Monday, June 27, 2016

Traveling in Beautiful Rome, Italy. Part 3

Welcome to Traveling in Beautiful Rome, Italy part three. Like the title states this will be the third, and final part of my Taveling in Beautiful Rome, Italy series. You can go back to Part 1 and Part 2 buy clicking. Last time I left you with a bridge ad this time I will start with a bridge, just not to one I left you with. Be patient. 

Street Performer in Rome Italy

In my posts about Florence, which you can read here, I said that Italy was a wonderful place for street photography. It is. When is the last time you saw a sombrero-clad Asian accordion-playing busker? I didn't think so. I honestly don't remember the name of this bridge Ponte Something or Other. There are myriad bridges and they all appear to be important in one way or another. 

While I was walking across this particular bridge a man in a top had made of playing cards riding an electric bicycle passed me. Once again, not something you see every day. I photographed him as he passed me, but later discovered the purpose for his getup. 

Street Performer magician in Rome Italy

He was a street magician. I didn't catch his show, but the captive audience didn't really seem very impressed by it, so I'm going to assume it was a but dull. I give him an A for effort though. 

As I strolled casually around Florence and later Rome I started to discover that Italians don't dry their clothes inside. Nowhere would this be more evident than Venice, which I believe is famous for people airing their laundry in public. It must have something to do with the size of apartments or maybe it's just cultural. 

Street scene in Rome, Italy

But what happens if you want to hand your clothes outside your window, like all your neighbors, but you just aren't handy enough to string up a line? You get something like what you see above. No offense to Romans, but this is white-trash or redneck ingenuity at its best, hands down. I also highly doubt the creator of this impressive display ever thought that some idiot would photograph it and later write about it. If you're still unclear, the device hanging out the window on the right is designed to be used indoors. Right, back to bridges and stuff.

Castel Sant'Angelo and Ponte Sant'Angleo in Rome, Italy

The bridge here is Ponte Sant'Angelo which happens to lead to Castel Sant'Angelo. To my knowledge Castel Sant'Angelo is the only castle in Rome, surely The Holy See doesn't count as it is a church and a country without any castle that I'm aware of. The Vatican does have its own train station though, so they have that going for them. But I digress.

Castel Sant'Angelo was once the Papal fortress. If shit really hit the fan the Pope would hole up here. It was originally constructed by Emperor Hadrian to be a mausoleum for him and his family around 135 AD. It has undergone one or two "upgrades" since then and is now a museum mainly about military history. Regular readers here, is there such a thing, will realize that I couldn't not visit this place.  

What you see above is the passage that leads from the castle to the Vatican. Dan Brown put it in some of his books and those books were turned into movies, so if you want to see the inside of it you'll need to enlist the help of Tom Hanks. I have no clue where this passage comes out at the Vatican or if it even actually makes it all the way there anymore, but I believe it does. The need for a Papal fortress is slightly antiquated these days. The delightful Swiss Guards seem to have everything under control.

Angel with the Column by Antonio Raggi on Ponte Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

Ponte Sant'Angleo is festooned with statues of angels. The fort itself features a statue of the Archangel Michael by Bernini sheathing his sword after smiting a plague about the land. The one above is the Angel with the Column by Antonio Raggi and it was my favorite one. At least on the outside of the castle.

Statue of Archangel Michael by Michelangelo in Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

This was my favorite statue at the castle. It is the original statue of Archangel Michael that topped the castle and it is a Michelangelo, just, you know, in a courtyard because. Honestly, I won't complain about the placement of this gorgeous masterpiece. When is the last time you went someplace and there was a statue by Michelangelo that you could touch and no one would care? Had I touched any of the Rodins at the National Museum in Washington D.C. I'd probably still be in jail. To me, it appeared that may of the people wandering about the courtyard where this statue was didn't have a clue about it.

Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

Climbing off my artistic high horse and back to the castle, you can see that is has some big walls and it even has a moat in places. The photo above is a bit "streety" as there appears to be a father and son napping on the park bench on the right. You would have to enlarge the photo a lot for it to work, but I still like it.

Inside Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

Inside the castle there are a number of really cool chambers and passageways. Some of them I meant to photograph, but the magical 13:00 hour arrived the the place was suddenly crawling with tourists. Like packed to the rafters crawling with tourists. Like many places in Rome, or Italy for that matter, you can virtually have the place to yourself up until 13:00 then all of a sudden it's like Scotty beamed a bunch of wandering morons with their families directly on top of you.

Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

The route around the castle takes you in a sort of spiral and you get to check out the different upper and inner levels as you go through it. It seriously doesn't look as large as it is from the outside. Add that causeway to the Vatican and it's simply huge. I assume that passage would be the first thing destroyed during an assault. 

Catapult inside Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

There are displays of ancient siege weapons and hand hewn cannon balls. In some places there are signs warning you that the uneven floor you are treading on was built by Hadrian so be careful. It turns out marble floors don't stand up to two thousand years of punishment so well. Who would have known? 

Old cannons inside Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

Each of the bastions at the castle is a little different and they all have names. Some have larger, more "modern" artillery emplacements and others are clearly designed for simpler and less powerful weapons. This is a testament to the nature of construction that is fairly constant over the course of hundreds of years as weapons evolve and you need to create new structures to support them.

Guard chamber inside Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

See, more awesome old weapons. This is a guard room that stands at the base of a drawbridge inside the castle that leads to the upper chambers. Think about that for a minute, a drawbridge inside a castle. These folks really did think of everything, except maybe how to escape. You weren't going to get choppered out like at Saigon, since choppers didn't exist and all. Maybe the plan was to hold out for reinforcements to come save you? Personally, I think if your attackers have arrived this deeply into your capital, you're screwed. 

Roman cityscape view from Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

The views from the castle are breathtaking. There is even a cafe near the top where you can sit and enjoy a snack and cappuccino. If you're in Italy and not drinking cappuccino you are a heretic. You should also be wearing Ray Ban sunglasses. They force you to purchase them at the Italian border. It's just like grills in Texas, you aren't allowed admittance without one. I'm lucky I already had a pair.

View of St. Peter's Basilica from Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

Here we have another one of the amazing views from the castle, this one of St. Peter's Basilica. It also shows you how close the Castle Sant'Angelo and Basilica are to one another. It's less than a mile for sure. This wonderful view brings this post to a close, and sets you up from my next post which will be all about The Vatican. See how I've tied it all together? I'm a little impressed with myself, but that will wear off soon. 

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Traveling in Beautiful Rome, Italy. Part 2

Hello again and thanks for coming back (I hope you're a repeat reader) to read part two of me traveling in beautiful Rome, Italy. If you missed the first part, Traveling in Beautiful Rome, Italy Part 1,  you can read it by clicking this link.

Last time I had covered the Colosseum and was moving on to the Roman Forum. I even gave a little teaser photo at the end. So let's get right into it. 

I was astounded by the sheer enormity of everything in the Roman Forum. The place itself is much larger than you think and the buildings just dwarf you. There honestly isn't a good way to depict the scale in photos. You really must stand there and feel it. That said: *I'm still working to find a new layout, right now the image you see at the top of this post is supposed to appear under here. 

Photo of the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

There, I tried to show you the size. This isn't all of it. It's maybe half. I took this photo from Palatine Hill. Palatine Hill is a giant park, some of which overlooks the Forum. For one low price you can get a ticket that grants you admission to the Forum, Palatine Hill and the Colosseum and is good for 48 hours. Seriously, doing all three of these places in one day is possible, because they are all right next to each other but either make that your entire day or break it up into two days. I did the hill and the Forum in the same day and was totally rushed though Palatine Hill worried that the Forum would close before I got to see it. The first time I saw the Forum it was closed, but I tried to walk up the hill behind it anyway. 

Photo of Church of San Sebastiano al Palatino on Palatine Hill in Rome, Italy

It was the same night I took the photo of the Colosseum you can see in part one. As you can see, I maybe should have waited at the Colosseum for the sky to look like this. I got restless what can I say. Above is the gate to the Church of San Sebastiano al Palatino. I don't know much else about it, but it did make for a pretty photograph and according to Wikipedia it qualifies as being on Palatine Hill. 

Photo of Palatine Hill from the Forum in Rome, Italy

A few days later I finally made it into the Forum. Above you can see the view of a tiny tiny part of Palatine Hill from the Forum. The hill is huge with orchards and churches and ruins of aqueducts and all sorts of goodies even amazing views. It is one of the Seven Hills of Rome and where Romulus founded the original city of Rome.

Ruins atop Palatine Hill in Rome, Italy

If you search around on the Internet for like 5 seconds this photo will come up. Well, probably not this exact photo because I took it and don't have much luck getting into the top search results, but anyway a photo of this place on the hill. 

View of San Gregorio al Celio from Palatine Hill in Rome, Italy

Up next here we have an example of one of the amazing view from the hill. I really wish I could remember the name of this church and might do a Google Image search later to find the name. It was framed so well in the trees and made for a gorgeous view. I think it's the San Gregorio al Celio. Pretty much all the views from the hill were breathtaking, except for the Circus Maximus. I don't know why, but I just really didn't like the Circus Maximus at all, like not even a little bit. It just felt bad to be there. 

Building atop Palatine Hill in Rome, Italy

At the top of Palatine Hill there are a few buildings. I really enjoyed the shadow of the lamp on this one and that is why you are looking at a photo of it now. Otherwise, there isn't much else to say about this photo. As I said, I started to rush through the hill because I was afraid that I would not be able to see all of the Forum. 

Arch of Titus at the Forum in Rome, Italy

Easily the first big thing you see when entering this place is the Arch of Titus. You can't miss it and it is impressive. It's supposed to be. When you kick a lot of ass and your brother is the Emperor of Rome he builds you an arch to remember you victories after you die. There are a lot of arches in what I would call a relatively small area in Rome. 

Arch of Septimus Severus at the Forum in Rome, Italy

The Arch of Septimus Severus is just a little ways away from the Arch of Titus, which is just a little ways from the Arch of Constantine. The cool thing about the Severus arch is that one brother had the other brother's records scratched out after assassinating his brother, brutal. I suppose when your history is carved in marble the only solution to rewrite it is to scratch it out. You look at things like this and then reflect on Shakespeare's plays and think, "wow, he was pretty tame in his portrayals." Or at least I do. 

Ruins at the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

Hey look!! A cool column head, or base, photo. This is for sure much better than the one I took at the Colosseum and didn't include in my last post, the snail photo I did include is actually pretty cool. You can see a fair bit of the stuff aroud the Forum. The intersting thing is that this place was a big swamp for a few hundred years and was essentially "rediscovered." People always knew it was there, it just seems like interest was low. As an example, only the top portion of the Severus Arch was visible when the place was "rediscovered."

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina and Temple of Vesta at the Roman Forum in Rome,Italy

In this photo you can easily see the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina on the left. I completely fell in awestruck love with this temple. It is by far my favorite structure at the Forum. I don't know why, nor do I care. It so much larger than this photo can even begin to show. It seemed like each step up to the place was six feet tall. It is a building truly larger than life, right there before your eyes making you feel like an insignificant dwarf of a being. On the right is the Temple of Vesta. It is cool too, but in the "also ran" category for me compared to the Temple of Antoninus. 

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina and House of the Vestal Virgins at the Roman Forum in Rome,Italy

Behind the Temple of Vesta is the House of the Vestal Virgins. It was once an impressive building, built by Septimus Severus of surviving-son-assassinating-and-scratching-out-his-brother's-legacy fame. There are many statues in a row in this place. I think only one still has her head and you see her above. So, while these Vestal Virgins may have kept their flowers, all but one lost her head. They didn't all die virgins, after their term of service was over they were allowed to marry and it was a big deal to marry one. 

Photo of the Roman Forum at night

The thing about the Roman Forum is that it is drastically less crowded at night -- because it's closed and all. If you do some internet searching you will see a lot of photos from this perspective. It's not a surprise, it's a good angle and view if you look really close in the background you can see the Colosseum and get a descent idea of scale. When I was visiting the Forum I saw people standing in this spot outside and was desparate to find it. I did -- duh. I even had to walk past the Arch of Janus to get here. The Arch of Janus is by far my favorite and I don't have a single photo I like of it, since it's basically in a parking lot. 

Photo of the Pantheon in Rome, Italy at night

Moving on from the Roman Forum I've kicked in a photo of the Pantheon. It is also quite impressive and the inside is more moving that the outside. This is a lot like the Trevi Fountain in the the sqaure in front was so insanely crowded that I had to return at night to get a photo with less that 10,000 people in it. The funny thing about the inside is that people can't quite grasp that it is a church so they make a ton of noise, like they are at a baseball game or something. As a result every once in a while a loud tone sounds and there is a voice shushes everyone and reminds the disrespectful heathens  that they are in a church. Raphael is buried at the Pantheon and that is very cool. 

Photo of the Villa del Priorato di Maltain Rome, Italy

Now we're moving on to a few more random images while I get ready to tease the last installement of Traveling in Beautiful Rome, Italy Part 2. What you see above appears confusingly random and I think it pretty much is. It is the Villa del Priorato di Malta and this line of people is waiting for a chance to peek though the freaking mail slot in the front gate. It's so popular that there is a food cart there. Honestly, I can only attribute this behaviour to the fact that there is a guide book entry describing how the garden of the Priorato is beautiful. Come on people. If there is any consolation whatsoever it is that the Priorato is on Aventine Hill

Rowers rowing under Ponte Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

While Rome is famous of its seven hills, and agreeable quite a lot more things, it also has its fair share of bridges which span the disgustingly green waters of the River Tiber, it really does look nasty. The teaser photo above shows a very important bridge that I will talk about it part three. The thing you will never get from this photo is that the guy in the single skull was being serenaded by the coxwain in the eight oar shell to 'O sole mio. Classic Italy. Until next time... .

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