Raining when we started out, but not too bad. Went to Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Mass being said by a priest assisted by another priest or monk in a closed chapel, another Mass being said in a large chapel that was quite beautiful. Downstairs a small chapel with a larger than life statue of a kneeling pope. The mosaics we had come to see were in the dome and on the facings of the nave arches but even with lighting up, couldn’t see them very well.
Continuing our mosaics quest, went on to Santa Prassede. It knocked my socks off—the mosaics were stunning. Other visitors had put in money to light up the mosaics around the altar and in a small chapel. Chapel was another instance of being gobsmacked—because it was small, the mosaics were easily seen. So incredible that I looked at the other visitors and said thank you, whoever lit this. Something nice about being with people all appreciating beauty and craftsmanship.
These mosaics were interesting in that they were much more textured than the Roman mosaics—not flat stones set to form a flat surface but more pebbly—and colors like you’ve never seen. We took our turn at spending euros for lights and lit up the altar area again. Bought three postcards for .90 euros total, which was amazing—postcards usually 1 euro apiece.
Headed to San Pietro in Vincoli to see the Michelangelo Moses. Had to climb long, steep flight of stairs—”it wouldn’t be Rome without stairs.” Church was closed, so down another flight of stairs to a main street, which we crossed to a smaller parallel street. So cool—mostly pedestrian—not noisy—no rushing—lots of small businesses.
Went between Colesseum and Roman Forum on our way northwest. Wandered down small streets—beautiful clothes, especially coats and boots. After a disappointing lunch, headed towards the river and Trastevere. As we reached the Ponte Sisto, sun came out and lit up the rain-wet cobblestones and the Ponte Sisto. On the bridge, turned around and the street and buildings were beautifully lit against dark sky. The river looked like a Turner painting.
Wandered through Trastevere. Cello player was in Piazza di Santa Maria, playing opera arias, lights were shining off the wet pavement, people were walking through the piazza—the intensity of the experience made me stop and just listen and look and feel—a beautiful moment in which I could hear life.
Conversation on the way back to the hotel: “I know where we are.” After a few minutes of walking: “Where are we?” “I don’t know.” “You said you did.” “I did know where I was, that didn’t mean I knew where I was going.” As we had done every day, we wound up going by the Area Sacra, a place I would never have found if I was actually looking for it.
Back to the hotel for a rest (another theme), then back to the restaurant we ate at on Monday. Waiter recognized us! Seated in a small area decorated with a Christmas tree, where we had another great meal. Then off to the Trevi Fountain to throw in our coins and take pictures.