I awaken, a little sore from carrying Lily so far yesterday. But it’s a good feeling. Today we leave Rome and head to Amalfi, the final stop on our quick 9-day Italy trip. But first we have a little more Rome to do.
Trish has always told this story of a ghastly crypt in Rome that was decorated entirely of human bones. But as 20 years goes by, she admits it became harder to remember if she had really seen it or made it up in her mind (perhaps while looking at iron Maiden LPs on acid.)
Well it’s real. And it’s pretty freaking creepy. In a church called Santa Maria Immaculata, near Barbarini Square, there is an old crypt build by Cappucin monks (the same that supposedly invented the beverage we all love.) It’s got 6 rooms that have stacked and arranged bones from thousands of bodies. There are skeletons, graves, chandeliers and wall art all composed of human bones. Hips, jaws, vertebrae, femurs and hands are glued and built to cover every square inch of the six rooms.
It was created in xxx mostly from the bones of friars and even some relatives of one of the popes. Catholicism has always had a morbid side, but this is such a display of heresy that a pope had to issue an injunction, declaring it okay for people to view without sinning.
Lily huddles close to me as we walk through, but she keeps her eyes open. Emma enjoys the macabre display and Trish beams with delight at finding her bone-crypt once again. It’s off the beaten path in Rome, worth the visit and definitely exotic.
Nearby is a museum of Mideval and Rennaisance art that includes some from Raphael and carravggio. It’s a former palace, and isn’t in the best condition. The art is difficult for kids to absorb, but it’s only a small collection and they keep their interest throughout.
The morning is past, and we collect our packed bags from the hotel. We’ve already checked out and are headed to Amalfi for a few days. It’s a subway to fast-train to local train to bus journey that will take the rest of the day, leaving us tired and dirty.
We call the travel we do ‘exotic family travel’ – and, yes, it’s a self-serving classification. Exotic is a obviously a very relative term. In some ways, it seems nothing is inaccessible or exotic anymore, but adventure travel already means something specific.
To us, exotic is the spirit of travel. Our goal is always to push a little farther than what’s comfortable. That’s where you find the exotic, like an overnight in the Sahara, or a Mayan ruin 60 miles from the nearest electricity.
Is Italy exotic? Not really. It’s cheap opportunity to see one of the great destinations. It’s easier to appreciate the exotic when you know the classics.
But here I sit with m two kids and wife on the two-hour bus ride crawling along the Amalfi coast, after the metro ride, a Trenitalia from Rome to Napoli, and a switch to the to the local rail system for another 75 minutes. And I feel like we are pushing the boundaries, lol. The Amalfi coast is supposedly a hot tourist destination. Can it really take all day to go 100 miles from Rome? (Maybe we missed something?) Maybe we’ll find the exotic here in Amalfi.