Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Roman Holiday Part 8 - The Secret Treasures of Aventine Hill

Previously: I got some bad directions on my quest to find the Mouth of Truth, and wound up heading to Aventine Hill. Aventine Hill is truly a beautiful area of Rome, sprinkled with lovely residences and churches of all shapes and sizes. It’s so beautiful that as I wandered around there I fantasized about living there, getting some job where I could work from home, and order my groceries from the Italian version of Fresh Direct, and eventually meet a nice woman online and show her pictures of my house and she would come stay with me and then we’d get married on the premises and then when the time came for it, we’d home school my children so I never had to leave. It’s that nice there.

As I wandered around the Hill, I never gave up hope that I’d eventually stumble upon the Mouth of Truth. That of course didn’t happen, but what did happen was that I saw several churches with lush amazing courtyards and obscene views of the city down below. A really impressive one was Santa Sabina. The courtyard was filled with people right at dusk, and so many of these people were just sitting around making out! It’s a very romantic atmosphere, but come on, people! We’re on church property!

When I made it as far as I could up the hill I got to this area that was closed off by high walls and there was a sign indicating the property belonged to the University Of Rome. There were vines growing all along the top of the wall that stretched back almost giving an appearance of a roof on what otherwise looked like an open garden space beyond the wall. The wall was otherwise non-descript until you came to a place where there were two giant green doors and several military men carrying automatic rifles. Automatic rifles?!! What the hell is going on? Why is the military guarding this area? I became very nervous that perhaps I didn’t quite understand where I was. Was I trespassing on the hill? If I made a wrong move were the guards gonna gun me down, no questions asked (none in English anyway)?

There was a short line of people standing in front of the green doors. They looked like tourists to me. I can spot my own kind. There was a small circular hole in one of the doors right above the handle. The people in the line walk up to the door one by one and take a peek into what’s going on through the hole. This is met with a lot of oohing and ahhing afterwards. The military guys are not shooting any of these people, so I reason it’s okay if I get on line as well.

When it’s my turn to go, I put my eye up to the hole in the door and I gasp because it’s like Fucking Narnia on the other side. I mean, not literally. It’s not like Mr. Tumnus was inside prancing about, but there are row and rows of shrubs that create this archway leading out on the horizon, and there miles away but framed perfectly within the archway stands the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, blazing in the light of the setting sun. It was an amazing telescopic effect and it was so unexpected and quite breathtaking. Right at that moment I was so happy the concierge at the hotel gave me such horrible directions to the Mouth of Truth. Otherwise I never would’ve found this hidden treasure. I’m so thankful to have seen this, while I was in Rome.

After that, I looked at one more beautiful church and then started back down the hill. My search for the Mouth of Truth had not been successfully completed, but I was out of daylight. I vowed to locate it online when I got back to the hotel and seek it out in the morning before I left for the airport.

I walked back to my hotel and took a small nap before heading out again for dinner. I also watched this travel show on BBC International that explained to me the benefits of visiting Germany when it’s not Oktoberfest. Then finally: dinnertime!

Note: Somehow I took no pictures of this part of my Aventine Hill journey. I know why. I was running low on shots in the disposable and the light was fading. I had gotten several skyline shots of Rome from Vittoriano earlier in the day and wasn't really that stoked for more. But I did take this one picture between Vittoriano and my hotel that's worth mentioning. There was this Native American band playing on the street, possibly selling a CD. They were SO LOUD. I could hear them all the way past the Colosseo. They were the last thing I expected to see on this side of the Atlantic. It gave me a good chuckle.

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