Monday, March 29, 2010

March 21

March 21, 2010

The legacy of our medieval forefathers grows stronger with every step. Today we traveled the via Francigena through Viterbo to the Palazzo dei Papi, the papal palace. As we trekked through Viterbo we were greeted by the friendly face of Alfio, Viterbo’s mascot homeless man, whose glorious beard and kind eyes stared out at us from posters across the city. Before entering the palace we visited the museum, with an impressive collection of reliquaries as well as many examples of furnishings once found in the palace. The highlight of the collection was without a doubt the rapping nun – check her out!

Max’s presentation on the papal palace taught us much about this truly unique medieval city. In the loggia we saw the first example of Gothic tracery in all of Italy.


We admired the feat of engineering that the medieval builders accomplished in the loggia’s fountain, which once spouted water provided by a pressurized aqueduct. We headed inside to check out the Aula Magna and asked to go into other areas of the palace but were informed that without the bishop’s invitation, we were not welcome, since today the medieval palace is his residence! Instead we checked out the medieval cathedral of S. Lorenzo and learned about its Baroque additions. The palace tour guide described to us the extensive renovations undertaken in the wake of damage done during World War II. Although when we arrived we were skeptical about the significance of the papal palace, we left persuaded that this was in fact an important yet controversial place for the medieval papacy.

After a pleasant picnic, we browsed through the antiques (junk) market and tried our hands at bartering. A bunch of us snagged some cheap swag as fun souvenirs. We headed back up to the hotel to pick up our bags and take the “downhill” stroll to the train station where we happened upon the REAL Alfio. On board the train we BLOGGED and saw an adorable group of boy/girl scouts (they start the coed socializing early here in Italy) with bigger bags than ours. We creeped them out by snapping pics, but this scout/pilgrim graciously smiled for us.

Dinner in Rome was tasty but the unexpected surprise of Amy trumped the dinner by a long shot. After the scrumptious meal of pasta, veal, and insalata, Alchermes led us on a walking tour of Rome, which took us by the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain, ending with gelato at Giolitti’s!

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