By Lewis Wintle-Cook
Okay, there are no photos today out of respect of the places visited.
Our tour guides, Angela and Jonathan, knew their stuff inside and out and made a little bear’s head whirl with knowledge and excitement.
Our first stop was to the ancient Roman catacombs, dating back almost 2,000 years to the 2nd century AD, these extensive network of tunnels were once both a burial ground and a place of worship for the first Christians in Rome. They were carved into tunnels made from soft volcanic rock.
All the bones were removed, except the odd few, either by Barbarians, souvenir hunters or the church reburying them.
The Barbarians use to sell them back to the church as the bones of early martyrs.
We also saw some beautiful frescoes.
I was horrified at the stories, that before the catacombs had been rediscovered, people walking through the fields above would sometimes fall into holes and disappear, never to be seen of again.
We then went to Basilica of San Clemente a fabulously decorated church (with columns from the Forum and marble tiles from the Colosseum – did anyone say upcycling) and a breathtaking baroque painting on the ceiling.
The church is a TARDIS as it sit on top of two millennia of foundations and we were able to go back in time to the 12th and 4th-century to see basilicas, a 2nd-century cult temple, and ruins dating back to Nero’s Great Fire in 64 AD. Underneath all of this history lies a functioning aqueduct, in which water still flows today.
Again our guide Angela told us fact after fact that made our time travel come to life. It was sometimes hard for a bear to get his head around that each level you went down was once street level.
OK the last stop was the freaky, weird stuff that may give some readers nightmares (and small bears)
(Dun, Dun, Dun)
The Capuchin Crypt – known locally as the ‘Bone Chapel.’
I’m not going to say any more about this but to share these links.