21st June 2012
Today was a nothing day really – pretending to be locals, sitting around drinking coffee and eating took up a big chunk of time, but I really did need a day off. It was great to catch up with my mates and we weren’t completely lazy, we meandered from my patch of turf to the more luxurious shopping areas around the Spanish Steps. Via Condotti was just for window shopping, although interesting to see the big name brands there wasn’t anything I lusted after. Some of the streets around and off via del Corso were little havens of quiet and shade which was a nice change from the hustle and bustle. I saw plenty of unique and interesting pieces there but kept thinking of the ten or so kilos of presents I already have to post tomorrow so “just looking” was the motto for the day!
There is a lovely little church just across the road from my hotel that I’ve been meaning to write about so as I’m having a slow news day here we go. It’s called, wait for it because it is a mouthful – Basilica of Sts. Vitalis, Valeris, Gervase and Protase or more commonly Basilica di San Vitale. I have intentionally not visited the Vatican this trip and when I found this little gem I knew I wouldn’t regret that decision. It’s a peaceful little oasis in the middle of Rome, I’d much rather sit and contemplate life for a while here than fight the crowds at the Vatican this time round. Probably next visit I’ll go there and wonder why I didn’t go earlier.
The little church is about 20 or 30 steps below the current street level with awesome intricately carved wooden doors and has wonderful paintings on the walls and ceiling. Some of the wall frescos seem almost like trompe l’oeil in places. It’s hard to believe it was built in 400 AD – although it’s been restored a number of times, there’s still a whole lot of antiquity in this building. Coincidence is a strange thing isn’t it? This little place was extensively rebuilt in 1475 under the direction of Pope Sixtus IV, the same pope who donated the statues that began the foundation of the Musei Capitolini - a fact I had no idea about until yesterday.
What started out as a relaxing day actually became quite tiring in the end as we sat and talked and laughed for hours after dinner, not that I’m complaining, it’s just what I needed after my little teary last night. So once again it’s off to bed tired but so thankful to be here and happy to have spent the day with friends