Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Ho Visto*

I seldom go into Centro during the evenings unless it is for a special event - dinner, opera etc - so a few weeks ago when I found myself going to Trastevere after dark I took a few "night" photos of an area that I pass through regularly during daylight hours.

The Ghetto is one of my favourite areas in the city - it is a touristy but retains its neighbourhood feeling. Once a walled in area where the gates were closed at sunset and opened again at sunrise it is now a quartiere where things are constantly happening.  And as the brochure for the Museum in the Great Synagogue says:  We've been here 3000 years - have we got stories!

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My normal walk takes me from Largo Argentino - where Julius Cesar was assassinated - through  Piazza Mattei to Portico d'Ottavia by way of Via dell Reginella passed San Grigorio and across the Ponte Fabricio - built in 62 BC and still used today - over the Isola Tiberina and across the younger - 1 BC - Ponte Cestio and on to Trastevere. 

The Fontana delle Tartarughe stands in the Piazza Mattei at what was once one of the gates to the Ghetto.  It was recently restored and a water purification system installed - the high calcium content of the water that flows through the fountains of the city means that unless work is being constantly done marble becomes stained and drains clogged.

Via della Reginella is the only street that is left from the original Ghetto - most of the area was torn down or reconstructed when Rome ceased to be a Papal State. Once a street of overcrowded tenement homes it now houses some interesting art galleries and shops;  though thank heaven it still has a local flavour and hasn't been too "Disneyfied".

Portico d'Ottavia was originally built in 146 BC by Quinto Cecilio Metello but rebuilt by Augustus to honour his sister Ottavia - the ex-wife of Marcus Antonius - in 23 BC.  It was the site of temples to both Juno and Jove as well as a Greek and a Latin library.  Today the tiny church of Sant'Angelo di Pescheria stands where one of the temples once was.  Before the area became the cramped living quarters for Rome's Jews it was the fish market. To the far right is one of the few remaining Medieval buildings in the area.  

After Pope Paul IV herded Roman Jews into the Ghetto in 1555 San Grigorio a Ponte Quattro became the focus of some of the draconian laws that governed life in the Ghetto.  Jews were forced to attend mass and listen to hectoring sermons expounding the errors of their ways on their Sabbath - its location just outside one of the main gates to the enclave made it the perfect location for these attempts at forced conversion.  

San Bartolomeo all'Isola sits at one end of Isola Tiberina in the middle of the Tiber, a hospital at the other. The site of a temple to Aesculapius with a sacred snake from Epidarus the Isola has been a "hospital" island since ancient Roman times.
This photo was taken on a slightly earlier evening when the Tiber had risen because of constant rains. It had overflowed the first embankment and all of the first level around the Isola was underwater. Before the embankment was built in the late 1800s floods were a common occurrence both on the Isola and on both sides of the river.

The lights of Trastevere beckoning across the Tiber from the Ponte Cestio and by this time the river level had fallen considerably.

This laurel wreath had been hanging at a memorial to the deportation of the Roman Jews in Largo 16 Ottobre 1943 for a year or more - finally someone saw fit to take it down.
Once a week I take this little stroll through history and at night it take on a  - dare I use the term - magical quality and history seems to loom  even more present.

09 febbraio - San Niceforo di Antiochia
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Debra She Who Seeks said...

How wonderful to live among such history and monuments! But do they have lumberjacks? (Great comment you left on my blog, you devil!)


such beauty...

David said...

Gosh, won't you miss those treasures when the time comes to leave - I'll never forget coming across the turtle fountain on a winter night stroll. And the hospital island, who doesn't love that? I get very nostalgic looking at the atmospheric snaps.

Anonymous said...

This is so interesting.