Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Just Rome-ing Around

We started out the day by taking a bus and then walking to the Janiculum Hill. We saw multiple monuments, including one of Garibaldi and one of his wife, Anita. Anita taught Garibaldi how to fight and gave him his first Red Shirt. On this hill, Anita and Garibaldi fought in a siege against the papacy. Garibaldi lost the siege, but they brokered a treaty in which Garibaldi was forced to leave Rome. In the late 1890s, Italy was trying to invent itself, so the country commemorated Garibaldi through the monument as a gesture of appreciation for him fighting for the Italian people. This statue shows the curated connection between Ancient Rome and modern-day Rome through the use of the image of Romulus and Remus. In 1920, the papacy decided that they didn't like the statue to Garibaldi and asked Mussolini, ruler at the time, to take it down. However, he said no and chose to also build a statue to his wife, Anita. We discussed how the baby in Anita's arms represents Italy and her carrying Italy through the war. Both of these statues illustrate what Garibaldi and Anita did for Italy and how Italy wants us to view their history. In addition, the hill provided amazing views of the city!
Later, we went to Santa Maria. It was built during the 3rd century and is one of the oldest churches in Rome. The main rebuild in the 13th century was under Pope Innocent II because the anti-pope, who insulted Roger II of Sicily, was buried there and he wanted to erase all memories of him. The portico of the church has become a site of Early Christian sarcophagi that were taken from catacombs. The mosaic in the church depicts a betrothal scene in which Mary represents the church. Jesus is sitting next to Mary and holding a book that says to come and sit on his throne. In this way, the mosaic was like a love story between the church and Christ.
We had the amazing opportunity of walking through the most ancient Jewish community with our guide and former resident, Micaela. The pope, who created laws to control the Jews, gave them this land because it was prone to flooding. Early Christians believed that the only way for Jews to save themselves was to convert to Christianity, which is also why there are churches on every corner of the ghetto. Few people converted and there was distrust between the Jews and the Christians. The area was extremely crowded - 9000 people were squeezed into two blocks of land. Micaela walked us through the history of Jews in Rome, including personal stories from members of the community and her family. The Jewish quarter was so fascinating and we are so thankful Micaela shared her experiences and knowledge with us.

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