One Trullo, and it Truly is Two Trulli

IMG_5639Have you ever slept in a wind mill? Or in an igloo or a yurt?

Some types of dwellings are specific to only a small region on earth. When we were researching places to visit in Italy, I came across a photo that blew me away: unusually shaped houses with grey stone, domed roofs. They looked impressive and I studied the websites. But the small region where these traditional homes occurred was in south east Italy, and specifically the town of Alberobello, which was not on our itinerary.

Then an excited young woman, Italian but living in England, contacted me and eventually arranged for my book Stepping Stones to be published in Italian. And it would be launched in Bari while I was still in Italy! And Bari is very close to Alberobello! So….

IMG_5602We took the train east, 4 hours, from Naples. Then a bus, an hour, to Alberobello. The first thing we noticed is how clean other cities were after the garbage strewn streets of Naples. Shiny sidewalks, lovely green parks… And Alberobello exceeded all of my expectations. The historic centre of town has more than 1,000 trulli! Yes, it is a touristy place but the little house are truly historic (no pun intended). To the extent that no new trulli are allowed to be build.

IMG_5603Our ‘hotel room’ is a small trulli in one of the areas with just narrow walkways connecting the homes. Some are used as shops, others as pubs or restaurants. But all are restored, authentic dwellings. And some have not yet been restored. The ‘hotel’ has several trulli around town. For breakfast we walk to a lovely restaurant on the town square with an extensive breakfast bar. We can make tea and coffee in our little house. It has been beautifully restored and I’m impressed with the tasteful decorations: simple stone floors, a wooden ladder holds clothes hangers, a simple wooden table. It all suits the environment of original farm workers homes. 

IMG_5617Around the year 1,400 farm workers in this area needed homes. They simply used the lime stone available, stacking them to build small, rectangular huts with domed roofs. I find it amazing to see the rectangle turn into a round dome. The stones are simply piled on top of each other. Only later did they start using whitewash. While the name ‘trulli’ likely comes from the Greek, archeologists suspect that the origin shapes of the dwellings came from Mesopotamia. 

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Here are some good websites that tell you more about trulli:

Trulli: https://sites.google.com/site/trulliitaliano/unesco-world-heritage

Alberobello: http://www.costadeitrulli.org/en/region/alberobello-55/

Info on trulli: http://www.italia.it/en/discover-italy/apulia/poi/the-history-of-alberobellos-trulli.html

Unesco site: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/787/

Our hotel: https://www.trulliholiday.com/en/

Trullo symbols: https://trullocicerone.com/2017/06/19/trullo-symbols/

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Pompeii: City of the Dead

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The city of Pompeii

240 KM south of Rome is the city of Naples. As soon as we step off the train, we realize that this is a whole different world from northern Italy. Naples is chaos: an anthill of houses and streets and people. We’ve been warned about increased crime and plenty of pickpockets. Street vendors swarm everywhere. Garbage is overwhelming, as is dog poop and cigaret smoking….

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Eating on the street

We are happy to discover that the hotel we booked here, is a beautiful, modern apartment. On the outside, Palazzo Settembrini is a historic building in a narrow, busy street. Laundry decorates the opposite houses, there are little shops all around. But inside, the building has a modern lobby and an elevator. Our apartment has gorgeous stone flooring, a spacious living room with kitchen, a bathroom and large bedroom with crisp white linens. It is also very, very quiet if we keep the windows closed. It’s lovely to have this much space for the price of an ordinary hotel room. The lovely couple that run the place, point out the bakery, the supermarket and nearby restaurants. One night we eat around the corner, on the street. The local food is great and we feel very authentic, sitting under the city wall’s gate while mopeds zoom nonstop by our table…. Another night we try to find one of the classic pizza places. After all, pizza was ‘invented’ in Naples. But a large mob crowds outside, waiting to get in. So we sit down at a pizzeria across the road. How could pizza be any better?

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Pizza originated in Naples

Naples might have gorgeous cathedrals and other historic landmarks but after Lucca, Siena, Florence, Rome we’ve seen enough cities for a while. But Napoli is where pizza originated so we can’t wait to try authentic pizza here. Also, an Italian friend recommended porquetta – slow cooked, stuffed pork roast, thinly sliced. And it does taste beautiful. Italian coffee is served very strong in tiny cups. I have to laugh when we ask for a larger coffee and get the same tiny bit, just in a larger cup!

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Mount Vesuvius

To us, Naples is the jump off point to visit nearby Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. The trains throughout Italy are not bad. They are very reasonably priced and pretty much on schedule. The little train from Naples to Pompeii, however, is a different story. Be warned: reaching Pompeii or nearby Herculanum on your own is not for the faint of heart. We found the special platform at the very end of Napoli Centrale. It’s a small company that runs this train: Circumvesuviana. The signs on the platform did not work. There was no indication whatsoever which train would go to where, or from which platform. Through word of mouth we finally figured out where to wait. A train did not show up for an hour. Apparently they kept getting canceled. When a train finally came, you could not have fitted another body onto the platform. We all squeezed into the, already full, train to the point of suffocating. It was a half hour, with about 20 stops, to get to Pompeii. There are no announcements at all about your next stop. And to make it worse: all signs at stations’ platforms are completely covered in graffiti so that it is impossible to read the name of where you are. Not a pleasant journey! The up-side is that it only cost 2 euros.

IMG_5553Once in Pompeii, it is not clear that all the signs ‘tickets’ are not the official ticket sellers for the site. We were glad we had read lots of information beforehand and walked straight down until we reached the official entrance where we bought 15 euro tickets to enter Pompeii.

One of the best things we had discovered, during our research, is the free audio tours by Rick Steves. We listened to the entire soundtrack prior to going and then played it again, on our phone, while we walked through Pompeii. His information was perfect. It told us where to walk, when to turn off the track, etc. It saved us about 15 euros each for a rented audio tour. Rick Steves’ tours are available throughout Europe, for most cities and sites. The app is free and so are the downloads. Highly recommended!

Pompeii is fascinating and eery. An entire city of 20,000 people with streets and squares and intersections. In your mind’s eye you see the merchants, the women, the scholars. They walk along the sidewalks while chariots rush down the roads, their wheels leaving ruts over the ages. There are busy shops and food places, there’s a pub, a brothel.  A large home from a well-to-do merchant, a poet’s house.

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This was a food shop with bowls fitting into the rims.

The public bathhouse had ornately painted ceilings and heated floors. The city had a good water supply system with reservoirs and leaded pipes. They were so advanced! The ceilings had ruts to prevent dripping. 

These people had no idea at all that the mountain near their city was a volcano. They had no way of knowing because Vesuvius had not erupted for 1,200 years. Suddenly, in August of the year 79 it did blow. It completely took everyone by surprise.

IMG_5561The nearby resort town of Herculanum (Ercolano) was covered in lava.

Pompeii was smothered in ash and gasses. 2,000 people died. Both towns were effectively sealed and preserved, to be discovered by archaeologists 

more than a thousand years later… When they found human remains, they poured plaster in the cavities and made perfect moulds of the human bodies in the positions in which they died…. Eery but also fascinating.IMG_5547

https://www.palazzosettembrini49.it/en

https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/audio/audio-europe

http://www.oraricircumvesuviana.it/fermate

https://www.pompeionline.net/pompeii/

Rome wasn’t built in a day…

IMG_5439Rome wasn’t built in one day… and you can’t see it in one day either. We spent a day walking across the city to Borghese Gardens, a huge city park full of families, people strolling, ice cream vendors and crazy bikes. We rented a bike like contraption for two. It was heavy to pedal, then would suddenly speed up and was hard to brake. We almost wiped out but at least we didn’t run over too many pedestrians…. And we had a lovely picnic in the park. 

IMG_5434From there, we walked to the famous Spanish Steps. Lots of people sitting on the steps, rose vendors and a cascading fountain. In my mind’s eye I saw Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday. There are certainly enough scooters around, thousands of them. And tiny Fiats. And all sorts of other little cars. Bill Bryson in Neither Here Nor There gives the best description when he says “You come around any corner in Rome and it looks like you just missed a parking competition for blind people.” That’s exactly how it looks! Cars stick out, parked on crosswalks, cars with literally not one inch between bumpers. We are happy to use public transit here although traffic in Rome is not as bad as I had expected. It’s busy but at least cars stop when you start to cross the road. So far. Many side streets are solidly lined with scooters, almost as many as you see bicycles in Amsterdam. IMG_5485

There’s an astonishing amount of garbage on the streets. Cardboard, bags, bottles all piled up around lamp posts and overflowing garbage containers. Homeless people sleep in doorways steps away from streets lined with Gucci and Prada shops. Street vendors and operators of little shops and restaurants are mostly from Bangladesh. I was shocked to even see homeless people on the streets of Vatican City. IMG_5414

If Kees hadn’t stayed with Dutch people who run a B&B in Umbria, while hiking the Via Francigena, we would have never found out about a Dutch church in Vatican City! We couldn’t believe it. But it turns out that there were some historic connections here. Willibrord, a Dutch priest from the mid 600’s, who was exiled to Ireland, tried to convert the Frisian people from the Northern Netherlands to Christianity. Eventually he was made a Saint. Frisian Christians lived at the Vatican and built their church here, close to the burial place of Saint Peter.

IMG_5451When In Rome… do as the Romans do and so we decided to attend a church service, albeit in Dutch, a unique experience. After the service, we walked outside onto St. Peter Square and listened to Pope Francis deliver his regular Sunday message to the masses. 

When we took the Metro to Vatican City earlier that morning, the platform was absolutely packed. Rows and rows of people lined up. When the train arrived, it was already jam-packed but we all got pushed in until you could not have fit a sheet of paper between people. It was crazy. At Vatican City everyone got out and streamed upstairs to the streets. A huge line-up formed for those wanting to go inside St. Peter’s Basilica for Sunday morning mass. We went to the quiet Dutch church instead and enjoyed listening to a Dutch sermon and psalms. 

IMG_5468Once the Pope started his address, St. Peter Square was packed with a sea of people. I guessed there were thousands, but when I researched the capacity of the square, I found out that the church itself holds 60,000 people and the square can hold 300,000. It wasn’t filled to capacity but it was impressive none the less.

We walked back across one of the bridge over the River Tiber, to piazza Navona with its ornate fountains and palace. We followed narrow alleys, past the Pantheon, to the Trevi Fountain, our favourite although it was packed with people. Obviously everyone in Rome – locals and visitors alike – enjoyed the warm sunshine and strolled along the streets, sipping coffee and enjoying gelato. IMG_5531

The most bizarre experience came when we were practically back at our hotel near the train station. A little car stopped, the window lowered and the driver hollered at me, waving a map. I cautiously approached. A nice, older gentleman asked if we could tell him how to get to the train station. We told him and even gave him our map. Then he reached down and produced a gift. “Here,” he said, “for you because you helped me.” Turned out he was with Ferrari F1 racing team and this was the VIP gift bag for the Grand Prix with some very nice and valuable gifts, including a Max Verstappen watch worth over a thousand euros…. As our son said, “Most people get mugged, you guys get gifts on the streets of Rome.”

Frisian Church, Vatican: https://www.friezenkerk.nl

Rome Tourism: https://www.romeinformation.it/en/

Vatican City: https://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do

We stayed here: http://www.hotelenricaroma.com/?lang=it

We really enjoyed eating here: https://www.thefork.it/ristorante/la-grotta-romana/407303

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Rome-ing Around

IMG_5301All roads lead to Rome… and so does the Via Francigena. We traveled the last bit by train since we did not feel like hiking through suburbs and industrial areas.

We found a quaint ‘hotel’ – the large room is a bit bare, like a hostel but  with a private bathroom. It’s in a historic building that was likely an apartment building until it was converted to hotel rooms. There’s a lush green court yard, a wrought iron gate, even breakfast of coffee and a croissant. And we’re less than a 10 minute walk from Roma Termini, the main train station. Once we arrived by train, we simply walked here and settled in.
With an old fashioned paper map, we find our way around to all the main attractions of Rome. The very first thing we want to see is the Colosseum. It’s late afternoon and the sky is grey. But we walk for a few kilometers and suddenly, there it is – the famous curved walls on which the Vancouver Public Library is based. We walked all the way around it to see it from all angles as well as to the Roman Forum. We try to take the Metro back but the machines are out of change, or the printer doesn’t work, or it just doesn’t feel like helping the hordes of tourists lined up for tickets. In the end, we walk all the way back while the skies burst open. The first rain we’ve had on this trip.

We are constantly aware of pickpockets since we keep getting warned about them. On our one rainy night, we walked huddled under one umbrella, when suddenly I felt a hand in between us. I slapped the hand and a young man jumped away behind us. Somehow he tried to get into Kees’ pocket right in between us. To no avail but it brought home the message again. We leave all valuables in the hotel and carry only a bare minimum. 

IMG_5328The next day is blue sky again and this time the Metro ticket machines work fine. In fact, there was a country wide transportation strike announced. We were told it might be hard to take the Metro. But, instead, we find an almost deserted station and mostly empty trains that rush us to our destination: Vatican City.

There we follow the tall stone wall (boy, Romans liked to build walls in the olden days) and follow it until we find an opening: the entrance to the Vatican Museums. This time we have booked an online tour, directly with the Vatican City people which was much cheaper than via tour operators. We walk through the museum exhibits, which are mostly things collected by popes and the church. 

Through court yards, past statues and fountains, we go through the papal apartments. Impressive halls ornately painted. Michelangelo lived here while he worked on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Ultimately we make it to the Chapel. It’s very different in reality, at least from the way I pictured it. The Chapel itself is a rectangular stone building. From the outside, you’d never guess it was special. We approach via  endless corridors and rooms with paintings, carvings, collections and fabulous, gigantic tapestries from the Middle Ages woven in Belgium.

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The Sistine chapel is a colourful sequence of painted stories. I try to imagine Michelangelo working here on his scaffolding, day after day. He felt that he was a sculpture, not a painter and tried to decline the job. But the pope insisted in hiring him to paint this ceiling. I like how our guide explained how he learned about proportions as he went, changing figures that are too small, too detailed to larger figures in the next scene. It really looks like the very first graphic novel – the stories unfold in wordless pictures. What really floors me is that he put himself in the picture as an empty skin in The Last Judgement. Did he have a sense of humour or was he a morbid thinker?

After the Chapel we walk through the Papal Corridor where the cardinals walk as they go into conclave when a new pope is selected. We hear the story of the white and black smoke – traditionally produced with leaves but now with a moveable, mechanical chimney. Even the Vatican adapts to time.

IMG_5371The hallways eventually connect and we approach St. Peter’s Cathedral. Our guide explains how Peter was one of the first Christians, shortly after the life of Christ. He was killed on the spot which is now the center of the square where an obelisk marks the spot. Once Christianity caught on in Rome, an alter, and then a church was built on the site. St. Peter’s Cathedral is now the largest church in the world. And it is large! Its capacity is 60,000 people! The pillars inside are immense. The marble statues are amazing, especially The Pieta, carved in 1449 by Michelangelo of Florence. IMG_5378

After roaming through the church, we climb down and exit via the grotto where many popes have been buried over the ages. St. Peter’s Cathedral an impressive, special place to visit with an almost palpable history.IMG_5389

The Sights of Siena

IMG_5273After hiking nearly 100 KM on the Via Francigena, and when my toes turned to fall colours, I stayed in Siena while Kees continued hiking.

The historic center of Siena, or centro storico as it is called in Italian, is very walkable. I love roaming the narrow streets with its thick stone walls of houses that are hundreds of years old. Much of the ancient city wall remains in tact, with gateways into the city, like the glorious Porto Romano. Although in a few places the city fathers have, in their wisdom, decided to destroy the wall to make room for modern day traffic.

Busses run frequently and pretty much on schedule to and from the old center. For 1.50 you can travel quite far. At the Piazza Indipendenza you can simply phone a taxi and it shows up in minutes to take you to your destination. We bought sim cards from a company called Wind, to use our phones in Italy. Reasonable rates, unlimited texting and we can  even use it throughout Europe. It’s been a lifesaver to use the data with maps as we roam the city or countryside without wifi access. What did we do before cell phones and Ipads? Get lost, I guess…

IMG_5193Of course, Siena is famous for its Il Campo piazza. Its unique oval shape slopes down to the Palazza Pubblico. Its Torre del Mangia can be seen from across the countryside. I enjoyed walking around and across Il Campo, despite the many tourist contortionists trying to take selfies. Why would you want yourself obstructing the glorious medieval buildings in your photos? 

IMG_5192The most fascinating story about Il Campo is that this is the site of a bizarre, annual horse race. It’s a historic event (of course) in which all neighborhoods of the city wholeheartedly participate. All year, events lead up to this 90 second race. Watch the Rick Steeves’ video below for a good synopsis. When you walk around the empty square, it’s hard to imagine 50,000 people cramped into the center while horses race around the outside.

When I got hungry, I simply picked one of the many wrought iron tables and chairs outside shops. I had pasta quattro formaggi, 4 cheese pasta, for 4.50 euros.

My favourite discovery in Siena was the Fortezza Medicea, an ancient fortress now a jazz school and event center. Perched on top of the ancient wall was an entire elementary school. No road, just a school with a fenced play yard. The walls of the fortress were a great (free) place to stroll and offered a tremendous view of the old city, the towers and, of course, Il Duomo. IMG_5189

The Piazza Duomo is perhaps the most recognized landmark of the city. Every bit as glorious as the cathedral in Florence, this one is perhaps even more decorative. In fact, when I went inside I thought “this is not a church, it’s a piece of jewelry.” Seldom have I seen such an ornate building. Every wall, every corner, every pillar, every piece inside it, is a work of art. Donatell, Leonardo, Bernini – they all worked here and their masterpieces still show off their talents.

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Sculptures, wood carvings, marble statues, paintings, wall hangings…. It is overwhelming. For a mere 8 euros you can wander on your own and gaze at all the medieval fanciness around you, as long as you like. IMG_5231

When you are outside, you notice a gigantic rough brick wall. Just a wall by itself. It impressive to know that the cathedral was supposed to be that much bigger. But then the plague hit the city and the expansion never happened. 

Inside the cathedral, the floors are perhaps the most mind blowing feature. I took photos but the best ones are on the Opera Duomo website where you have a view from the top. The floors should really be hanging on the walls – they are intricate, inlaid marble mosaics depicting biblical scenes. IMG_5238

Suddenly, to the left, is a small room. It is the Piccolomini Library (I love that name because ‘picollo’ means ‘little’ in Italian so ‘piccolomini’ must be really small! It was a family name). Its walls intricately painted, this has been called the world’s most beautiful library. It was built, some 500 years ago, for a pope and to house his collection of manuscripts. Most of the works on display are music scores, painted in gild and curls.IMG_5255

Outside, blinking in the bright sunlight, you can have an espresso and wander down to the Piazza Mercado, once a lovely, covered market place but now simply a parking lot. But one wall has a brilliant cascade of purple bougainvillea, worth the walk there.

Before I sauntered back down the 2 KM to my AirBnB cottage, I bought furlined socks. It’s nippy in Siena in October!

Siena: http://www.terresiena.it/en/info/tourist-information-offices

Wind SIM card: https://www.wind.it/privati/

Horse Race: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_clMjoa9d1s

Il Duomo: https://www.discovertuscany.com/siena/what-to-do/porta-del-cielo-tour.html

Il Duomo: https://operaduomo.siena.it/en/

Via Francigena, Hiking a Pilgrim’s Route

IMG_0156Twenty years ago after hiking the Camino de Santiago for the first time I’m still at it. This time I found the Via Francigena in Italy. It’s another 1100 year old pilgrim’s trail that takes you from Canterbury, England all the way to Rome: 2,000 km. 

IMG_0151After a lot of research I decided to hike the section between Lucca and Viterbo, a 375 km stretch of the trail taking you through much of Tuscany and a small section of Umbria. According to reports on the app of the Via Francigena (VF) it is probably the most scenic of the entire trail. France apparently offers hikers many problems, Switzerland is beautiful but being so mountainous that’s obvious very hard, northern Italy is nice but somewhat boring, so the Tuscan section is supposedly the nicest. 

And, yes, I can vouch for it to be a fantastic experience. The trail is mostly off pavement although there are some sections along highways that are dangerous, but by and large it is through the countryside. Lots of hills (up to 800 meter high) with absolutely outstanding views. 

The trail markings (small red and white signs, brown traffic signs with a pilgrim, or old stones with VF painted on them) are good. Not as good as on the Camino de Santiago, but I needed my VF app only occasionally to verify that I was heading in the right direction. The best time of year for this section of the VF is April and May or September to mid October. The summers in this part of Italy are simply too hot for much hiking.

IMG_5158There are lots of accommodation choices along the way, from a 15 euro a night hostel to 100 euro plus for a 4 star hotel. We started in Lucca, one of the nicest old cities in Italy, and in a week hiked to Siena, another beautiful, historic city. 

After a day of rest I continued for another week to Viterbo, another 250 km closer to Rome. I decided to stop there because the last few day sections into Rome lead you through the outskirts and Rome’s industrial areas. All together an unforgettable hike through some of the nicest landscapes Europe has to offer.

Radicofani is by far the nicest old village I came across. It has few if any tourists, no hotels, just a hostel and it is the cutest little village I have seen. No new construction, narrow streets, steep as can be and very few facilities. Truly a place to be seen. 

IMG_0158The trail varies greatly, most of the time it is on gravel roads or pathways. About 25% is on pavement and 5% of that is along dangerous busy highways where you really have to watch the oncoming traffic. Italian drivers are all on a phone and since they speak with their hands they don’t have any available for steering. 

Just outside Vibrato I hiked on the actual, original Roman road. A Roman road was 14′ wide to allow two chariots to pass each other!

No more chariots flying by, but do be aware of dogs. Yesterday I had to be rescued by a passing motor cyclist who positioned his big bike between me and two vicious sheep dogs. I almost had to mace the dogs, and was shaken up pretty good. Usually my hiking poles are enough to keep smaller yipping dogs at bay, but not the big ones. 

The season really seems to end by mid October, during the last 3 days of hiking on this pilgrim’s trail I saw one other hiker. Often I walk through areas totally devoid of people or buildings. It can be lonely, but that is part of the charm. 

Weekends are hunting days. You hear gun shots far and near throughout the day, no wonder I have seen only one very scared little deer throughout the 300+ km I walked so far.

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Make sure you bring lunch or at least a solid snack because there are stretches where there is absolutely nothing to be had. When you go shopping in Italy – for clothes or just for milk and margarine – you need to remember what time it is. Stores open early but, like in Spain, close again for a long siesta. By 1 PM most shops are firmly closed, to open again around 4 PM. They’ll stay open til 9, 10 even 11 PM. So you can go stock up on veggies at 10 PM but not at 1:30. You just need to get used to it. For budget conscious pilgrims, hostels are cheap: 15 to 20 euros. Twice I was all alone in the entire building because the season was basically over. However, there is also no heat in many hostels so I did sleep with socks on a few nights. Meals are inexpensive compared to Canada and groceries are also cheaper.
It’s amazing how quickly a hiker’s day fills up. We get up around 7:30, dress, pack our packs, go for breakfast and then walk out the door. By 10 AM we’re ready for coffee, if we can find any.

By 1 PM we’ll have lunch, either in a ditch or on a patio if one is nearby. We arrive at the next hostel or whatever place we’ve booked for the night, around 2 or 3 PM. Then we fall on the bed, exhausted. After a while we’ll get up, shower, change, do our laundry in the sink hoping everything will be dry the next morning.
I might have a nap, read or write. Then we’ll go in search of a beer and a glass of wine. Most restaurants don’t open til 7 PM so we need to be patient, even if we’re hungry. After dinner we plan the next day’s hike, charge all batteries (including our own), read and fall asleep shortly after 9. 

Rome’s Most Creepy Crypt

Rome, ItalyWe have all heard of Rome’s main attractions: the Sistine Chapel, the Spanish Steps, St. Peter’s Cathedral. But have you ever heard of the Museum and Crypt of the Capuchin Friers? 

This is a fascinating, if somewhat creepy, chapel underneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Capucchini. For 8.50 euros you can take a tour.

Here, for several hundred years, the Franciscan friars, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the bones of their dead colleagues would make a great reminder of our mortality. And so, with likely nothing better to do, they started to use their bones to decorate. Yes, to decorate. Over the years, they used some 4,000 dead bodies. That’s a lot of bones: shin bones, finger bones, everything…

They even gave names to the different rooms they decorated and in which they displayed their morbid exhibits: the crypt of skulls, the crypt of legbones, and (my favorite) the crypt of pelvises. The displays in each room are… well, bare bones.

The dimly lit rooms have chandeliers made from human bones. Mummified arms hold the Coat of Arms (no pun intended). Apparently by the early 1900’s they were told to stop their lurid practise.

capuchin-bone-monk-cryptThe crypt’s website warns ‘don’t go if you’re queasy about such things as furniture made of human bones’. It also states that after the tour of the crypt, you will enter the Gift Shop. I’m afraid to ask what’s for sale there…

These Capuchin friars are the same guys for which your favourite drink is named: reminiscent of their brown habit with pointed hood, or cappa, the word ‘cappuccino’ allegedly alludes to the colour and ‘peaked finish’ of coffee. So, as you sip your next cappuccino at Starbuck, you may contemplate these cheerful guys’ motto, as displayed on a plague on the wall in this creepy crypt: “What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be.” 

(And just in case you wonder, no I have not actually visited even though it is almost Halloween.)

https://archaeology-travel.com/italy/capuchin-crypt-rome/