Had a slightly more lesiurely start this morning, lingering a bit more over breakfast. Had a slight detour to start with as we got on the wrong train, which then missed out the next stop. Eventually managed to get going in the right direction towards the basillica San Cle!emnte.Entrance to the 12th century basillica is free despite the bloke standing by the door with a bowl asking for money. The basillica is quite impressive in it's own right, lovely decorated ceilling and altars, with a range of styles frlm 12th century to Baroqoue. This is complimented by a lovely peaceful cloister.
However for 10euro you can go on a journey through time. Underneath the present church are the remains of a 4th century chuch. There are frescos on the walls and the remains of the mosaic tiled floor. One of the fresco's is believed to mark the tomb of St. cyril , apostle to the slavs and founder of slavonic literature. You can see in the stonework where materials from an earlier building have been reused. There is a stone slab with a pagan inscription on one side and a later christian inscription on the other.
Our journey back in time does not end with trhe 4th century christians but continuing deeper there is the remains of 1st century buildings, possibily a house and also a larger building that it is thought may be a mint. The larger building has it's own spring, still running. The house has it's own mithraic temple, complete with seats and an altar. A real glimpse into the past 2000 years ago. There has also been discovred a deeper layer containing burnt material and it is believed to date from the fire of Rome in 64 AD.
We emerged from St. clement's back into the 21st century and headed towards the next countr on our tour, the Vatican City State. We had an arrangement to meet someone for quick access to the museums but had a bit of time spare before, so went to look art St. Peter's Square. On the way we received countless offers of scarves, selfie sticks, guided tours etc. St. Peter's square wasn't as crowded as I expected. The basilica is quite imposing at one end with the sides of the square framed by collonades topped by statues. An obelisk and 2 fountains are in the centre. This of course is where Calligua's circus was and many early christians and other enemies of the state met their fate. Little feeling of that remains, can ground once soaked in blood be hallowed by years of prayer?
We then headed to our meeting point ouside the vatican museums. The musems contain some stunning art works some history, amazing ceilings, artworks and ceilings - lots and lots of them. After a while it all becomes a blur. The things that stood out for me were probaly some of the religous art, the tryptichs and altar reredoses, the tapestries and the maps. I was also impressed with the ceilings and the fact that there was a Graham Sutherland piece that looked very like part of the Coventry Cathedral tapestry, you come alll to Rome and see something from home.
Of cvourse, what everyone really goes to the vatican museums to see is the Sistine chspel. Like most of the Vatican museums it has ornately painted ceillings amd walls, these just happen to be painted by some guy called Michealangelo. It has to be said they are very imlpressive. The only problem is that the chapel is absoloutly full ofpeople, all walking around looking up at the ceilling and therefore walking into each other.
After the Sistine chapel we dedcided to see what the queue was like next door for St. Peters. As there wasn't muc queue we went in. I must admit my first impressions after a two days in Rome were it's a big church with lots of good art, again, and lots of people. If we could get that many people into Coventry Cathedral I expect the canon treasurer would be a very happy man. Back to St. Peters, I must admit I found the tomb that looked like it had a dead pope in it on display a bit of putting. I also didn't feel any particularly strong holy atmosphere. Maybe that was just due to me feeling tired and churced / arted out.
Got the metro back to Flammenico and found a pizzeria bar fof a beer. The first beer came wirh bits of pizza, the second with a large plate of crisps.
After a rest at the hotel just went to the same place we went the first nigh for dinner, where I sampled a plate of italian cheese and cold meats, the salami was a lot tastier than the stuff I buy in the supermarket back home.