Hi, I’m Peter Matheson. Last Thursday most of our group boarded an early train to Venice. As I planned to skip the Venice trip and leave for Lyon on Friday, I had Rome to myself for the day. So I decided to go on a little adventure and perform an experiment of sorts.
I took the tram into the center of the city, then went into every open door I could, just to see what I could find and what kind of trouble I could get into.
1. The first door lead to a courtyard.
1. An ornate court yard, but still just a courtyard. My presence did not seem to please the doorman, so I fled before exploring further.
2. Another door led to what looked like Olivander’s shoe shop.
3. A third door led to a gilded furniture repair workshop. After a minute of timid knocking I tried the door. Locked.
4. What lay behind the fourth door was a bit more interesting.
4. The woman sitting behind the front desk informed me that whatever building I was walking into was free, and that I could access the first and second floors. After a few minutes of wandering, I realized I was in the Theatrical Museum and Library of Rome.
4. There were models of theaters…
4. Paintings of theaters…
4. Masks used in theater…
4. Even a large lecture hall lined with shelves full of textbooks about acting and old plays.
5. Door #5
5. led to an over sized staircase
5. with a view of the interior courtyard where kids played football underneath a lemon tree. This building turned out to be an Catholic elementary school for boys concentrating on music and language.
6. Hiding on the edge of a Piazza Della Chiesa Nuova was another conspicuously tall door.
6. First a courtyard…
6. then up four flights of what was once a grand staircase…
6. I borrowed an appropriately large key from the front desk…
6. and walked into a spectacularly large archival library…
6. complete with obligatory dusty books and old globes. I had found Borromini’s Biblioteca Vallicelliana.
7. Behind the 7th door lay…
7. four massive and imposing statues. They gaurd the entry to the Museo di Roma near Palazzo Braschi.
8. Behind the eighth…
8. the breathtaking Parish of Saint Mary in Vallicella offers an audio guide describing the history and architectural qualities of the church.
9. This is the modest side entrance to
9. a massive open space. I still don’t know what church this is, or where.
10. The spooky tunnel on the left was just begging for a visitor.
10. Alas, another of the Jewish Ghetto’s small vertical courtyards.
11. Door number 11 lay to the north of the Jewish Ghetto.
11. A double courtyard packed with statues and divided by a bridge.
11. The second courtyard had a wall devoted to the display of spolia. This courtyard lies at the center the 17th century Palazzo Antici Mattei, currently home to the Center for American Studies.
12. At the end of a paizza lies an alley and at the end of the alley lies this tunnel and through the tunnel lies…
11. a space I would describe as a spolia garden, overlooking the ruins of the Theater of Marcellus.
13. Sala Santa Rita’s entrance.
13. Dance practice in the Nave. Thirteen different and unexpected finds. Not bad for one day of wandering. I have a feeling Rome hides a lot more behind its tall imposing doors than we think.