After waiting at least 20 minutes, the sweet clerk at the entrance finally let us down into the crypts. I think they tried to limit the number of people down there at once, partly because the staircase was quite narrow and maybe to keep it from getting too crowded.
The crypts were a lot bigger than I imagined they would be. They were, in fact, huge and we were impressed. I felt like I was in a man made cave – everything was very dark and damp and there were puddles of water we had to navigate around. Historians are uncertain as to what these crypts were used for, but most were used for storage. Since these are so wet though, they believe it is more likely that they were used as housing for public slaves.
As I had felt for most of our trip, I was amazed again at how these ancient Roman structures are so intact after several thousand years. It was also so strange to me to be in region with such an ancient history that is so intertwined with the present.
After climbing back up the stairs an back into the bright sunlight, we stopped by to get some gelato at Soleileis, local gelatoria with all natural ingredients and unique flavor combinations. I got a couple different flavors to try, one of which was the fadoli, olive oil mixed with nougatine. Jesse got a few other flavors also, so we got a fair sampling and were not disappointed with any of the flavors. Mmmmm. We felt better and refreshed after getting a bump in our blood sugar level from the cool, creamy dessert and headed back to where we’d just come from to explore the St Trophime Church, which was just across from (or on top of?) the ancient crypts.
The smooth curves of the Romanesque style cathedral were a refreshing change from the harsh Gothic style angles we had seen during the first part of our trip. The cloisters made a nice, peaceful stroll and also an intriguing architectural study, as they was a mash-up of Gothic style, Romanesque style, and pieces of the old Roman theater (various columns and pieces of art). The roof above the cloisters was incredibly hot due to the lack of shade and it being mid-day, so we didn’t stay up there very long.
On the way back down, we stopped by a temporary art exhibit at the Cathedral. It was a bit shocking to see this particular type of art in an old Church, but perhaps that was part of the artists’ vision and statements, I am not sure. All I know was it seem horribly ironic to have crude art in the wings of a church. There were pictures of the backsides of nude people, cutouts of nude people sewn into large quilts/tapestries, and a large blown up photo of poop falling out of an elephant’s rear, and these were just a few of the many, many random art pieces decorating the walls. Bizarre, but sort of an interesting surprise and it made smile and I left the church with a spring in my step.