Today, we had what Greg calls a “make and mend” day. We were not meeting Jose, as one of his cousins from Miami is in town, and I hope they are off eating and drinking and being merry. We certainly have been.
We had no particular time to be up and about, so we slept in….until 10:30. What decadence! We finally got moving and had cereal at home and started laundry. Jose thought we were lucky to have a washer in the apartment. I was surprised because there was no dryer. I need not have worried. A few minutes on the terrace on the clothes rack, and our things were dry, dry, dry.
Genene has been wanting to souvenir shop, and we needed to visit the ATM so we headed over to the Pantheon area. We strolled passed the Trevi Fountain and watched the crowds. Greg and I each got cash from the ATM, and we stopped in every junky trinket shop between the Pantheon and our apartment. We found one nice shop filled with wines, cheeses and kitchen items, and I got a bottle of Chianti that I am anxious to try. We also bought some “typical Roman pecorino cheese” and it is sharp and delicious. Genene has not seen exactly what she wants yet, but there is plenty of time. What she really wants are two toys that are sold by the gypsies on the Spanish Steps. One is a helicopter-like object that shoots high into the air and blinks its rainbow-colored lights. The other is some kind of gel toy that the Romas throw to the ground. It makes a squeaky groaning sound and splatters flat, and then begins to reconstitute itself. Genene is fascinated with them. So far I have refused to buy them because I hate dealing with street vendors. I am suspicious of them. In the end, I am sure she will win out, but I will end up dealing with the gypsies.
We walked back to our apartment and bought a sandwich from a shop on our block. This is our second visit there, and I predict we will become regulars. The sandwiches are economical and spare, yet delicious. Most of them have no more than four ingredients: toasted flat bread with some kind of meat, cheese, spread, and greens. The staff is very friendly and English-speaking, and the sandwich comes wrapped in white paper, suitable for walking down the street with while taking a munch. They are yummy. We see lots of Italians eating the sandwiches too, so I think they are fairly authentic.
After a short break at the apartment, we headed out for our only adventure of the day, a visit to see the Capuchin crypt. What a truly creepy experience!
The Capuchins are a branch of Franciscan monks. They wear the dark brown robes and hood (cappuccio), for which the coffee drink is named. The crypt is located below the church known as Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini. In 1631, a cardinal ordered the Capuchin friars' bones to be buried here, and thousands of skeletons were relocated to the crypt. According to legend, it is unknown who came up with the idea to arrange their bones. One theory is that it was the monks themselves. Another theory is that it was a person ordered to do penance (or imprisoned) down below. Whoever it was was one twisted brother. The bones are arranged artistically and elaborately in several different rooms with clever names like Crypt of the Resurrection, Crypt of the Skulls, Crypt of the Pelves, Crypt of the Leg Bones and Thigh Bones and
Crypt of the Three Skeletons. A sign (now translated into five languages) ominously warns:
“What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be…”
Genene was absolutely enthralled. Greg and I were spooked. It is a truly bizarre place. We have been to the catacombs in Paris, and the bones there are stacked in much greater magnitute, in the millions as opposed to this crypt of 4,000 friars' bones. However, the Capuchins have the Parisians beat by a country mile in the macabre, artistic department. These bones are arranged in intricate patterns on the walls and the ceilings. There are even chandeliers made of bones. The crypt is first noted in literature by the Marquis de Sade in 1775, so folks have been staring in macabre fascination at this place since before Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne was also intrigued by the place,” and Mark Twain wrote of it in “Innocents Abroad.”
Photography was not allowed in the crypt, so I bought some postcards and took photos of them so I could share. Everything you see in the photos is made of human bone. As Genene said, “Awesome! And freaky!”
Well, after something like that, everyone needed a stiff drink. We headed across the street and sat at an outdoor cafe and watched the world go by. Genene had a fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, while I had a glass of red wine and Greg enjoyed a cold beer.
We watched as a young man pushed his woman up the hill on some kind of bicycle contraption. Chivalry lives.
We laughed about how dirty Genene's new Crocs have gotten in the Rome soot and grime.
We marveled at the narrow streets that accommodate the cars, Vespas and people.
We strolled over to the Spanish Steps and watched the people.
I love to see the Italian men all dressed up like peacocks, strutting their stuff.
Genene ran up and down the steps like a wild thing.
All the books speak of the “golden light” that appears at the end of the Roman day. It really exists.
I watched my daughter drink out of the fountain, just like a Roman would.
It was a good day.