It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how many times I return to Rome, I always find something new to do at a new place to explore. This week I took a new bus route near my apartment and the capolinea was right outside Basilica San Giovanni
During my October 2014 trip to Italy, St. Peter's became alomost a daily sight at different times of the day, since I often took the bus home at a bus stop nearby.
The big difference, the crowds, don't get me wrong the area is always full of tourists, but the lines at were always long every day at all different hours.
Today (3/1/16) I noticed the increased security, armed soldiers, mutiple check points.
It is said that Saint Peter in Chains is located in the spot where Saint Peter was condemned to death during Nero's ruling. Built around 442 it houses the relics of the chains that bound St. Peter when he was in prison in Jerusalem and another set of chains that held him while imprisoned in Rome. I learned while I was here that both sets of chains were placed together they miraculously united. The church also houses another one of Michelangelo's masterpieces, The Moses.
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is another one of those hidden gems in Rome. Here is were Saint Catherine of Siena is buried, or I should say where her body "senza testa" is buried, because her head is a relic at her homonymous church in Siena. The church gets it's name because it is built in 1280 over the ancient Roman temple dedicated to Minerva. Located near the Pantheon, don't let it simple facade fool you, and don't get distracted by the elephant sculpture in the piazza. Inside you will find, Michelangelo's The Redeemer, and many frescoes by Fillipo Lippi.
Images of Saint Peter in Vincoli & Santa Maria sopra Minerva
Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
Today I visited the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, it was built in 432 by Pope Sisto III, and it's the oldest and largest Basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary. There's a museum and archeological sites that can be visited. The Basilica holds the remains of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and as part of the Loggia tour you can admire the Bernini staircase, a helical staircase that will make your head spin! Also you can closely admire the mosaics in the loggia, which are the work of Filippo Rusuti and the center of the mosaics display an image of the Cristo Pantocrator. The museum holds relics from the Holy Crib, the Holy Cross, as well as from Christ Crown of Thorns.
Entrance to the Basilica is free, but if you want to tour the Loggia, the Archeological site and the Museum it will cost you 11 euros. There are separate tickets for each area in case you don't want to do all three.
From Roma Termini Bus H takes you to Trastevere (past the Tevere), this is a neighborhood that I've never visited and another rainy day was not going to stop my plans. My goal to day was to visit two basilicas; Santa Maria in Trastevere and Basilica San Paolo.
Santa Maria is the oldest basilica in Rome, dating back to 221, and it was rebuilt by Pope Innocent II in the 12th Century. Well the Pope didn't actually rebuilt the church but you get what I mean. In 1870 the Basilica underwent another renovation by Pope Pius IX. The basilica is decorated by beautiful mosaics and frescoes.
My fascination with Italy started in 2011 when I visited for the first time. In the last few years I've had the opportunity to explore this country, I've learned the language, I've tried to understand it's culture, and the more I know, the more I want to learn, the more I see, the more I want to experience...