17OCT 2016 (Monday). ROME. (Day 15)
This morning here in Rome, a wake up call was made by Hotel Diana. And breakfast was served at 7AM. Then at 8:15AM we departed for a full day sightseeing tour here in Rome, Italy.
Rome (Italian: Roma, Latin: Rōma) is the capital of Italy and a special commune, named Comune di Roma Capitale. Commune is headed by a mayor (sindaco) assisted by a legislative body, the consiglio comunale (communal council), and an executive body, the giunta comunale (communal committee). The mayor and members of the consiglio comunale are elected together by resident citizens. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. Lazio is one of the 20 administrative regions of Italy. Situated in the central peninsular section of the country, it has almost 5.9 million inhabitants, making it the second most populated region of Italy after Lombardy and just a little ahead of Campania (1014).
According to the founding myth of the city by the Ancient Romans themselves, the long-held tradition of the origin of the name “Roma” is believed to have come from the city’s founder and first king, Romulus According to the founding myth of the city by the Ancient Romans themselves, the long-held tradition of the origin of the name “Roma” is believed to have come from the city’s founder and first king, Romulus.
However, it is a possibility that the name Romulus was actually derived from Rome itself. As early as the 4th century, there have been alternate theories proposed on the origin of the name Roma. Several hypotheses have been advanced focusing on its uncertain linguistic roots: First, from Rumon or Rumen, archaic name of the Tiber, which in turn has the same root as the Greek verb rhèo and the Latin verb ruo, which both mean “flow.” Second, from the Etruscan word ruma, whose root is rum– “teat,” with possible reference either to the totem wolf that adopted and suckled the cognately named twins Romulus and Remus, or to the shape of the Palatine and Aventine Hills. And third, from the Greek word rhōmē, which means strength.
With 2,877,215 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), Rome is also the country’s most populated comune. It is the fourth-most populous city (2016) in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the center of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4.3 million residents (2014). Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states. Rome has the status of a global city. Rome ranked in 2016 as the 13th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy.
From Hotel Diana, we went straight to Vatican Museum; we fall in line and entered the Museum together and with our tour guide, Rodolfo who explained to us many important features inside the Museum.
The Vatican Museums (Italian: Musei Vaticani) are Christian and art museums located within the city boundaries of the Vatican City. They display works from the immense collection built up by the Popes throughout the centuries including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world. The museums contain roughly 70,000 works, of which 20,000 are on display (2016), and currently employ 640 people who work in 40 different administrative, scholarly, and restoration departments (2016).
Pope Julius II founded the museums in the early 16th century. The Sistine Chapel, with its ceiling decorated by Michelangelo and the Stanze di Raffaello decorated by Raphael, are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums. In 2013, they were visited by 6 million people, which combined makes it the 6th most visited art museum in the world.
There are 54 galleries, or sale, in total, with the Sistine Chapel, notably, being the very last sala within the Museum. It is one of the largest museums in the world.
After our tour-visitation at the Vatican Museums, we went to St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Peter’s Basilica (Latin: Basilica Sancti Petri), is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome. The basilica was designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. According to Banister Fletcher (1996), it is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world. While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world,” James Lees-Milne (1967) described and as “the greatest of all churches of Christendom.”
Catholic tradition holds that the Basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, one of Christ’s Apostles and also the first Pope of the Catholic Church. Saint Peter’s tomb is supposedly directly below the high altar of the Basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St. Peter’s since the Early Christian period, and there has been a church on this site since the time of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the present basilica, which would replace Old St. Peter’s Basilica from the 4th century AD, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626 (Baumgarten, 1913).
St. Peter’s Basilica is famous as a place of pilgrimage and for its liturgical functions. The Pope presides at a number of liturgies throughout the year, drawing audiences of 15,000 to over 80,000 people, either within the Basilica or the adjoining St. Peter’s Square. It has many historical associations, with the Early Christian Church, the Papacy, the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-reformation and numerous artists, especially Michelangelo. As a work of architecture, it is regarded as the greatest building of its age (Fletcher, 1975). St. Peter’s is one of the four churches in the world that hold the rank of Major Basilica (the other 3: 1) Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, 2) Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, and 3) Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore), all four of which are in Rome. Contrary to popular misconception, it is not a cathedral because it is not the seat of a bishop; the Cathedra of the Pope as Bishop of Rome is in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.
The basilica is cruciform in shape, with an elongated nave in the Latin cross form but the early designs were for a centrally planned structure and this is still in evidence in the architecture. The central space is dominated both externally and internally by one of the largest domes in the world. The entrance is through a narthex, or entrance hall, which stretches across the building. One of the decorated bronze doors leading from the narthex is the Holy Door, only opened during jubilees (Pio V. Pinto, pp. 48–59).
After we visited St. Peter’s Basilica and wonderfully appreciated its immense beauty, we went out from it at 11AM for our Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls. But the Mass was postponed because some of my co-pilgrims were lost. Our Philippine tour guide went back in order to find them but they were nowhere to be found. And so, we went back to where we were dropped by the tour bus driver and there only our Philippine tour guide was present, waiting for us. Those who were lost, except for some who return to our fold, could not be located. We thought that since we could not find them, they return to the hotel, as advised by our tour guide if we are lost.
After which, we proceeded to Spanish steps a known square (or plaza) in Rome and some known shopping stores below it at other side of the road. The Spanish Steps (Italian: Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti) are a set of steps in Rome, Italy, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top.
The monumental stairway of 135 steps (the slightly elevated drainage system is often mistaken for the first step) was built with French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed funds of 20,000 scudi, in 1723–1725, linking the Bourbon Spanish Embassy, and the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the Bourbon kings of France, both located above, to the Holy See in Palazzo Monaldeschi located below. The stairway was designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi.
We have had our picture taking in Spanish steps at around 12:30PM.
While on our way to the Spanish steps, one of those who were lost called up our Philippine tour guide through facebook. At last there was a communication already.
We have had our lunch in the Spanish steps area. In one of the restorantes there; had shopping, and then went back to the Spanish steps at 4:30PM.
There are a few main streets for shopping near Spanish Steps, where the high-end brands are concentrated, but each has its own character. Let’s start with the most posh street of them all, via Condotti. Via Condotti is the street that continues from the bottom of the Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti, or Spanish Steps. If you stand in the middle of via Condotti, you will have the Spanish Steps and the church at the top right in your centre view.
Via Condotti may be compared to the most elegant shopping streets in other big cities, such as the Champs-Elysée in Paris, Bond Street in London or Fifth Avenue in New York. It is the most prestigious shopping street in Rome. This is where the top brands, called griffes in Italian lingo, may be found: Hermès, Bulgari, Gucci, Prada, La Perla, Jimmy Choo and many more.
The two streets on either side of via Condotti, via Borgognona to the left if you are standing in the Piazza di Spagna, and via delle Carrozze to the right, are also full of very high-end brands, and often those brands better known in Italy than out, such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Bruno Cucinelli, Emilio Pucci, Roberto Cavalli, Malo, and more.
Ah, one of my fave streets for shopping near Spanish Steps is Via Frattina. Via Frattina is to the left of via Borgognona if you are standing in Piazza di Spagna. This is a wonderful street for the mix of shops on it. There are many more streets where you can shop.
At 4:30PM we were already at the Spanish steps for a 30-minute walk back to where the tour bus would pick us up. We waited the bus for 10 minutes and then left the place at around 5:15PM. We arrived in Hotel Diana at around 5:30PM.
At 5:45PM, some of my co-pilgrims decided to have some hot soup at a Chinese restaurant. Fr. Ramil Nerio and Fr. Ervin, his companion in Collegio Filippino went there also and joined us and during dinner in the hotel. And then had our Mass at one of the halls of the hotel ground floor and was presided by me and sponsored by Group III.
After the Mass we roamed around the City of Rome near the hotel, bought some beer, etc., then went back to the hotel and that’s it for the day.
For more pictures, please see this link: My facebook