Capuchin Bones, Borghese Trees, and Taxis
Because the program that Brian was teaching through was not simply a full-semester program, but a pairing of two half-semesters (where the students were in London for half and Florence for half), our Florence experience had a sense of repetition. With each group of students there were repeated experiences - introduction and farewell group dinners, special class meetings, and travel. We went to Rome twice with the students, each time for three days. April 28th was our last day on the second of these trips. It was also the last time I was in Rome.
After the free breakfast in the hotel, we passed by the cat sanctuary and Palazzo Montecitorio, the home of the Italian Chamber of Deputies (one of the houses of Parliament). Some hours after we passed this location, there was a politically-motivated shooting. While this event did not affect us at all, it raised the tension levels in the city, which we did feel on our later taxi ride to the train station.
Il Convento dei Cappuccini - Church, Museum, Crypt, and Monestary
That morning we visited the Crypt of the Capuchin Monks. We had read about the rooms of the bones, and the crypt was on our way to the Borghese Gallery where we were to meet students later.
We were not allowed to take photographs in the crypt, so here are some images that I shot from the brochure and postcards that I picked up. I also bought an olive wood Franciscan cross in the gift shop. The Capuchin Monks are Franciscan.
Here is the wikipedia article on the crypt.
We continued our walk up via Veneto to the entrance of the Borghese Gardens. Brian had to meet the students for a tour of the Gallery, which I opted to skip. I had visited the Gallery on our last trip to Rome, and it was a beautiful day outside. I wanted to walk around and look at the trees.
Lunch at the Modern Gallery then Travel
After the tour, Brian, Jodi (the program director), a student, and I walked through the park to the Modern Art Gallery. We had lunch in the café, then looked at the art. We called a taxi to take us back to the hotel so that we could meet up with the group and travel, again by taxi, to Termini Station for our return train to Florence.
It would take four taxis to get all fourteen students and three adults to Termini. We called from the hotel, and as the taxis arrived one by one, we loaded each up with one adult and as many students as would fit (one taxi would have only students). I was in the first taxi with three students. Our instructions were to wait at Termini where the taxis dropped us off. Jodi was holding the group train ticket, and she would take the last taxi (with four students) from the hotel.
As we left the hotel, I noticed that we were headed southwest instead of northeast, which would be the usual route to the station. We looped around the south, and I was able to point out the Circus Maximus, which most students had not seen. Soon we were passing the Basilica of St. John Lateran. While this extra tour around Rome was interesting, we did have a train to catch, and the taxi driver spoke no English and gave us no indication of why we were traveling this scenic route.
The shooting earlier in the day was connected to the installation of the new government and there were many protests taking place around the city. Roads were blocked off, and at one point our taxi driver pulled over to talk to police officers. I though he was asking directions (a bad sign), but he must have been trying to figure out which roads were open and would get us to Termini. We dog-legged through some neighborhoods and were dropped off on the back side of the station. The students and I waited there for a few minutes wondering of the other taxis would be stopping here too. Hoping that our experience in the taxi was unique, we went to the taxi stand in front of the station.
We waited, and tried to get cell phones to work, and eventually found out that, due to the chaos in the city, the requested taxis were not arriving at the hotel. They managed to get two to stop, and soon Brian arrived with three students, and then the other taxi of four students. Brian had spoken to Jodi (still at the hotel, waiting for a taxi) who instructed us to get on the train with the students. She gave him the ticket number for our group ticket in case she didn't make it. We boarded the train, and I stood in the doorway of the train car, ready to block the closing of the doors and try to delay the train to give Jodi and the students more time. About two minutes before our departure time, we saw them running across the station. They hopped on board, and after swapping stories of taxi adventures on that very warm day, we all fell asleep for the ride.
Back in Florence for Dinner with Family
My brother David and his friend Angelynn were staying with us in Florence, but they went to Cinque Terre for the weekend when we went to Rome. We had all returned to Florence by Sunday evening, and we met in Piazza Republica then found a place to eat. We had a great dinner at del Gattoe la Volpe (the Cat and Wolf - of Pinocchio fame), and then went for gelato at Grom, which has some of the best gelato in Florence. They returned to the US the next day.
My calendar for 4/28/13 reads:
Slept until 7. Breakfast. Check-out. Headed toward Borghese; stopped at Crypt of Capuchin on the way. Sort of creepy. Nice walk in gardens before and during the group tour of the Gallery. Lunch with Jodi and a student at the Modern Gallery. Looked at art. Taxi to hotel. Weird taxi to Termini. Jodi barely made it on time. Return to FI. Met D and A at Republica. Dinner at Cat & Wolf. Grom. Packing time back at apt.