional Court got us a private tour. This was also awesome! Originally, this is where the pope sat during the Summer because it is located on one of the seven hills in Italy. Then the king took over this palace and the pope moved to the Vatican. Now, this is where the President of the Italian Republic lives. The art in this palace is very bizarre in a way because there are three different tones going on--pope, king and president. There was a chapel and several other rooms in the palace. Also, another neat tidbit was there were several so called, "hiding spots" for the pope. Where the pope could sit in the house and pray and not be seen. Everywhere you turned there was a secret room it seemed like. There was also a beautiful garden.

We returned to Trattoria Picchiapo for dinner. They have Gnocchi on Thursdays. Francesco is the best. (If you have been following my blog we ate there once before). Tomorrow we are headed to Sorrento with plans to visit Pompeii and Positano. Look for my blog about the weekend on Monday! Buonanotte!

[Pictures (left to right, top to bottom): Mithraeum worship area, ceiling of the Pope's mini "hidden" chapel (which also had a hidden room within it) in Palazzo di Quirinale, one of the rooms in Palazzo di Quirinale (obvi with chandeliers), "big" chapel (meant to resemble Sistine Chapel, without the artwork of Michelangelo, for the pope while here in the Summer), natural spring in the lower tier of San Clemente. The quality of my pics weren't so hot today because there are strict rules about photography in both of these places. They definitely don't do the actual locations justice!]

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