Hidden Rome Gems – Basilica di San Clemente

Ever wondered about Time travel? It definitely is possible!
Near the Coliseum towards the Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano exists a magical and enchanted place where you can dive in 2000 years of history moving back in time with every step you take.

basilica-san-clementeThe Basilica of Saint Clement is a Roman Catholic minor basilica as well a unique architectural complex. Its structure is spectacular, the present basilica where you enter, is a 12th century medieval church which has 2 underground levels; the first is a 4th-century basilica that had been converted out of the home of a Roman nobleman, part of which had in the 1st century briefly served as an early church, and the basement of which had in the 2nd century briefly served as a mithraeum; and all erected on the foundations of a republican era building that had been destroyed in 64 AD in the Great Fire of Emperor Nero. (wiki)

If you love full immersion history experience as we do and curious about the incomparable underground world of the Eternal City – this hidden gem is waiting for you!

sotterraneiBeTreasure tip: early morning visit is highly recommended!

As the Basilica is a fairly known attraction and is frequented by tourist groups, it’s best to plan your visit early in the morning (the ticket office opens at 9 am) and try to be the first to visit the underground levels before the groups.

The experience is indescribable you must really try it to understand. Complete silence, darkness but not the hostile one, and frescoes that tell stories of long gone times… In the background you will only hear the flowing water of an underground fountain which dates back to the Imperial Rome era and is still running!
Try to follow the sound of the water, it will guide you to the most hidden corners and deep spots of the structure where you can admire the construction of the first century, the ancient State Mint (Zecca dello Stato) and a Roman house with original pavement, windows and frescoes.

altare-del-mitreo-di-san-clementeBeside the domus you will find a “mitreo“, the temple of Mithras with its altar depicting the god.

On the superior level, above the temple you find the construction of the 4th century where is built the first basilica dedicated to Saint Clement.
Here you can admire the affresco painting of the Madonna from the 8th century – and also here lies the tomb of Saint Cyril who was the inventor of the Cyrillic alphabet.

On this level there’s a very special affresco from about 1100 representing the miracle of Saint Clement. It appears like a cartoon and the curious particularity of the fresco is that it reports the first written testimony of profanity (swearing) “traite fili de le pute“.

Climbing back to the street level you can visit the current Basilica of San Clemente. The medieval church features a marvellous 12th-century apse mosaic depicting the Trionfo della Croce (Triumph of the Cross) and some wonderful Renaissance frescoes in the Chapel of St Catherine.

translation-st-clement-relics

BeTreasure tip: For a snack or breakfast don’t miss Ciuri Ciuri – the art of Sicilian Cannoli in via Labicana, just right in front of the basilica!

 

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Getting Around in Rome

If you happen to have your accomodation right in the city center the only thing to figure out is how to get around and see the most possible during your stay in the Eternal City.

peckhepWe are for exploring and experiencing rather than simple “seeing around”. There’s so much to discover and why not to make a discover out of the journeys from one sight to another? There are so many ways to enjoy the Roman atmosphere, one of them is being part of the everyday life, feeling the beat, like choosing transportation and a getaround mode that connects to the exploration of the city and – why not? – reflects your personality. Here’s the base – you give the rhythm and the pace.

Walk!
Rome’s treasures are spread around on an extensive area – in and outside the Aurelian Walls. Of course the core – the city center is well connected and concentrated so you can walk everywhere, but even so, definitely can save time to use the public transportation. The public transportation is operated by  the company ATAC, it has official apps which are very useful when around the city either to plan the routes and find buses, or check their arrival time! About tickets, prices, and always updated further info check here.

(Talking about apps, this one is also offline, developed by University of Sapienza, a handy guide around Rome with GPS based tracking system, and more than 25hour content!)
In offline mode, can be very handy to have a map with all the bus-tram-metro lines and stops. Here’s one with high resolution graphic.
Beside public transportation there are also open bus tours, double decker buses with hop on – hop off possibility, which can also be a smart way for sightseeing.

Safety warning: tourist-preferred bus lines and metro stops will be crowded and busy, always be very careful and keep an eye on your belongings!

Run!
On foot – may not only mean walking. Some companies recently offer running tours which is a great possibility to combine exercise and sightseeing. It’s a special way to visit the attractions – a nice run in a fresh spring morning with a small group… then breakfast at the Pantheon, just perfect!

Cycle!

15051395628_c105bf7760_zIf your fitness level is good enough you can also choose to get around by bike. There are many bike rentals in the city, some of which offer also electric bikes – even easier to keep up!
Bike rides can be fun and even an all day program if you choose to adventure outside the city center. Choose the Appian Way with friends or family by bike on a sunny day!

BeTreasure tip: In the beautiful Villa Borghese park you also can get around by bike rickshaws – a fun way to explore the green heart of the city. We assure you with kids it will be a memorable and fun experience!

Ride!

vesp 3As well as bike rentals you will find scooter rentals around Rome. What better way to be like Gregory Peck or the divine Audrey? 🙂
Though you better keep your helmet on!
Scooters can enter the limited traffic area ZTL – basically the entire historical center – but cannot use bus tracks.
We love Bici & Baci

BeTreasure tip: An eco-friendly ride if in couple or in close group the electric APE tours. It’s an eclusive retro and cheerful way to get around, we had a classic (not electric) APE ourselves and it’s a really unique experience either to drive it or to be a passenger. This vehicle is icon of a lifestyle, a real testimony of the Italian Dolce Vita and the Sixties!

Surprise!

WP_20131207_008botticelle_02Pricey but romantic, different and unique transportation is the horse-drawn carriage. Once in a lifetime? Maybe on your bucket list? Rome by night, half day tours… really a lot of choices for a special way of sightseeing.

 

segAnd last but not least, the eco-friendly electric urban mobility “vehicle” which saves you time, cool and fun, not walking and not driving… the perfect mix of technology and slow tourism. You can choose the segway tours to see around the Eternal City even without dressing like a gladiator.

Let us know which way to get around you prefer or if there’s anything we’ve missed, we’d love to hear your choice!

 

 

Sex And The Eternal City

Passion, intrigue, jealousy, love… emotions come to life – in Rome every piece of marble and stone tells a story. A common story of us being human. And how being human makes our life an extraordinary story.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, self-portrait, c1623.jpg

Let’s follow someone who knew a thing or two about human emotions and telling stories that last for centuries to come.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini is a symbol for the city. He was more than an artist, a sculptor, he was a universal artistic genius. Trough his live, dynamic, passionate art he remains a palpable presence in his beloved Rome. Take a walk to discover the taste of his open air museum that the Eternal City was, with the help of three cornerstones of his immense art.

Our all time favourite museum is where we start. Galleria Borghese is situated in the beautiful park of Villa Borghese.The museum hosts several Bernini sculptures, like Apollo and Daphne, David, but our call here is the Rape of Proserpina.

gian_lorenzo_bernini_046_plutone_e_proserpina_1621

Bernini’s art  (especially the scupltures) is very personal, therefore the beauty and value of it can not completely be explained by guides or essays – more it is a vivid sensation of each one of us when getting close to one of his masterpieces. Did we mention he finished this one when he was 23? Let’s look at it again. 23. The marbel seems clay or wax under Bernini’s hands, it’s hard to find appropriate words to describe the majesty and the dynamic, alive presence of the composition in the huge museum hall. Ok, there’s one. Goosebumps.
(Note: to visit Galleria Borghese reservation is aways needed! More info here.)

Next stop is Largo Santa Susanna, the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. Here we can admire Bernini at his best – as he said, The Extasy of Saint Teresa was his “men cattiva opera”, the least bad piece. A complete theatre scene represents an episode of Teresa d’Avila’s life as she encounters with an angel.

teresa2“I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s
point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God.”
(Santa Teresa d’Avila, Autobiografia, XXIX, 13)

The outright provoking sexuality, in case of religious themes called also “sacred eroticism” is far from unfamiliar for the Baroque Rome. Not in profane ways, yet it must be taken as it was, a direct intuition of the divine, an engaging internal mysticism experience of the artist.” However Saint Teresa’s Extasy is unquestionably sensual with strong erotic drive, we love the interpretation of Irving Lavin who said “the transverberation becomes a point of contact between earth and heaven, between matter and spirit”.

Let’s move on towards Trastevere, touching Piazza Barberini with Bernini’s Fontana del Tritone, Piazza della Minerva with the Obelisc and walking through the Tiber Island.

Our last stop is in the curch of San Francesco a Ripa, a funerary monument, one of Bernini’s last work.ludovica The Extasy of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni represents a similar union with the divine like the above described Saint Teresa, presented in a simpler and soberer form. The intimacy of the chapel and the theatrical setting, where Bernini designed with a hidden window the focus of the light on the marble figure’s face, emphasize the artist’s pictorial approach.

Should you need tips & suggestions on where to eat or anything comes in mind, let us know and we’ll be happy to share pearls of our treasurebox! 😉
Route of this walk here.

barberini faun

 

 

 

BeTreasure tip: plan a special walking tour route following a character or specific element you choose, like angels, dolphins or satyrs.

Our favourite satyr statue, the Barberini Faun is not in Rome but was found below Castel Sant’Angelo and has been restored by the great Gianlorenzo Bernini.