Above is Santa Maria Trastevere where Lynne & Peter got married and where we “lived” during our week in Roma. This piazza (square) is the social, religious, and entertainment center of the neighborhood and it has been this way for centuries. The square and all of the streets leading to it are lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. At night there are street performers and people everywhere! Watch out for pickpockets though. As we were walking from the wedding rehersal at the basilica to the rehersal dinner at the restaurant (the one with the umbrella’s on the right of the photo) a flowergirl “bum rushed” me and tried to get my wallet! The basilica itself has a very rich history. Evidently before Jesus’ birth a natural oil spring appeared here some years before the Nativity. The Jewish community in Trastevere interpreted it as a sign that God's grace would soon flow into the world. Because of the spring, this became a meeting spot for the first Roman converts to Christianity. It is possibly the first church in Rome where Mass was celebrated openly. It was probably built by Pope Julius I (337-352), although tradition claims that it may have been built before 313, perhaps as early as soon after Pope Calixtus' death in 222. It is believed to be the first church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. The present day basilica was built under Pope Innocentius II (1138-1148), out of materials plundered from the Baths of Caracalla (Roman ruins). Beautiful marbles and sculptures can be admired in the portico, as well as inscriptions which originate from inside the basilica or from the catacombs. Saints Callixtus, Cornelius, Julius and Calepodius are interred beneath the high altar. They were moved here from the Cemetery of Calepodius. The crypt was built in the 9th century to hold relics of martyrs from the catacombs, which were threatened by Saracen raiders. In the left aisle is the tomb of Pope Innocent II. he was from the Papareschi family, which was one of the most powerful families in Trastevere. He was originally buried in San Giovani in Laterno, but was moved here after that basilica was damaged by fire in 1308.