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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