BSR Summer School day 11 – Early Medieval Rome

13/9/10 – 5.30pm

The day started with rain, which made taking photos rather problematic, but it brightened up throughout the day.

Forum Romanum

A view of the Forum Romanum looking towards the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

We started by going to the Forum Romanum to see an early church which was converted from a Roman building and which had some amazing early Medieval frescoes.  One of the walls was called ‘The Palimpsest Wall’, where you could see patches of several different layers of frescoes from different phases in the building’s history, which was amazing.  The church is not open to the public and there were people at work excavating/restoring it, so we were very lucky to be able to see it.

From there we made our way to a coffee shop for a break, before going to another church, the name of which I can’t remember, which has tunnel-like Roman/early Christian remains underneath it, which was really interesting if a little creepy.

Religious outfitters

Where the clergy do their shopping...

Then it was time for lunch, and we sat outside a church just round the corner from the Pantheon.  There was a wedding taking place there, which prompted some discussion on the subject of matrimony.  Having recently been released from the prospect of matrimony myself, my thoughts on the subject were less than enthusiastic.

After lunch, we tried to go to one of the religious outfitters to purchase some bishop socks for Jo’s dad, but unfortunately it was closed, so we went to Giolitti’s for ice cream instead!

Crypta Balba Museum

Roman amphorae and table ware in the Crypta Balba Museum

We then descended on the Crypta Balba museum, which was interesting but we didn’t spend very long there unfortunately.  We processed over the Tiber to Trastevere, where the course was brought to a close with a look around the stunning church of Santa Maria in Trastevere.  The best thing about it was the outside wall, in which were mounted numerous Roman paving stones which had Roman graffiti showing all sorts of things, from scribbled writing to a little drawing of a barrel, and one of a ship!

The course programme now sadly at an end, we went to a nearby bar for a drink.  It didn’t seem the most respectable bar if truth be told, and

Santa Maria in Trastevere

Ornate gold mosaic in Santa Maria in Trastevere

while we were there, an ambulance drew up outside and took somebody away on a stretcher…!

A few of us left the bar to head home to the BSR and get our packing done, and on the way home we got waylaid by some clothes shops, where I purchased a really cool new dress at not inconsiderable expense, which I am planning on wearing tonight for our final night in Rome.  I don’t want to leave Rome and I can’t believe it’s over already!

About Rachel Ingram

I graduated from Oxford University in 2009 with an MA in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History from St John's College. After graduating I worked as a Geographic Researcher at, spending lots of time researching and writing travel guides to worldwide destinations, developing my copywriting skills. After working as a copywriter and content consultant at (formerly SEOptimise), where I most enjoyed working with travel clients, I went self-employed. I now divide my time between freelance copywriting and running the business I set up with my boyfriend - - selling aviation gift experiences. In my spare time I'm training for a Private Pilot's Licence, and I also enjoy travelling, wine and baking. My favourite authors are Charles Dickens, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Bill Bryson.
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