Then I walked along part of the Appian Way. It was really pleasant, just walking along the quiet road. . .
Then, through the Gate of Sebastian. . .
On the other side of the gate. . .
And saw some ruins in private gardens. . . I don't know why, but it just seems to me that this is how ruins should look. . . all covered over in plants, half hiding in the cool shade, being gently re-absorbed into nature. .
Or in the middle of a field, with life quietly going on around them. . .
Then I made my way to the nearest catacombs and took the tour, which was awesome! But, they don't let you take any pictures, of course. . .
A little bit of info on the catacombs themselves. . . the word "catacomb" actually comes from the Greek words meaning "near a hole". It was a geographical locator for the place where this underground grave yards were, since they were near a quarry - a big hole. At the time, the Christians called it something like "a place of interment" to describe their hope for the resurrection, as apposed to the Greek name for burial ground, which was Necropolis, or city of the dead. Only later did the name used to describe where this particular burial ground was become the word used to describe the style of burial. In fact, this style of burial was not a Christian tradidtion, but was just the prevailing style of burial at the time.
I was expecting actual people to be buried there, but over the millenia, grave robbers and barbarian sackers stole most of the remains, and then, realising they couldn't keep the place secure, the Pope ordered that all the remaining remains be moved to inside the city walls. In ancient times, it was illegal to bury anyone inside the city walls, so that's why the catacombs are outside the walls. A big difference from later, when people were regularly buried in the curches in the city (that's what all the side chapels are for, mostly).
Also, one big misconception is that during times of persecution, Christians would actually live in the Catacombs. But, that is not true. For one thing, all burial grounds were considered public property, so all the Romans would have known where they were (not a very good hiding place if your enemy knows where it is). The climate within the catacombs isn't very condusive for living, either. Plus, even in early times, people didn't want to live where dead bodies were slowly (and smelly-ly) decomposing. So, occassionally, early Christians would go there to celebrate mass during times of persecution (there are still a couple of chapels where they allow groups to do this), but then they would sneak back to their houses.
Anyway, there are three catacombs right close together, but I only made it to one of them. I think there are four or five open to the public, but something like 500 total (don't quote me on that number, I might have totally made it up). There are also a couple of Jewish catacombs, but I don't think they're open to the public at all. Also, if I had gone along the Appian way farther outside the city, it would have gotten a lot more beautiful and country-ish, judging by google images. And there are a lot more tombs and such along the whole stretch of it, too. But, it was getting late, and I didn't have enough food with me to sustain a longer walk, so I headed back. Next time, though, we'll rent bikes and make a whole day of it!
Whew! I suppose that's all for the Catacombs, for now. . .
Today we went to visit the Villa Farnesina, which was kind of funny because it was painted by Rafael and his students, but you can definitely tell what parts were done by him, and what parts weren't. The quality of his students was not nearlly as good as his. Sorry, we weren't allowed to take pictures inside, either!
Also, the garden was pretty much gone, so it wasn't the best Villa I've been to, but that's okay!
Well, the rest of the week will mostly be spent in studio, getting ready for finals, so don't expect too much excitement from my end of things.