San Clemente , Spanish steps and the Piazza del Popolo
Today started rather interestingly we decided to give the Roman bus service a go, but we really chose the wrong day.
Unbeknown to us, there was a huge protest planned, and the protest route was straight through the route our bus should have taken, so our bus was cancelled. After a 40 minute wait we gave up and caught a taxi, who had to drop us off a kilometre from our destination.
Protesting Roman style straight past the coliseum, past the Roman forum and past the Vittorio Emmanuele monument. There was literally hundreds of people, banging drums blowing whistles and chanting.
The Ludus Magnus
As we passed the protest, we passed these ruins
Ok I ll fess up here I took this photo having no idea what this was, so using my resources effectively I messaged Amy and she filled me in, this is the Ludus Magnus, the gym and barracks of the gladiators ( which Amy had explained to us when we did the coliseum tour). There is an underground tunnel that runs from these ruins to the coliseum so the gladiators could enter the coliseum.
Unfortunately there are no images to go with this post. We arrived at San Clemente 1hr before it was due to close for lunch. So we rushed inside ( where I couldn't take photos) and then when we left we headed off for our lunch and I forgot to take a photo.
So what's special about this church well,
In the 11th century BC a basilica was built on top of a a 4th-century church, which, in turn, stands over a 2nd-century pagan temple and a 1st-century Roman house and Beneath all of that are foundations dating from the Roman Republic. Which you can see. . . .
The lowest levels contain remnants of the foundation of a industrial building that might have been destroyed in the great fire of 64 and may have been the imperial mint of Rome, at some stage an insula or multi-level house was built alongside these ruins separated by a narrow alleyway. About a hundred years later the central room of the insula was remodelled to create a sanctuary for the cult of Mithras. During the 4th century the lower level of the industrial building and the mithreum was filled in with dirt and rubble and the second floor was remodelled and the first basilica of San Clemente was created. In 1120 AD the current San Clemente was built, it is believed that the 4th century Basilica was in such a state of disrepair that they ensured that the surrounding walls were strengthened and the building was filled with rubble and the new Bascilica was built on top.
The current Basilica is stunning, and the subterranean buildings are pretty amazing as well, such an amazing thing to be able to see three buildings stacked one on top of the other.
The Spanish steps
I was a little disappointed when we arrived at the Spanish Steps to discover they were behind barriers, but I was pretty relieved to know that they are renovating them, so they will be preserved In to the future. It was interesting to see people sitting , patiently, gently cleansing the holes in the marble, then refilling the holes with some type of paste. They are a beautiful sight even behind the glass barrier.
The renovations are being funded by Bvlgari and they have cleverly placed images of famous people on the steps as you go up ( on the left hand side) look how young Roger Moore is . . . . There was no image of Audrey Hepburn ( you all know I m a huge fan ) but that was because in Roman holiday she decends the stairs on the right hand side.
Piazza Del Popolo
The piazza del popolo is a large square about a 10 min walk from the Spanish steps. Piazza del popolo translates in modern terms to people's square.
This was once called the Porta Flaminia , but is now referred to as the Porta del popolo. In Ancient Rome this the starting point for the most important road to the north and was therefore often the first thing travellers seen as they entered Rome.
Fontana del Nettuno
For many centuries this square was the place for public executions in Rome. Apparently the last execution took place in 1826.
The twin churches , Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria del Miracoli. The road down the middle is the Via del Corso, which we walked many times during our stay in Rome, as it was the quickest route back to our apartment.
This was a very interesting day , a much quieter day than we had had previously in Rome.