Act 2, Scene 1
Roma Wrap-Up

Ancient Rome, The Italian Renaissance, And Postmodern Love

by Frederick Noble

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I’d survived the scariest roller coaster of my life, scrambled and scrounged together several thousand dollars, come 3,000 miles and left all the competition behind in a last-ditch effort to get Heather to open up the gates of her emotional fortress before she fled to San Francisco.
The gates were officially cracked. Only a hair’s width, but it was enough to get my foot in the door like some insistent door-to-door salesman.
Roman gargoyle

Our last day in Roma (Rome) Heather's feet were blistered even worse than mine. Where my dogs were merely whimpering, hers were howling so we planned an easier day, beginning with Villa Borghese, a museum on the North end of town.
We hopped on the metro (as with most of Europe, their mass transit puts ours to shame.) As we headed out of the station on the escalator, Heather was in front of me. An old man was in front of us while other people passed by on the down escalator.
Conservative Romans sometimes frown on public displays of affection but I was feeling uncharacteristically brave (hormonally, even) and Heather was rarely bothered by onlookers so I leaned up and playfully bit the back of her neck. She leaned back against me, head tilted back, her ass pushing against my hips. I groaned quietly but decided we’d gone far enough, so I stopped and rested my chin on her shoulder just as the old man in front of us turned to see what passers by were gawking at. The timing was perfect, he barely missed everything, so I gave him my best innocent and silly grin. He may still be wondering to this day why one guy passed by him on the other escalator, staring at us with a look that Heather described as "extremely disgusted." The old man turned back around while Heather and I tried to contain our laughter. We failed at the top of the escalator.

Villa Borghese was being renovated and most of the place was off limits but the sculptures on display were well worth the 4000 lire. And the museum is in the largest, though not best-kept, park in Roma. The North end of town is somewhat ritzy but we managed to find a bakery and have a pleasant lunch in the park.

From there we hopped back on the metro and tried to find San Pietro In Vincoli. It’s easy to miss, tucked in a small piazza just up the hill from the Colesseo. No map we had accurately shows the church so you may have to just follow the crowd or ask directions.
“St. Peter In Chains” is the church where they keep the supposed chains used on St. Pete. More importantly is the tomb of Pope Julius II done my Michelangelo.
“Christ!” exclaims Heather at the sight.
“No, Moses!” I respond.
I think it was Vasari who said “Lord help us should he ever raise that mighty foot.” The statue positively radiates power, truly the image of a man who dared defy God. To think it was only one of many figures that was planned for the memorial only makes it that much more awe inspiring. As a sculptor, I’m saddened that Michelangelo stopped work on the tomb to do the Sistine Chapel ceiling but that’s what the Pope wanted and even Michelangelo couldn’t win an argument with him, at least not for long. If you’re interested, go to Firenze and see the Academia where they keep some of the unfinished “Dying Slaves” that were also going to adorn the tomb.

We headed down the hill towards the Forum. It started to drip, then drizzle, then full on downpour so we fled into the Colesseo metro station. We watched the soaked tourists and locals alike pile into the station for shelter. I love to watch people. Pretty local girls in soaked white shirts, their olive skin showing through, big smiles as their cute boyfriends pull them close for warmth and affection, looking past them to the Colesseo, Heather’s wet skin pressed against me – the whole scene made me wonder if I weren't dreaming the entire day, if not the entire trip.

Roman church
I stumbled into this church on a return trip to Roma, decorated in a few hundred identical chandeliers that somehow still don't match the rest of the building. It does have a spectacular ceiling.

Marcus Aurelius bronze
This equestrian sculpture was once thought to be Constantine, so it was saved from being melted into canons. Later it was found to be Marcus Aurelius. It took hundreds of years before people learned how to do equestrian statues with legs raised again. This one, recently restored and absolutely glorious, stands in the Campidoglio, a piazza designed by Michelangelo on Capitoline Hill. He also designed the Palazzo dei Conservatori there, now housing some ancient Roman stuff.


 

Roma is like a layer cake with each layer made by a different cook - you have the obvious Roman ruins, but they were built on the ruins of the Etruscans before them. Since the fall of the Roman empire countless other empires and governments have come and gone, and you can feel the ghosts of them all as you walk around the town. face emerging from a building

Speaking of ghosts, just up the hill from the Colosseo near Piazza Barberini is the Church of L'Immacolata Concezione, housing the Capuchin Crypts. Several rooms display the bones of some 4000 monks done up in bizarre mosaics and sculptures. The particularly creepy ones still have some flesh drying on their corpses. Definitely worth a visit!

Capuchin bones
They don't allow photographs in the crypts so I had to scan one of their postcards.
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