Sorry to disappoint you folks but there is no Halloween in Rome. One or two clubs advertized Halloween fancy dress events but this was about it. The only sign of carved pumpkins was at a Sunday market stall in Neri just outside Rome but I think this was a tourist attraction. However, the day after on November 1st was All Saints Day or Tutti i Santi which is a national holiday in Italy. Dedicated to honouring early Christian matyrs, it used to be celebrated on May 13 until Pope Gregory III changed the date to November 1st to coincide with the foundation of an oratory at St. Peter’s Basilica to house the relics of saints and martyrs.
We did not know that on this day, it is traditional for families to go to the cemetery to lay flowers and light candles at the gravesides of their loved ones. We took it into our heads to visit Rome’s Campo Verano cemetery which we had heard was beautiful. We got there to find a crowd outside. Apparently the Pope was due to arrive, the first time in over 20 pope years since a Pope has set foot in the cemetery. Meanwhile, people were visiting graves and laying flowers.
The cemetery contains a number of large mausoleums some with photographs of the deceased. I found it quite fascinating seeing these snapshots of history with the remains several generations in the same tomb. The cemetery dates back to the Napoleonic invasion between 1804 and 1814 when a law was passed that Rome’s dead had to be buried outside the walls except for popes, cardinals and royalty. There is a Catholic section and a Jewish section. Non-Catholics are buried in another cemetery next to the Piramide (In Memoriam). We did not wait for the Pope but seeing he lives a stone’s throw from us, we saw his motorcade on the way home!
Although we are into November now, the weather is still gorgeous. In the low to mid 20s with sunshine and cloudless skies. Last weekend, we were in the hills just outside Rome. There were sheep and a few lambs grazing in the fields as well as horses and foals. The leaves were beginning to turn but the landscape still looked green and more like spring. It surprised me to see lambs at this time of year as I thought they were born in the spring but apparently this can vary with the breed and can also depend on whether or not the rams are left with the flock. Something new to learn everyday!