Thursday, March 08, 2007

Do you know what's under YOUR church?

I can tell you, after yesterday morning, I now know what's under MINE, and it's pretty incredible.

Let me back up for a moment. As you know and are probably tired of hearing by now, wedding bells are ringing. Actually, not just ringing. Clanging. Loudly. Please! Make it stop!

But I digress. Ale and I had one last step to do in our long, bureaucratic walk towards the altar (we are in Italy, remember) which involved going back to our neighborhood church (for the 3rd time) and getting the final OK from the priest that we could take all the paperwork to the Vatican's wedding office and get the all-important final stamp. While we were waiting, we saw a couple of tourists being let into a door very inconspicuously marked "Visita, €2." Visita to what? What was down there?

We asked the custodian, thinking it might be part of the ancient Roman firefighter's headquarters that was discovered across the street. He said, "Yeah, I think it's ancient Roman stuff. I'm really not that informed." Um, ok, well, we'll check it out for ourselves. After we managed to come up with €4 in coins, he let us in and we were free to roam.

Just goes to show that you should never miss any opportunity to explore something hidden here in Rome. Look what we found:

First thing you see when you come down the stairs is an ancient Roman tomb, preserved as if it were made yesterday. No "do not touch" signs and no one even around to monitor you. It's as if it were left here to be thrown out. It's just that the garbage man hasn't been by for like TWO THOUSAND years or so. And by the way, we're thinking this probably was where the ancient Roman firefighters lived.

More recently, oh, let's say in about the year 400, 500 A.D. or thereabouts, there was a church at this level. So you see some religious frescoes as well.

Then I spotted another tomb, and I said to Ale, "Hey look...another one. So, I wonder what happened to what was inside? Heh, heh," and I got closer, looking inside... and I found...

Um, HELLO! Is THAT creepy enough for you?

Yes, people, they are BONES. BONES, I tell you!

All that for the low, low price of just €2. I'm not complaining.

Chiesa San Crisogono
Look for the church custodian...he's usually around, maybe sitting over towards the left side of the church by the altar.
Viale Trastevere 47


Cynthia Rae said...

That is soooo cool! I love exploring underground Rome!

Just wanted to stop by and wish you a happy day of the woman!


TinkerBlue said...

When I read the title my first thought was "dead bodies". I thought I was kidding.

Ambra Celeste said...

Oh my gosh Shelley! That is so creepy and incredible! I am so happy you had your camera with you because seeing is believing.

abe-hap said...

Beautiful, intriguing & just plain creepy!!

Johnaesthetica said...

Oh my!

Ok, Shelley. How is it that you always manage to stumble onto these amazing post ideas! Haha.

Clearly Rome is a better muse than Columbus.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

wow. molto creepy.

Have you been to the lowest level of San Clemente? It freaks me out. I still haven't been able to brave the church lined with the all the dead monks.

FinnyKnits said...

OMG. That is scary. And to think, you could have just walked off with a handful of bones and no one would have said a word. Hello! Wedding favors!

Ok, you know I'm kidding.

You should start a label for "Creepy shit to see in Rome"

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Cyn: Grazie, bella! Hope you are spending some time with some other belle donne to celebrate.

Tinker: I know! Isn't it nuts?

Ambra: It's so funny because I almost took my camera out of my purse before we went, but now I'm kind of just leaving it in there always because I realize here in Rome, you really truly never know.

Abe-Hap: Great to see you! How is the fair isle coming? I'll have to stop by soon...

Johnaesthetica, can I call you Johna? :-) Yes, Rome is a field day for a blogger, that's for sure. But I'm sure Columbus has some tricks up its sleeve too...

NYC: No, I've never been down there... thanks for the tip! But you HAVE to brave the bone crypt. It is worth a visit for the creepy factor.

Fin: LOL. Wedding favors? Yeah, I'm sure the Itals would LOVE that one, esp. considering they get into arguments about the number of sugared almonds to give out to each guest. Good one!! ;-)

JennDZ said...

Wow, that is so exciting to just be that close to things that are so old! Just running into them while out on errands! Fabulous!

The closest Roberto is from his hometown is watching the TV show Rome, which we do religiously!

Have fun!

Flambeaux said...

Both the excavation under Basilica San Clemente and the Scavi under San Pietro are magnificent, even if you have no interest in the early Church.

I've been through the Scavi twice, and into San Clemente once. I don't think San Clemente has tour guides, but I had one when I went through, a priest (now monsignor) of my acquaintance. One of his seminary profs had led the recent excavations, so he knew his stuff.

Most impressive.

David Ourisman said...

Thanks for sharing this real "find" with us! As others have said, some of the best stuff in Rome is underground (especially in the summer when it's so HOT and sticky above ground). This will go on my list of things to recommend and see.

Stelle In Italia said...

ooh, i wanna go too! 2 euros is all? last time i was in rome, we visited the church of San Clemente...this one reminds me of that.