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If you are interested in visiting the many churches in Rome to view the amazing art on display, please be aware that most churches close for several hours in the middle of each day. This means that you should plan your visits in such a way that allows you to get into all the places you wish to see.
For us, that meant working out a schedule so that we started with the earliest opening churches and we tried to stay in one central area to see everything in one spot during the morning hours. Most of the churches we wanted to see were near the Piazza Navona and Pantheon, so we checked out the churches and then during lunch when the churches were closed is when we went to the piazza and the Pantheon, both of which are open all day long. Other sites such as the Trevi Fountain or Spanish Steps can be viewed during this lunch period. Later in the day, we wandered towards the second area of churches to complete our tour. There were a couple churches that were more out of the way from these two locations and knowing the schedules ahead of time, we visited these on other days on our way to some of the other sites we were visiting.
The best thing to do is map out what you hope to see – prioritize if necessary so that you don’t miss your must-see churches. Then obtain the current hours from the web or your guide books. List these all on a piece of paper or your map that you can take with you. After several churches, the times all seem to blur together so don’t trust your memory. Get an early start and be at the first church when they open. Allow some extra time for your final church so you aren’t trying to slide in as they are closing the doors. Then repeat in the afternoon after the churches reopen.
Updated Mar 22, 2013
There is lots of great art in Rome – in museums, in churches, in other buildings, outside. And there are lots of people that want to take pictures of this art.
Many places will permit you to take photos but without a flash. And that is with good reason – over time the constant flashes will damage the paintings. It would be the same as keeping the lights on it – over time, damage occurs. And we want these wonderful pieces of art to remain as is so future generations can enjoy them. And even if flash is allowed, if you don’t need to use it, then try to get along without it – think of it as prolonging the life of the artwork.
However, a number of places do not permit photography or videos of any kind – not cameras, not cell phone cameras, nothing, nada, zero. Please adhere to these restrictions. Many of the more well attended tourist attractions have guards that look for cameras – and they do not hesitate to call you out. I personally watched several people have these guards come right up to them and get in their faces about taking photos.
Most places have a sign at the entrance that lets you know if photography is allowed, permitted without flash, or prohibited. If in doubt, ask.
Be mindful of other people in your photos – not everyone likes their picture taken. And try to take your photo quickly so you do not disturb others. Most places do not allow tripods, so you may not want to even bring one with you. In churches, be mindful of those who are actually there to worship.
If you can’t take photos in the place you are in, just relax and enjoy the reason you came – to see the beautiful artwork and architecture in Rome!
Updated Mar 22, 2013
I happen to love cappuccino, but had heard that it is only drank at breakfast and that if you ask for it at any other time the waiter might look at you like you escaped from an insane asylum.
Generally cappuccino is drank in the morning, however, if you ask for it they will serve you some any time of day or night:)
Was it good in Rome? Oh God yes!
Written Feb 23, 2013
Unless you master Italian you’ll struggle. I attended an Italian course some years ago, but it was barely enough to communicate with the locals. I was surprised that very few Italians in the centre of Rome were able to communicate in English at a basic level. I have had one year of sign language interpreting at the university, but it didn’t help very much, so a dictionary will come in handy.
You should also learn the Italian words for public transport and learn to count in Italian.
Written Sep 19, 2012
Visiting Rome's wonderful churches, I wonder how many tourists see them as anything more than repositories of a venerable history or magnificent art? Of course they are that, but they also play an important part in the lives of the folk who live within their parish boundaries as we saw when we visited the Basilica of St Agnes (The Basilica di Sant'Agnese Fuori le Mura -St. Agnes Outside the Walls) and the adjacent Mausoleum of Santa Constanza, a church itself these days.
Saint Agnes's martyrdom came early when she refused to marry the son of one of Diocletian's prefects at the height of the empire's persecution of Christians. The chapel in the catacombs where she was buried became a place of pilgrimage where Constanza (the daughter of Constantine the Great and one of the Imperial family's earliest converts to Christianity) chose to be buried. The imperial mausoleum above Constanza's tomb - now a church - was raised in a half a century later. The basilica was built above the catcombs in the 7th century. It features a lovely mosaic of the little saint in the apse and acces to the catacombs - all of which would seem to place it in the church-as-museum category of scores of other churches around the city.
We were privileged to experience a little of the community life of these churches - not only seeing a wedding party at Santa Constanza's but spending some time watching the bocce games being played out at the Saint Agnes Community Centre in the garden between the two churches where elderly card players and the mothers and children who were taking part in holiday activities there gathered in the bar at the end of their games. How lovely to see the generations together and to see the part this ancient church plays in their lives.
Just 12 years old when she was martyred, Saint Agnes became the patron saint of young girls, a lamb the symbol of her purity and innocence ("agnus" - lamb in Latin - is also a play of words on her name). Traditionally, young girls have played out a ritual on the eve of her martyrdom to see who their husband will be. On the Feast Day itself, January 21, two lambs are brought to the church to be blessed by the pope after a pontifical high Mass there. They are shorn on Holy Thursday and their wool is woven into pallia, ceremonial neck-stoles, which are then sent by the Pope to newly-appointed Metropolitan archbishops who wear them to symbolise their union with the papacy.
The church and catacombs are open daily from 09000 -1200 and 1600-1800. Entry to the church is, of course, free. Guided tours of the catacomb cost 5 euro.
Open: Monday 0900-1200; Tuesday-Saturday: 0900-1200, 1600-1800; Sunday: 1600-1800
The church can be found in the area known as Nomentana, a short distance outside the city walls, north-east of Termini
Address: Via Nomentana 349. Take Bus #36 from Termini or #60 from Piazza Venezia
Updated May 3, 2012
One thing is for sure, Rome is never boring place especially around Christmas and New Year times. There are plenty of musicians, artists and acrobats all over the city, trying to make some extra money for spending more enjoyable end of the year. This international group of youngsters performed their fire show at Piazza Spagna, nothing spectacular but attractive to watch.
Updated Dec 12, 2011
Nicola di Renzo Gabrini (1313-1354), best known as Cola di Rienzo was medieval politician and popular leader, Tribune of the Roman people in the mid of 14th century. He was of humble origins but managed to get very good education. Cola di Rienzo became a notary and a person of some importance in the city, and was sent on a public errand to Pope Clement VI in Avignon. There at Avignon he won the favour and esteem of the pope, who gave him an official position at his court. After one year of serving pope Cola returned to Rome gathering there a band of supporters. Very soon, after eloquent speech in the parliament against the aristocracy a new series of laws was published and accepted, giving authority and power to Rienzo. Rienzo took the title of tribune without stricking a blow, while the nobles left the city or went into hiding.
Very soon the new tribune was accepted by all classes because Rienzo governed the city with the stearn justice. Under his rule the city streets were cleared of robbers and the tranquillity was restored at homes. The tribune was regarded by all the people as the destined restorer of Rome and Italy.
As it usually happens with people on power, Rienzo in time become the victim of his own extravagant pretensions. His government was costly and to meet its many expensies he was obliged to lay heavy taxes upon the people. He ofended the pope by his arrogancy and pride and Clement gave power to a legate to depose him and and gring him to trial. In his bull the pope denunced Cola as a criminal, a pagan and a heretic. Soon after Cola was forced to abdicate his government and fled from Rome.
The statue of tribune, by Girolamo Masini, was erected in 1877 at the foot of Capitoline Hill.
Updated Dec 1, 2011
In 1878 the Italian Parliament decided to build the monument, dedicated to the first King of unified Italy. It was Vittorio Emanuele II who unified Italy in 1861, a territory which before unification was divided in more then dozen small states. At the same time, there was the idea of founding museum destined to gather the testimonies of the political, economical and social transformation of Italy during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The testimonies consist of papers, paintings, sculptures, prints, arms etc. which recall the events and cheaf protagonists.
Museo Centrale del Risorgimento is integral part of Vittoriano complex, which is also called "Altare della patria" (the altair of the homeland).
Updated Nov 30, 2011
January 6 is national holiday in Italy and traditions of La Befana are a big part of Christmas celebrations. Epiphany commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the Three Wise Men arrived at the manger bearing gifts of Baby Jesus.
The traditional celebration of Epiphany includes the tale of a witch known as La Befana, who arrives on her broomstick during a night of January 5th and fills the stockings with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones. Children hang their stockings on the evening of January 5th awaiting the visit of La Befana.
Written Nov 29, 2011
Piazza Navona is definatelly the most adorable square of Roman citizens, it is always crowded by the locals and visitors but in particularly during month of December. This square has some special charm, closed from all sides and offering to visitors a sort of playground ambiance. No wonder this square was choosen for small Xmass fair box offering cheap souvenirs and carusels for the kids.
Updated Nov 29, 2011
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