Mysterious Rome

Halloween in Rome

This past summer during a long and lazy beachside lunch in Positano with friends we had a conversation about what is/was on our list of a perfect partner. 

Humor, intelligence, kindness, blah blah blah. Then the important stuff started to come up at the table full of teenagers. There was talk of specific kinds of shoes and the necessity of liking heavy metal music. My favorite requirement was an appreciation for Rome's slightly ghoulish treasures. 

Whenever we have visitors we embark on what is now a trademarked Longworth McGuire speciality, the Death March of Fun. Interspersed between historic sights, plates of pasta and cocktails in piazzas are visits our favorite relics.

In honor of the holiday All Saints Day, known as Ognissanti in Italian, here are my favorites spots in Rome to find shards of skulls, heads, hearts and bones of saints and monks. 

Skull of Saint Valentine
What is said to be the skull of Saint Valentine, the patron saint of lovers and beekeepers, can be found in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.  After you take your Roman Holiday homage pictures at the bocca di verita pop inside and make a visit to this glass encased relic. In the name of love. 
Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin
Piazza della Bocca della Veritas 18

Papal Hearts
Everyone throwing their coins into the Fontana di Trevi to ensure their return to the eternal city probably has no idea that the church they are facing holds the hearts of 22 popes. The marble urns where the hearts reside are hidden away, but there is a list of the popes to the left of the altar.
Santo Vincenzo e Anastasio a Trevi
Vicolo dei Modelli, 73

The Head of Saint John the Baptist
Across from one of my favorite shoe stores in the Tridente shopping area of  Rome is a small door that is usually open just a crack.  The side chapel of San Silvestro in Capite has what could be the skull of Saint John the Baptist.  Churches in Syria, France and Germany also make the same claim. 
via del Gambero. 

Cappucin Crypt
At the beginning of the once glamorous via Veneto is what might be my favorite attraction in Rome. The bones from more than 3,500 monks have been used to create unforgettable and beautiful mosaics, chandeliers and dioramas that are on display in three small rooms to the right of the main church. It is a mesmerizing mediation on impermanence. 
Via Veneto, 27

Halloween in Rome

Halloween in Rome


  1. So the real question is where were you having your long lazy lunch in Positano? :-)
    215 days until I am back on the favorite terrace!

  2. @Engred I think that day was is was Da Ferdinando in Fornillo. I too am dreaming of long sunny days on this most blustery Roman evening.


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