Today, we walked …. and we walked …. and we walked. We fully tested William Bingley’s claim that “Pedestrianism is the most useful mode of travel, if health and strength are not wanting.” We’ll see what our health and strength have to say tomorrow about the 7+ miles accomplished today — there just might be some creaks and groans, even if it was a grand way to experience the parts of Rome we visited,
which began with the St. Callixtus Catacombs. We were moved and informed in seeing and even touching the tombs where some half a million Christians were buried over the centuries. Our Australian guide, a monk of the Salesian order, led us through many twists and turns, lightening the mood with his dry wit. (Since photos are not allowed underground, a stock picture will have to do.)
Riding our bus from the catacombs to the ancient city center, we stopped at Ara Pacis (Altar of Augustan Peace), a monument commissioned by the Roman Senate in 13 BC to honor the return of Augustus to Rome after three years in Spain and France. Although the entire thing smacks of rather arrogant self-promotion on Augustus’ part, the altar is an artistic treasure.
Monique led us on a walking tour to highlight the Spanish steps, the Pantheon, the Piazza Navona, and Trevi Fountain. Causing comment in our group was the immensity and grandeur of these sights as we tried to imagine the labor, funds and time needed to build such works of art.
More pedestrianism took us through a high-end shopping district (We settled for window-shopping. 🙂 ) on our way back to the hotel where Jeff’s presentation on Paul as a master letter-writer informed and challenged us. Dinner and more stimulating conversation closed the evening. We look forward to visiting the Coliseum, the Forum and other Roman ruins tomorrow … more pedestrianism, yes, but less than today — maybe?