Rome Day 2: Renaissance Rome

25 Jul

Knitting Content (because this is supposed to be a knitting blog).

Last night, I sat down and knit 2 rows on the Alpine Knit Shawl. All my attention except about 10% of my brain was focused. Apparently 90% brain focus will not work for this knit. I got halfway through the second row, and realized I had done the first row all wrong. So this morning I swallowed my pride and put in stitch markers to divide the pattern repeats. You may be able to see small safety pins in there; that’s were I completely forgot to YO, and thus messed up an entire repeat, explaining why I couldn’t get the next row to work right. I’m thinking of going down a needle size as well; I think I’ll take a poll tonight at Knit Night.

Rome Day 2: Renaissance Rome

Flickr set can be found here. Remember, click on the individual pictures to bring them up larger and to see the detailed descriptions I’ve added. The set includes pictures of some things I mention here, and some I don’t.

We started the second day by taking the metro to a stop across the Tiber River. The plan was to start far away, and walk back toward our hotel as the day progressed. We arrived at our first stop, the Piazza di Sant’Angelo, and looked back across the street to see St. Peter’s Basilica at the end of Via della Concilazione. This road was built during Mussolini‘s reign as a lead up to St. Peter’s. The building of this boulevard required the demolition of numerous medieval neighborhoods, making it, although beautiful, one of the most hated roads in Rome.

Turning around, we were able to see the impressive Castel Sant’Angelo. The bridge here, Ponte Sant’Angelo, leads into the main entrance of the castle. Originally built by Hadrian in 135 AD as a mausoleum, the structure was later turned into a fortress, treasure vault, and pleasure palace by Renaissance Popes.

After walking around the castle and exclaiming at it’s interesting architecture and moats, we began walking down Via Giulia. Via Giulia was built during the reign of Pope Julius II (1503-1513) to provide easier access to the Vatican. During this time, it was the widest, straightest, and longest street in Rome. Today, it is still a beautiful street to stroll down, but is only wide enough for one car to pass at a time. While traversing this street, we passed houses once owned by Raphael, Sangallo, and Cosimo di’Medici.

We passed a great number of beautiful churches, and were struck by the appearance of this one, the most macabre building in Rome. This is the Santa Maria dell’Orazione e Morte. It was built around 1575 and belonged to an order of monks whose job it was to collect and bury the bodies of the unclaimed masses. An underground chamber led from the church to the Tiber, where the bodies were carried away. (See the skulls on the sides of the doors? Creepy!)

The next stop was Campo de’ Fiori. This is an open-air market in the heart of Rome where vendors arrive early in the morning to sell fruit, vegetables, and meats, as well as flowers and other wares. We arrived around 1 in the afternoon, so many vendors had already packed up, but plenty were still there. It was something to see, especially since open-air food markets are few and far between here in the States. This site used to be the center of Rome, and was once the location of many executions of religious heretics during the 1500s.

We then strolled through Piazza Navona, the largest piazza, surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and shops. In the middle of this piazza is one of Bernini’s most famous fountains, the Fountain of the Four Rivers. Unfortunately, this fountain was being cleaned and we couldn’t see much of it for all the scaffolding. Piazza Navona was laid out in 86 AD as a stadium to house games, it’s marble stripped away in the 4th century by Constantine, and rebuilt as a baroque piazza during the Renaissance.

From there, we continued walking and passed a few more churches of grand design, some of which we entered, and some we didn’t. Pictures of a few of these are on the Flickr page. We continued walking until we turned a corner and saw….

The Pantheon. Crowds of tourists (and probably a few locals, as well) were smashed under the roof of this building, attempting to partake in the shade of the colossal building. We had stopped for some pizza just a block or so away, so like many others we ate our lunch sitting on the base of one of the pillars of the Pantheon.

The Pantheon (meaning “all the gods”) is the most well preserved structure from ancient times. Built in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa and rebuilt in 125 AD by Hadrian, and was originally dedicated to all the Roman gods. In 609 AD, however, the Pope rededicated the building and made it a church. It’s dome is the widest in the world, exceeding even the dome atop St. Peter’s Basilica (by 2 feet). In fact, Michelangelo studied this particular dome before designing the dome of St. Peter’s.


The dome of the Pantheon has an oculus, or hole, right in the middle, which is the only source of light for the entire structure. Amazingly, the building appears highly illuminated throughout, even though the sun was at quite an angle when we arrived.

Raphael was laid to rest inside the Pantheon, but his tomb (shown below) was not discovered until around 125 years ago. A visible inscription in front of the tomb bears his full name.

After the marvel of the Pantheon, we visited one more beautiful church, once a Gothic building, but remodelled and no longer Gothic, the Santa Maria sopra Minerva, before heading back to the hotel for a much needed rest. Once our feet were no longer hurting, we headed out to find dinner, walking past the Teatro Marcello.

The ruins of this theatre are fairly well preserved, and are surrounded by ruins of even older temples. The theatre is situated on the edge of the Jewish Ghetto, and we had dinner in the Ghetto, just around the corner and in clear sight of the ruins of the theatre.

Tomorrow we visit the Trastavere and Vatican City, including the Vatican museum and the Sistine Chapel.

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2 Responses to “Rome Day 2: Renaissance Rome”

  1. Karen July 25, 2007 at 3:24 pm #

    Sounds like you had a great trip! Glad you made it there and back safely – looking forward to seeing you tonight!

  2. Elke July 25, 2007 at 8:44 pm #

    The alpine lace shawl is supposedly one of the most challenging pieces in Victorian Lace. It’s so beautiful, though!

    How is that antique laceweight working up? If it’s awful I won’t be offended if you set it aside for something more modern. Yarn has come a long way in recent years.

    I’m always amazed at your descriptions of Rome. It’s always, we came around a corner and there was the Pantheon. So much history in such a small place. I’m loving it!

    I hope everyone had a good time at knit night. I’ll be there for sure on August 15!

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