The end of my business trip to Italy

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After two days in Milan, I flew down to Rome last night with an IBM colleague for some business at IBM Rome today. It’s been a good and busy trip, but it’s nearly over. The hotel at which I’m staying is south of the city center, but runs free shuttle buses downtown every 90 minutes during the day. Though I was tired, I caught the 5pm bus which dropped me off at the Piazza Venizia around 5:30.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Rome three or four times for business and several years ago we did a family vacation here, using up most of my acquired frequent flier miles on American Airlines at the time.

Much before that, in 1986 my wife and I came to Rome on a month long trip were I visited IBM Science Centers and universities to talk about the computer algebra system (Scratchpad II) on which I worked. Oddly enough, we stayed at the same hotel I’m at now. They didn’t remember me upon check-in last night.

There is always more to see and do in Rome, and even if you’ve visited all the places on your wish list, you can go back and see them again. This time I wanted to go see the “Church of the Bones,” also known as Santa Marie della Concezione. It’s macabre, but there is a crypt there where Capuchin friars used the skeletons of long deceased friars to construct and decorate the walls of chapels. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see that?

The church or crypt was closed for renovation in 2004 when we visited, so I thought I might be able to sneak over there today. Unfortunately the crypt closes at 6pm. Double unfortunately it’s not even open on Thursdays. So I didn’t go and I just have to find an excuse to come back. In the middle of the day. Maybe on a Tuesday.

Piazza Venizia is very close to the Roman Forum, so I decided to spend a couple of hours walking around the ruins of centuries worth of Roman and Christian buildings, arches, and walkways. Here’s a view of it from the western side near the Capitoline Museums.

The Roman Forum

I like arches. It probably goes back to when I took a “Roman Art and History” class as a college freshman, and one of the oldest in Rome is the Arch of Titus. It’s on the eastern side of the Forum, relatively close to the Colosseum. Here’s a shot of it:

The Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum

Not a bad photo for a sunny Spring day in May, but I like photos with people in them, preferably family or friends. I was there solo, so I decided to do a self portrait:

The Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum

Well, hmmm. I tried once more, and that came out a lot better, but someone offered to take photo and I reluctantly handed him my Canon camera. His shot was a definite improvement.

The Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum

So I really was there, and I have the photo to prove it.

Incidentally most of the little fences in the Forum have signs, in English, that say “Do not lean on railing.” It may have been a language issue, but for many who did understand the signs they clearly didn’t think that sitting on a railing was the same as leaning on it.

The Forum closed about 45 minutes after I entered, so I quickly walked around some more, took some additional photos, and grabbed a cappuccino while I waited for the hotel shuttle bus. My total elapsed time away from the hotel was only 2 and 1/2 hours, but it was good to get out and visit some true wonders of the ancient world.

In truth, they looked a little older. But then again, so do I.

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