By Jeanne Outlaw-Cannavo
We have been to Rome many times over the years and were always amazed with each new visit how much we hadn’t already seen. During a recent trip to Rome with our grandson we gave him a camera and let him explore and document his visit in his own way. Although he was impressed with the great sites of the ancient city it was also the everyday beat of the city that excited him. Here, in his own pictures, are some of his favorite moments.
Hail, Caesar! Joey had heard of the great emperor Julius Caesar and couldn’t believe this was his burial site in the Roman Forum. The site actually marks the ruins of the Temple of Caesar. The great man was cremated and doesn’t have a grave but people still leave flowers and notes on the altar.
Ancient and modern From the ruins of the Roman Forum, once the heart of ancient Rome, to the more modern monument (right of picture in background) honoring Vittorio Emanuele II (the first king of a unified Italy), Joey saw what enthralls all visitors. This is a city that lives in the moment but is always aware of its past.
Enter the coliseum Joey and his Dad get ready to visit the awe-inspiring Coliseum, the greatest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire built almost 2,000 years ago by the Flavian emperors. This is still the main attraction of the eternal city, site of fearsome battles between men and beasts as well as mock naval battles.
Mouth of Truth Dimmi la Verità! (Tell me the Truth!) The one thing Joey really wanted to see was La Bocca della Verità located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Hanging on the wall at the end of the portico is a heavy stone disc carved in the 4th century B.C. The carving, which has a monstrous bearded face with a gaping, dark slot for a mouth, may once have been a sewer cover on a Roman street. It got its nickname, the “Mouth of Truth,” from the medieval tradition that if you stick your hand in its mouth and tell a lie, it will clamp down on your fingers.
He had talked often of visiting the site but when it came time to put the tradition to the test, he couldn’t quite bring himself to tell a lie! Instead he made his Dad do it and even gave him the lie to test out the theory! He told his Dad to say he didn’t like pizza and watched nervously as his Dad placed his mano (hand) in la bocca (the mouth).
Old man, young man He liked the statues and made a friend of an ancient man immortalized in a bust and on display at the Vatican Museums.
Memorable moments I was just minding my business! Of course one of Joey’s favorite things was to take a break for some delicious gelato. Unfortunately he dropped part of the cone and soon had more than one pigeon battling it out right in front of him. This had him shrieking with laughter and may be one of his more memorable moments in Roma.
Cool hand Joey Keeping cool was easy with all the fountains in Rome. Joey found cool water to drink and a place to dunk his head at the early Baroque fountain called La Fontana della Barcaccia (“Fountain of the Ugly Boat”) at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. Later that night, at the Fontana di Trevi, he made sure to throw a coin in the fountain so he will return again to Rome.
Heartbeat of the street Come si fa a farlo? (How does he do that?) The street life of the city is often as fascinating as the ancient wonders. Joey thought this was the neatest thing and couldn’t believe it was a real person until he got closer and saw the man breathing!
(Writer’s note: One of the best things we did to prepare our grandson for this trip was to send him to La Mia Piazza Italian Language Summer camp over the past few years. Not only did he learn some Italian language but he also learned about different regions, the culture and food and traditions.)