10 October 2011

Teachers know best...

It's finally Autumn here in Roma. The leaves are changing and falling and crunching and the air has taken on that golden glow. There's a breeze that can only be described as crisp and everyone is sneezing. Yes, Fall is finally here.

It's a wonderful break from the heat - just a week ago if you were to spend all day walking around Roma you'd end your day gross - drenched in sweat  and smelly. With the season change though you can now wander around all day and still be fit for polite society in the evening.

I missed an on-site class a few weeks ago (I got lost) and needed to go to all the places. The location was the Aventine Hill. This now elegant residential neighborhood was orginally the southernmost of the Seven Hills of Roma. It is home to several beautiful churchs (which you cannot take pictures in): Santa Sabina, San Alessio, and San Anselmo.

My intinerary included the churches but also several other hidden treasures. The first was Il Giardino degli Aranci, the Garden of Oranges. Saint Dominic is credited with the planting of the first orange tree and it is said that Saint Catherine of Sienna made candied oranges for the pope using fruit from the garden. The garden sits just next to Santa Sabina which provides a lovely backdrop for the trees (which currently had no ripe fruit). The piece de resistance is the view though. From the ovverlook you can see all of Trastevere, San Pietro, and all the way over to Il Vittorio. It is one of the most serene places I have been yet.

Next came San Alessio which was actually closed for siesta. Siesta is the time in the middle of the day, usually from about 1:00 or 1:30 to 3:30 or 4:00PM when businesses close for lunch and such. This was the first time I'd found a church closed though.

Moving down the street I came to La Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. the Knights of Malta have a supposedly beautiful garden here - but it requires an appointment to view. What you can see though, is St. Peter's - through a keyhole. My jaw dropped when I bent down to look through the keyhole of door number three. St. Peter's is perfectly framed by an avenue of bushes that arch together. Bellisima.

Finally I came to San Anselmo, a  relatively plain and beautiful church that is also home to a Benedictine Friary. This is quite possibly my current favorite church in Rome. It is more plain than most yet it boasts two exquisite mosaics, as well as a mosiac floor. The walls are white stucco but my favorite part was the ceiling. No frescoes, no carvings - just simply the most beautiful dark wood.

On-site classes have so far provided the some of the most rewarding directed wandering in Roma. Aventine Hill is by far one of my favorite places. And I doubt I would have discovered it without the help of my professor.

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