Rome, day 3: From the Santa Maria Maggiore to the Capitoline Museums

 

This works well: we take the Metro to the destination where we want to start the day and walk all day to end up at the Metro station where we take the train home. We plan some sights we want to visit that day and make the walks in between as interesting as can be.

So today we started in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. One of the biggest (maggiore) churches in Rome. Legend says that it was build by pope Sixtus III between 432 and 440, to honour the Virgin Mary. The triumphal arch has magnificant 5th century mosaics depicting different scenes of Christ and the Virgin Mary. And in the Borghese Chapel we saw the famous icon of the Virgin Mary. It is known as Salus Populi Romani (Health of the Roman people), due to a miracle in which the icon helped to keep the plague from the city. The icon is at least a thousand years old, and according to a tradition was painted from life by St Luke the Evangelist using the wooden table of the Holy Family in Nazareth.

20161017_121944.jpgOn our way to the Forum Romanum we stopped at the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, famous for Michelangelo’s statue of Moses. Ever since I was a young girl I admired Michelangelo. At first for his paintings and frescoes. But after I had been in Florence and Rome I fell in love with his heavenly sculpturing talent. He made this statue of Moses between 513 and 515. Only when you have ever tried to sculpture in marble yourself (and I have) you can really admire his craftsmanship. The way he could bring this hard stone  to life, showing veins beating under skin, it is surreal.

On we went to the Forum Romanum, which lies next to the Colloseo we visited yersterday. For centuries this was the center of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue of public speeches, criminal trials and commercial trade. We had so much fun exploring this maze of ruins and architectural remains.

We had bought tickets to the Palatine Museums but during our lunch, next to the Capitoline Museums, we decided to go there, instead of the Palatine Museums. I remembered from (21) years ago the big feet in the the courtyard of the museum. And they are still there, together with the gigantic hands and head of this enormous statue it once must have been. On top of the Capitoline hills of Rome the historic seats of the museums are the Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo, facing on the central piazza in a plan concieved by Michelangelo.  The history of the museums can be traced to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV  donated a collection of important ancient bronzes to the people of Rome and located them on the Capitoline Hill. Since then, the museums’ collection has grown to include a large number of ancient Roman statues, inscriptions, and other artifacts.

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After visiting the museum the girls were tired and we decided to go back to the appartment, walking a scenic route towards the Metro on Piazza Barberini. Five days to go, we’ll plan our 4th day at dinner this evening.

Do you want to see more of Rome? Check out the pictures on Instagram.

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