Campane, Ucelli, Harley Riders, and the Capuchin Crypt (Bone mosaics)


Before we left, I was reading in the Statesman that the Harley riders were having their big reunion in Austin this weekend. Little did I suspect that they would also be converging on Rome. The good news is that they can’t ride their bikes through most of the old town center, which is pedonale (pedestrian) only, but they walk in large groups, and even though their jackets say they’re from Traviso, for instance, they still look just like Harley riders at home with the black leather jackets, tattoos, women with pink hair, all middle-aged or older, trying to recapture their youth. So, we’re not hearing a lot of backfiring from Harleys, but we are hearing the birds and the ringing of bells every quarter hour, each church being just a little bit off in its ringing so that the bells harmonize..


This morning we found our neighborhood bar for capuccini e brioche. It’s much cheaper and more interesting if you take your items al banco, or standing at the bar. It’s quiet in il centro because it’s a Sunday. We are going to Mass in a few minutes at the Pantheon. I love going to Mass in Italy because you get time to sit quietly in these beautiful, ancient buildings with no other tourists.

Pui tardi (later)…
Mass was beautiful in the Pantheon, and I could make out that the Gospel reading was about Mary Magdelene washing Jesus’ feet with perfume and her hair. Key words: piedi, profuma, capelli. And of course I picked out many Mass words: Il Signore for Our Lord, lots of Pace, Dios, Figlio, cielo (Pace, God, Son, heaven). I kept looking up at the oculus, the pick hole at the top of the dome where the natural light comes in. I read that it’s good luck to see it snow through the occula. The Pantheon was the first Roman temple converted to a Catholic Church.

Next Richard chose the agenda. We went to the Capuchin crypt. The Capuchin monks were a strict order of St. Francis, who lived with the poor and healed the sick. In the 1700s, someone (several theories) took the bones of all the dead monks, and make “mosaics” if you will, and created several rooms of them. The inscription reads, translated: “We were once like you all. You all will become like us.” I have to say, it was very creepy. One room was mainly skulls, the other was the room of the pelvis; the artist must have separated all the bones for different parts. One circular designs on one of the ceilings was made of jaw bones. I have no photos, but I’ll see if I can’t load one from the Internet.

We walked home via the Spanish Steps, refilled our water bottles at the sunken boat fountain and went on to the Trevi Fountain (so far the coins have worked!) and back by the Marcus Aurelius victory column. Now it’s pausa. It’s very hot in Rome, so we will venture out again in the early evening. The last photo is of our street, right when we walk out of our apartment.






About ssteven2

I'm a reader, writer, swimmer, and school librarian. I love my summers so I can travel.
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4 Responses to Campane, Ucelli, Harley Riders, and the Capuchin Crypt (Bone mosaics)

  1. sandra062013 says:

    Sara, love your narrative and the photos, wonderful, as always! Glad to see you got there safely, don’t know how you are doing without AC in Roma in June, though! Really liked the bit about the Capuchin Crypt – so glad Richard chose that for you to go to – especially liked the “Room of the Pelvis,” ha! More about the food, though, please, you know me! Walked in our neighborhood today and thought of you when I saw many sightings of the “Crown of Barbados.”

    • ssteven2 says:

      Sandra, I tried to respond earlier, but I don’t think it came through. Yes, I will try to write more about food, but it’s just pasta, pizza, capuccino, and spritz! Yes, you can buy them in little pre-mixed bottles at the grocery store. I think we choose restaurants based more on ambience. I just love the piazzetta we ate at this evening: Piazetta della Pace. I couldn’t stop looking at the building across the way with vines climbing down against the rust-colored stucco. But tomorrow night we’ll eat at the cafe across the street, named after our street: Ristorante Montevecchio.

  2. Jana Kennon says:

    Sara–How funny about the Harley riders! I wouldn’t ever have guessed they would converge on Rome. You know, they have been pretty quiet here this weekend–I haven’t seen really any at all. We did see a couple at, of all places Clark’s, last night. Maybe they are much more cultured than we think–world travelers, etc. I am very glad that they can’t roar through the town center.
    How lovely to hear the church bells instead. Hilarious that there are welcome signs for them in windows–and in English to boot!

    I love that you went to Mass–I can only imagine how beautiful and peaceful it must be with the worshipers there. You are doing really well interpreting the language–it’s great that the religious words are familiar.

    The crypt does sound rather macabre, but quite fascinating. I am trying to imagine the artists separating all of the monks’ bones to create the different mosaics in the rooms. I guess there can be art in anything! And, the monks’ legacies are certainly unforgettable.

    Your pictures are so great! The sky is sooo blue–gorgeous. And, I love the photo of Jack in the coffee shop–he looks like he’s trying to make a very difficult decision–maybe what sort of pastry to have with his coffee?? He’s so adorable!

    I hope the lack of AC doesn’t get to you–hopefully at night, it cools off enough and will continue to do so. I love the photo taken right outside your apt. The narrow streets are so charming with the cobblestones and the beautiful old buildings.

    You have already done so much! I am so glad you are having such a wonderful time.


    • ssteven2 says:

      Thanks, Jana. Our taxi driver told us, in Italian that I understood : ), that it was the 110th anniversary of Harley Davidson, and that’s why it was a big rally in Rome. Macabre is the word I should have used in the post on the Capuchin crypt. It really gave you a sense of your own mortality. And I also thought about the guy sifting through all the different bones. I’m going to get on R.’s computer to see if I can’t find some photos of it for you to see. Ciao.

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