From cat’s cradle to grave

Written by Linton Hutchinson

Ever wonder what it would be like to spend the day in a crypt? Or chase homeless kittens around an architectural ruins over 2500 years old? Well, if you’re game for either of these activities, consider making Rome your next holiday get away.

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It started out as your typical day in the once capital city of the world. Pushing past the remnants left by millions of inhabitants that haven’t yet given up their evil ways of littering, we made it down into the bowels of the city. Three stories below ground level the thunderous sound of our first subway came to a screeching halt. We push ourselves into the crowded train feeling like sardines in a can as we begin our journey to our first destination, the Capuchin Crypt.

Even in the depths of Rome, a young Asian women gives up her precious seat for Beck to sit as the rest of our troupe are rocked to and fro, like corks on a raging sea. After extracting ourself from our entombment below the capital we start our ascent into the light. Not to be left off without extracting a price, the escalator grinds to a halt stranding us below the earth. We hike always striving upward like divers seeing air until we emerged breathless into the warm glow of the summers heat.

To the right another changes quickly emerges. Steps to climb before we can enter the Crypt. The lure of hundreds of monks remains over the centuries quickly overpowers our reluctance to travels this newest challenge. We begin the climb but not without first negotiating the challenges of strategically placed beggars on the steps of this religious shrine.

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After fees extracted by the Holy Sisters of Grace we are given permission for passage in the catacombs. Again, we descend into the cool, damp earth under Rome. Step by step we become closer to our goal of communing with the remains of Saints from centuries past. Wes takes the lead as he has his own special agenda. After a few more steps and a quick turn to right, we are in view the first chamber of the saints.

Though it is dark, we can make out forms but they are so bizarre we can’t make out what we are seeing. Is it the skeleton of a baby bat? Are those wax figures of monks? What are the chandeliers made of? None of our normal perceptions are of any help in figuring out what is there.

After some orientation, we start to made sense of what we are seeing. These are the remains of hundreds of monks, their bones sculpted into intricate designs, their bones being used as chandeliers. Skulls making columns holding up the roof above us. It’s hard to believe, but believe we must.

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Wes holds his camera close to his chest. We hear a faint click. And a guard appears from now where. You might have already imagined what happened next. But you’d be wrong. Wes out-thinks this Roman inquisitor. Removing his folded hands, there is nothing to see. The guard must move on, stymied by this clever American tourist. Wes gives him a wink and a smile and we’re out of the crypt.

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Now recalled by Sterling:

We then headed over to the gardens of Villa Medici and Borghesi via the Spanish steps. The men peddling roses were still at it. We made out way to the gardens and the views were fantastic.

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But somehow Wes and I ended up in the front end of a four person bicycle pedaling around some freeloaders (my parents). I hope they enjoyed the ride.

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After a short lunch at our favorite Italian restaurant Wes and I convinced Linton to take a short walk over to the Vatican. Afterall, it is the smallest country. Two feet past the boundary we turn back, desperately searching for a taxi and some cold water. Summer is certainly here.

Linton headed back to the hotel while Beck, Wes, and I explored the cat sanctuary where Julius Caesar was assassinated and then made our way over to the gelato restaurant.

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Wes still remembered the exact route necessary to optimally arrive at the gelato place (via some alleys and side roads that nobody knows about). Despite getting there in record time, it was already a mad house – and after fifteen minutes we emerged from the store, drenched in the sweat of other tourists… but at least we had gelato.

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Click here for all of our pictures.

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