Are you not entertained?

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That line from “Gladiator” never gets old and I swear I think I heard Russell Crowe echoing in my ear as I entered the city and was wowed by this sight. Such ancient beauty juxtaposed against the mundane, in this case a routine airport pick-up. And that is the essence of Rome, the sublime meets everyday modern life.

I arrived at my hotel, Leon’s Place (sidebar: who doesn’t want to stay at a joint called Leon’s Place? It sounds like a secret jazz speakeasy where Leon dazzles his guests with his piano stylings and tales of safaris with Papa Hemingway and the broads that got away, or the new venture from that guy of “Cathouse” fame, or merely the rebranded former Hotel Leonardo, an equally nifty, but far less glamorous, not to mention better reputed establishment) too early to check in so I went on the hunt for epic pizza (more on that over at StreetMeat) then returned back to Leon’s (whom I’ve still yet to meet!) to hook up with my guide for a tour of the weirder side of ancient Rome (my request, not his suggestion).

The highlight was a visit to the former home of the Frati de Minori Cappicini, a Franciscan order.

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Well seems like the brothers had trouble parting with the remains of their dearly departed, so they either stacked the bones or made sculpture from them, and four large rooms of their handiwork were on display. Unfortunately no photography is permitted but let’s just say that shoulder blades make a great pair of wings, especially when attached to the back of a skull. Super weird and super awesome!

I then ventured into the emerging hood San Lorenzo for dinner, which was so epic it deserves its own post. More on that tomorrow – before Mass (if the pope doesn’t drop dead because I set foot in a church!)

Until then I’ll leave you with a couple looks at Leon’s Place, a nice place
to be (my tag, not theirs!)

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