Day 1 – Rome

My trip started out in a frenzy when I got caught up in the Lufthansa strike, and my flight to Rome was cancelled. My plans could have all collapsed like a house of cards, but fortunately I got an earlier flight on United and took off at 8:30 in the morning rather than a leisurely 2 in the afternoon.

Took the train from the airport into Rome. All’s well, and I’m going to bed early now to catch up on sleep.

I spent some hours today visiting the Capuchin Monastery on the Via Veneto, which is just around the corner and down the street from my “hotel” in the Istituto Concezione N.S. di Lourdes, a monastery stay which has a great location near the Piazza di Spagna and prices that are reasonable. I hear lots of bells. Maybe they are calls to prayer.

In the 18th century, one of the Capuchin monks got the idea to use the bones of fellow Capuchin friars to decorate the crypts, which resulted in amazing arrangements of skulls, shin bones, fibula and scapulas.

The chapel walls and ceilings are covered with skeletal body parts. It’s somewhat macabre, but the Capuchins, like St. Francis, liked to contemplate death as a spiritual practice (along with self-flagellation and other forms of extreme denial.) Quite an interesting museum. The convent used to occupy acres of land, but in the 19th century many of its buildings were destroyed to make way for the Via Veneto.

Wifi is hard to find, and Macdonalds at Piazza di Spagna is supposed to be a hotspot. It was a madhouse with underground seating but not one seat available, as tourists and Romans alike sipped coffees and sodas with their Big Macs and fries. Never again, not even for the wifi. However, the qualIty of baked goods looks to be much better than in the States.

I came across a man selling chestnuts on the Piazza di Spagna. He said the chestnuts came from Viterbo, not too far from Rome. The colorful hanging chestnuts turned out to be plastic, but the chestnuts he sold were tasty and real.

Then I came across a man giving a tarot reading, and I had to include this photo for my friend Wendy. I think the young man may have been a shill.

Tomorrow I might visit the catacombs. We shall see.

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