We love all our tours like children – equally and unconditionally. But like any parents we recognize that some of them are just different, just a teeny tiny fraction more interesting and personable than the others.
Our Crypts & Catacombs tour is one of those. Starting in the Roman Catacombs, it explores the old Christian burial grounds before going to San Clemente Basilica and climbing from the 11th century to the 1st via some incredibly preserved ruins. The hook at the end of the line is the Capuchin Crypt.
Hidden off one of Rome’s significant piazzas, this tiny space beneath a church is home to the remains of no less than 4,000 Capuchin monks, brought here in 300 carts when the monks moved in. But they aren’t buried under the flagstones – they’re hung up on the walls for all to see. Chandeliers made of vertebrae, a morbid (and literal) coat of arms, a real skull and crossbones and skeletons clad in monks’ robes. At the end is a message to visitors – “What you are now, we once were. What we are now, you will be.” Creepy right?
Well, one of our favorite venues just got better. The Capuchin Crypt has expanded to include a Capuchin Museum now which (hip hip hurrah!), we’ll be visiting on our Crypts & Catacombs tour. The museum has displays of artifacts from the monk’s lives that offer greater insight into what it means to be a Capuchin monk and to swear a life of poverty. The highlight, however, is Caravaggio’s canvas, ‘St. Francis in Meditation’, which now hangs on the wall. Bent over a script and skull, he’s a perfect precursor to what lies beneath.
To support the new museum, we will now be paying €6 admission to the Capuchin Crypt. Unfortunately, we’ve had to add this added cost to the tour price, but we reckon that, with a Caravaggio to show for it, it’s well worth it.
Check out our Crypts & Catacombs tour!