11.23.2014

Three Days In Rome: 2. ... ye see it lying

Foro and Palatinum

Under a stuffy sky, cloudy and gray, we crossed the river, walked again the Circo Massimo and up to the Palatinum, where Rome had its origins. But excavations show that people have lived here since approximately 1000 BC.
In the Republican period (c.509 BC – 44 BC) it was an expensive residencial area. The Italian world 'palazzo' (palace) takes its name from Palatinum. During the Empire (27 BC – 476 AD) several emperors resided there: Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), Tiberius (14 – 37) and Domitian (81 – 96) at least, whose palaces can still be seen. As an impressive, huge ruin.
Palatinum
It's a recent excavation, it only dates from 2006, but the legend about this place as Romolo's first town is as old as Rome itself.
The Palatinum is a hill and from here you can see the Foro Romano, as crowded now as it was in the ancient times. They are close and still very different. The Palatinum conserves a more intimate athmosphere, a larger breath. It isn't filled of monuments and what you see is the rest of private houses. Nature rules, with the red of the bricks, green is the the colour, and the dirty white of some lonely statue.
Palatinum
I loved the Patinum's loneliness, the silence, and the view toward the modern city. Like a legacy.
And I beloved the rest of the botanical garden, the Orti Farnesiani: sweet scent of roses and decay...
The Roman Forum was a public place, the monumental center of the ancient Rome. Around the square, crossed by the Via Sacra, were the most important buildings in the city: Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, Basilica Emilia, the Curia, the Temple of Vesta, Ara of Caesar, Arch of Titus and Septimius Severus... and they are still there, as Scheley said "heaped in undistinguished ruin". As I said: too much. Too big. Too open. And too many tourists taking ugly pictures by a smart phone. 
Palatinum
Slightly a part, dense of memories, the Vestales' portico, next to the Temple of Vesta. The line of white statues featuring the highly respected women used to consacrate their youth to the Goddess, attending her temple and keeping alive her holy fire. When 40 they were allowed to marry, and never  lacked of requests!
Exhausetd and hungry, we stop in a small osteria for a coda alla vaccinara and abbacchio al forno, some of the typical meats of Rome. Recovered, we go.
Silence of the Palatinum, crowd of the Foro, we bring it all walking toward Piazza Barberini, with Palazzo Barberini and Fontana del Tritone. Because Rome is also Renaissance, Manierism and Baroque, the field of battle of some of the best artists ever: Michelangelo, Raffaello, Bernini and Borromini. Amazement is their aim and they usually succeed.
Orti Farnesani
Amazement, but a different kind, it's the only word to describe the feeling in the Cripta dei Cappuccini, all decorated by... human bones! "What you are we were and what we are you'll be" is the motto. No doubt true. And we have matter to meditate on our way to Piazza di Spagna and Trinità dei Monti.
It's dark, it started raining. In spite of all the square is crowded, beautiful and lively. Inside the church of Trinità dei Monti there are two splendid paints by Caravaggio, La Conversione di Paolo and La Crocefissione di Pietro, powerfull, provocative. In the first one the bottom of an horse cover a large part of the paint, Paolo fallen on the ground, a violent light above. It's one of my favourites!
Vestales' Portico
But I'm not here for Caravaggio, I must confess, nor for the shopping. I want to visit the Keats and Schelley's Memorial House  
It's in the old house where Keats lived the last months of his short life, and died. He arrived to Rome already very sick so could see few of it. But the window of his room was open directly on Piazza di Spagna, because the home had been built before the Scalinata. One of the most fascinating and lively views in the city was available for free night and day for the poet and it should have been a confort in his awful pain.
Fontana del Tritone
When Keats died he wasn't famous, nor rich, just known in a small circle of Romantic writers who fell in love for his tragic story and made of him a myth. People started knocking at this door asking the landlady to see the room where the poet had died. Finally some mecenates bought it, gathered here a huge library about Romantic literature and opened it to the visit of passionate tourists. Like me!


Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti
"I weep for Adonais—he is dead!"
Shelley wrote in honour of Keats
      "Oh, weep for Adonais! though our tears
      Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!
      And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years
      To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers,
      and teach them thine own sorrow, say: "With me
      
Died Adonais; till the Future dares
Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity!"
...and I used to know his lines by heart. 
We ends the day in Piazza del Popolo, crowded, mondane. Then, a deluge washes away Rome and its beauty, ruins and churches, traffic and cars. It's only a dark rain storm and we run to Largo Argentina - where Caesar got killed - to take a crammed tram to Trastevere and the piazzeria I Marmi, as popular as cool, where we eat two supplì al telefono and one of the best pizza ever.

Keats' room

Piazza del Popolo:
Those two churches look identical but they aren't: Rainaldi made the miracle

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