A Night at the Opera
Trip Start Jun 21, 2009
7Trip End Jun 27, 2009
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Where I stayed
On from there to San Giovanni in Laterno - the original major cathedral in Rome. Again like St Peters this one was filled with marble and gold and huge statues - a line up of saints and a few popes. What I kind of like is being able to sit down for a bit of a rest in the churches especially since my back is sore and, unfortunately the hushed voices and bit of god rock playing in the background made me nod off for a moment.
Time for lunch in a small bar opposite (la Merulana)
From there I had been going onto San Clemente - a church of many levels but it was closed so I walked onto the Colliseum. It was quite hot so I decided not to do the Paletine Hill and Forum till tomorrow so this meant I had to go into the long queue but again I didn't seem to be waiting long since it was after lunch. There are clear upsides to being a late riser.
The Colliseum is collosal - although that's not why it got its name. It also looks like an amazing piece of engineering and had a retractable roof a bit like they have at Wimbledon by the sounds of it. That's not in use any more though. It all sounds very gory though with wanton destruction of men and animals. It was difficult to get a real feel for how the stadium would have looked as the inside hasn't stood up as well to the test of time as the outside - it was all filled in with earth at one point and some bits appear to be mounds of bricks (were they there originally and did the seats go over them?). However there was a maze of rooms and corridors below the stage which was fascinating and it looks like the theatre trapdoor probably emanated from here as they liked the gladiators and animals to pop up in the middle of the arena
It was too hot to go to the Paletine Hill so I went back to St Clemente for a look around. This is a church that has been rebuilt 3 times one on top of the other. Originally a pagan temple with a spring which was worshipped, an early Christian church was built above it then a further church was built above that.
It was quite dark and damp and progressively more dank as I went further down and into the rooms which have been excavated. There was one quite funny piece of carving and I wonder how it was put to use: a stone was carved on one side with pagan symbolism and on the other with Christian words and it was mounted to spin over so you could see both sides. I'd like to think that this was how it was in the church and the Catholics reverted to pagan activity when it took their fancy but I think the reality is that the stone was recycled by the christians and its a modern addition have it mounted.
Another quiet time for contemplation (without falling asleep this time) before I walked back to the hotel. This time to get ready to go the Opera. Actually there was nothing of note on at the Opera House but there was a performance of well known arias from various operas on at the church round the corner and as this is a week of cultural development, how could I not go? The acoustics were fabulous - I was trying to see whether the artistes were wearing mikes but they weren't. The sound just filled the hall and it was such a lovely way to spend the evening - I should do culture more often. I tried very hard not to hum along during the performance but when I left, I went away humming along to a song from Rigoletto. Dinner at the Matriciana again where I was recognised by the waiter who was helping me with a few words of italian - promptly forgotten, those Talk Italian cd's were a complete waste of time as I keep dropping Spanish and a few words of French in when I'm a rabbit in headlights.