It was real horror to fake horror today. We had heard about a church that had a crypt with elaborate decorations made of the bones of thousands of dead Capuchin monks so we were determined to see that for sure! After breakfast we walked down to Via Veneto, one of the upscale streets with big hotels and designer shops. At the lower end, near Piazza Barberini, there’s the church, Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccin. They have a little museum with lots of interesting artifacts detailing information about the Cappuchins and then there’s the crypt with 4 or 5 small chapels each decorated differently. There’s more infomation about the chapels here.
It was kind of bizarre and unsettling in some ways. The decorations and even the light fixtures were all made of old bones, large ones, small ones and there were lots of skulls as well as some “corpses” made up of the robes and the skulls and bones. They don’t allow photos but I saw someone else taking them without a flash so i did too and neither of us got yelled at. Graham bought a tshirt at the small gift counter, lots of skulls with the Cappuchin name and ‘Rome” on it.
From there, we went to see fake horror. Italian horror movie director, Dario Argento, has a small shop across the Tiber from Piazza di Populo, a few blocks up from the river on Via dei Gracchi. It’s named after one of his films, Profundo Rosso, or “Deep Red” and they sell all the usual types of things for that sort of shop. Horror masks, costumes, tshirts, books about horror movies and Argento’s of course. There are plastic props, Harry Potter tat, models, knick knacks etc. The real attraction is the museum/exhibit underneath that has memorabilia from Argento’s films set up in various tableaux with dark shadows, lurid coloured lights bathing the exhibits in blue or red, an audio narration track playing so you can tell what you’re looking at and lots of spookiness. It’s onlyl small so it doesn’t take long to see but if you’re a horror movie fan like my partner is, it’s a must see!
From there we walked towards Cola di Rienzo, a good street for shoppers with stores, a department store called Coin, and a lot of market type stalls along the street as well. Some seem a bit dodgey but most of the goods at them seemed ok. We did some browsing and shopping and found a store with all different kinds of food, from coffee and tea, to chocolate, to a counter lined with candy you bought in bulk by weight. They had all different kinds of gourmet and other foodstuffs in jars and tins, even imported items like Vegemite (Australia) and Branston Pickle (UK). I had seen the many varieties of chocolate in the window which lured me in!
Down by the Tiber River, we walked along and headed towards Castel Sant’Angelo, the former Papal stronghold. From there over to the road leading to St. Peter’s were many vendors, both independent and strolling around trying to sell yet more of the cashmere wraps and other items, to a little market “village” with vendors selling all kinds of things. It was a tourist trap, i suppose but as we browsed some of the stalls, the prices seemed pretty good and we did pick up a few gifts at what I thought were reasonable prices.
Time to find a bus stop and this time we didn’t have to walk too far. The bus took us close to the hotel but a few streets over. We stopped into the patisserie around the corner and got some pastries and coffee to take to the room. Coffee was pretty strong but the pastries were yummy! After a rest and turns taken with the laptop, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe. It was a good meal and great atmosphere and we enjoyed that a lot. It wasn’t as expensive as i thought it would be, certainly not the most expensive meal we’ve had.
Friday is our last full day and we’re having a (probably) gruelling three hour tour of the Vatican and St.Peter’s. The plan is to spend the morning relaxing and then heading out to an earlyish lunch before the tour.