Week 7: Part 2: Day 44 & 45
25th & 26th January, 2017
Back into the Heart
Today our generous host Massimo, accompanied us back into the city. First stop the magnificent Circus Maximus. Here the boys ran, squealed and jumped where once Rome’s finest racing chariot’s thundered by…
We ascended Rome’s southernmost hill, the Aventine Hill. Suddenly the tourists fell away as we entered lesser known Rome. Aventino is one of the seven hills on which Rome was famously built.
Here we sat enjoying the stunning views in the pretty Orange Grove (Giardini degli Aranci). Legend says that Spanish Saint Dominic planted the first orange tree in Rome here. We quietly soaked in the views, behind the famous Basilica of Santa Sabina, aware of the trickling fountain and the laughter of local children.
Our host Massimo then surprised us with a broad green door to which we could not enter. Peering through the keyhole here is to see one of the many secrets of Rome – buco della serratura roma. This key hole in the gate of the Priorate of the Knights of Malta offers a magnificent furtive peep straight at St. Peter’s Basilica, exquisitely framed by two rows of manicured, luscious trees. We were delighted.
Pictures don’t capture it, it is something you have to see for yourself…
The Mouth of Truth
We passed near the Bocca della Verita (lions mouth of truth) and had to take cheesy photo’s. Of course we placed our hand in the gaping mouth, whilst telling the truth. They say a lie, may mean, you lose your hand – he he.
The Mouth of Truth weighs 1300 kg and probably depicts the face of the sea god Oceanus. It is known mostly from its appearance in the 1953 film Roman Holiday, one of Prunella’s favourite films. The film uses the Mouth of Truth as a storytelling device since both Hepburn’s and Peck’s characters are not initially truthful with each other.
Pyramid and Poets
Back down hill to the Cimitero Acattolico (The non-catholic cemetery) to gaze upon the graves of English poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Keats died in Rome of tuberculosis at the age of 25, and is buried in the cemetery. His epitaph, which does not mention him by name, is by his friends Joseph Severn and Charles Armitage Brown, and reads:
This grave contains all that was mortal, of a young English poet, who on his death bed, in the bitterness of his heart, at the malicious power of his enemies, desired these words to be engraven on his tombstone:
Here lies one whose name was writ in water. – wiki
This cemetery is also famous for it’s resident cats and more so, for being the place of the Pyramid of Cestius. The pyramid was built about 18–12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius. It is constructed of brick-faced concrete covered with slabs of white marble standing on a travertine foundation. It is a weird but awe inspiring site.
After lunch at a local park we said good bye to our host and headed back into the city. We had to cram in a few more things on our last day in Rome.
Last Moments and Lasting Friends
One more time gazing at the magnificent forum. One more pistachio gelati on the street. Another espresso. Of course, no visit to Rome would be complete with out the famous throwing of the coins into Trevi fountain. Local legend says that if you do this, you will surely one day come back to Rome. We all took a turn…
It has always worked for us 😉
Our amazing day ended again, in the warm bosom of our couchsurfing family eating at their favourite local haunt – Happy Pizza. Thanks guys.
The Pizza was wonderful, the company genuine and we knew that tomorrow meant goodbyes to all, as we headed towards home.