Saturday, September 22, 2007

My Italy Diary: Rome, Part 3

Today we walked and walked. First we headed toward San Giovanni in Laterano. The is well past the Coloseum and took us a while. We first stopped to have a coffee and grab a bite to eat just downstairs. The Churches are already beginning to run together and the next takes the place of the one before in your mind. On the way to Laterano we made a quick pass through the Fori Imperiali, then on to the Temples of the Forum Boarium, one of which is under restoration. Across the street is Santa Maria in Cosmedin, where there was a line to get in—the line was long but only because everyone, including us, wants to stop and put their hands in the Bocca del Verita (Mouth of Truth), which has hung here since 1632, and have their picture taken. It was once thought that a liar would loose his hands if he placed them in the mouth of the Bocca del Verita. It seems there was once a jealous husband who decided to see if his wife was unfaithful to him and had her put her hand in the open mouth. Supposedly, as she was about to put her hand in the Mouth, a stranger from the crowd ran up to her and started hugging and kissing her. Everyone thought the man was crazy, but in fact, he was her lover. She put her hand in the Mouth of Truth and said that she had never been touched by anyone other than her husband and the crazy man, so when she put her hand in the Mouth of Truth it was not bitten. After this you enter the Church and find it relatively empty. The Mouth of Truth is obvisously the draw here.

We then headed for San Giovanni in Laterano, detouring through a lovely park where we saw 3 brides with their grooms posing for photograhps. This was followed by a short walk through a rather seedy neighborhood before we found our destinatin. It was quite a hike but well worth it. This Church is massive and the paintings and staturary magnificent. We followed our visit with a quick lunch and started back toward ancient Rome. We had hoped to visit the Baths of Caracalla, but we were worn out. We did stop at San Clementes, which is very old, with exposed wooden beans on the ceiling. And then stopped for a glass of wine in Piazza Navona where we watched six young men dancing and putting on a show for the crowd. This is the the time of day we like most; the temperature has dropped and the piazza is full of people—artists, tourists, and locals. One of the performers was on crutches as it looked as if he might have cerebal palsy. He was incredible, spinning his legs around, picking up one crutch to pass his legs through them. At one point, he even did a hand stand on his crutches and was jumping them. He seemed so happy to be performing with his friends, you truly couldn’t help but feel happy along with him.

We dined at this little pizzaria tonight just down from our apartment. We had to wait a while, but we didn’t mind. We had a couple glasses of wine and when a table was available outside we wound up sitting by three young Americans, one of whom now lives in London. We enjoyed chatting with them for a while and were the last to leave the restaurant.

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