You have spent days crisscrossing Rome’s streets, admiring its ostentatious palaces, lavish basilicas, grand squares, dramatic ruins and spectacular monuments and you think you have seen most of the Eternal City. Think again, because there a whole world hidden BENEATH modern Rome. Have you seen any of it?
The 17 th century Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappucini conceals a Capuchin Crypt in its basement. Walking along the glitzy Via Veneto the last thing you expect to find there is a grim ancient ossuary decorated with disassembled 3700 skeletons. Four small chapels contain bones that are arranged in arches, rosettes, stalked along the walls with a few skeletons dressed in dusty Capucin robes. A sign in the crypt reminds visitors about their mortality: "What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be..."
|Basilica di San Clemente|
Another site that offer a glance at Rome's subterranean structures lies underneath the 12th century Basilica di San Clemente. Follow down the staircase and you will arrive to a hall decorated with faded frescoes, which is the original, 4th century basilica, on of Rome’s first. Below is another layer of Roman history, reachable via a narrow stair. They are an ancient Roman house and temple built in the 1st century. Deeper down there is another level with rooms remaining from a public building destroyed the Great Fire in the year 64 AD. There you can still hear the water flowing in pipes laid by ancient Romans.
|Case Romane al Celio|
Basilica of Ss. Giovanni e Paolo hides one of Rome's best preserved subterranean structures, Case Romane al Celio, that were discovered in the 19th century. The complex includes houses, a shop and a section of a road. Some of the twenty rooms are decorated with beautiful frescoes dating from the 3rd to the 12th century.
Photos via Flickr by: John Mosbaugh, Carole Waller, Franco Torcellan.