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Rome Reflections Part 1 & 2

Author: Host Ciao
Date of Trip: November 2010

Part 1

Sunday arrived around 11 and checked in. Out to walk, the sky was blue. By Pantheon it was raining, no umbrella! Luckily not too hard. In Pantheon I would have like heavier rain to see it coming through the hole in top. 6pm Mass in San Silvestro, a block away English Mass with Phillopino guitar player and choir, great music.

Monday Santa Maria Maggiore area, lots of churches, lots of pictures. Verylong walk in Termini station to find toilet, which cost .80e. Good thing there was a change machine. Ended at St. Peteras in Chains for necessary date with Moses. I did not buy the musical nativity scene though, of course, I know where it is.

Tuesday walked Via Giulia area to CAmpo dei Fiori to visit market (after a couple of churches). Shocked the waiter at a bar I stopped at when I ordered cafe shakerato. “Fredo!??” he said. Si cold I said. Went to Galleria Spada, new for me and excellent.

Wednesday Marvelous Galleria Borghese. Then a fairly successful fountain hunt and walk through the big park. Rested my weary feet and then finished days fountain hunt down Via Babuina to Piazza del Popolo. Through in a couple of more churches

Thursday Vatican Garden tour. Went through much of the museum up into Sistine. In statue gallery Silenus has no fig leaf, the only one around. Stayed a while in Sistine and then had to convice the guard to let me go out thetour entrance to the basilica. I didn’t havemy receipt. I convinced him by showing him the little plastic tie from the ear buds for the guides talk. This took a while then when I was down in thechurch I remembered Ihad the tour confirmation withme the whole time in my purse! Not one of my smarter moments.

Friday Long day bus trip to Orvieto and Assisi. Snow in the mountains above Assisi. Beautiful sights\sites in both towns.

Saturday Half successful. Colonna Gallery which is only open on Saturdaymornings was not open that day. Thoroughly enjoyed Doria Pamphylli Gallery. Palazzo Venezia closed probably because of police blocking streets. There was a student demonstration around the Lateran, which isnot reallynear so who knows why the police near there. Wandered a bit and found acouple of churches open that I had wanted to see.

Sunday great tour of Palazzo Quirinale state apartments. I found the fact on the Internet that you could visit the Presidents Palace on Sunday mornings. I even got in free after I admitted my age. Usually discounts are only for EU citizens. I dropped in on Bernini and Borrowmini in their churches on Via Quirinale, St. Andrew and San Carlow at Four Fountains. Then headeddown the steep Via Sistina to Palazzo Barberini, the antique art gallery. Both museums had great info cards. Though I can read enough Italian to figure out the content of most painting. After a week a general question for ponderingAt what age does it become easier to walk up hills and steps (with a pause for rest after 25 steps or so) than to go down hills and steps? Whatever age, I have hit it as I found out at Vatican Gardens, Assisi streets and Via Sistina in Rome.

Part 2

My second week started with “the mother of all presepi” and continued with “the mother of all police shows”!  The first is the term the guide I had at St. Peteras used to describe the Nativity scene being build in the piazza.  It is covered up until done.  The one they are working on inside had a man up in an extended bucket working on something.  The man on the tour termed this the “holy cherry picker.”  The tour was interesting as was the tour later of the excavations under the basilica.

Tuesday was a bit of a bust with the 118 bus to the Catecombs never appearing after I arrived at the Circus Maximus to wait for it.  Probably got lost in the demonstration by the Colosseum I saw later on TV.  So instead of the Catacombs I wandered the Baths of Caracalla, an old, old church, and the Museum of the Walls.  Finally got a bus to San Giovanni and then one toward the hotel.  An here in arrive the police.  The bus never made it past half way.  We all got out to walk because every entrance into Piazza Venezia was blocked by many police vehicles. As I arrived at Via Corso the police were moving a jeep inch by  inch into the small space left between two large vehicles.  They were blocking the area to pedestrians including a few with suitcases who had probably had toleave taxis or buses to try to get to hotel.  Not this way.  Luckily I knew the “back way” to my hotel.  So I set off past some churches, past the Trevi Fountain and the abomination of a two stroy ugly McDonalds 2 blocks from it.  I could see that all the side streets were blocked leading to the Corso.
I arrived at Piazza San Silvestro, a block from “home”  only to find 5 or 6 policemen and a couple of vehicles keeping me from going down thje street.  I kept saying Hotel Parlamento.  They kep sayiing no with 3 or 4 trying to tell me something at once.  Finally as I kept saying hotel, an officer looking type said “Hotel Parlamento?”  I said “Si”  and he let me go.  I expect they thought I wanted to go to the parlament building which is across the street.  Who knew that Rome had so many different police types?  Anyway one of thehotel guys who is no fan of the 1st minister who likes young girls said it was a show to prove he could keep all the demonstators away  from the parlament.  I think he might be right because I sure didn’t see anyone anywhere near the parlament building.

Wednesday I went on one of my side trips to Bomarzo, the Monster Park, a park full of strange statues, paths, steps and sights.  It is also called a sacred wood so whatever gods hang out there were kind.  It stopped raining because I couldnàt have handled an umbrella, a camera and the steep paths and steps. Also went to Villa Lante, with beautiful fountains. All in all a veryworthwhile day though not cheap.

Thursday bus and Metro took me to the EUR area and an old abbey, Tre Fontane, very peaceful, quiet and beautiful.  This is where St. Paul was beheaded and supposedly his head bounced three times and three fountains came up.  However, the fountains are much older than 2000 years.  Visited the three churches.  Then went ot St. Paul Outside the Walls, and a museum where theancient statues and pieces of same are displayed among the huge old machines of the first power plant.

Visted all three levels of San Clemente on Friday and also a round church with rather gruesome scenes of martyrdoms.  In afternoon did Secret Rome tour, which went underground at two churches with excavations underneath.  Saturday I had to give up part of plans.  There have been times I have had to admit I am not going to be able to do all I planned.  Did see the marvelous Etruscan Museum at Villa Giulia.  Sunday’s Angels and Demons tour was OK, but a lot of walking because we had to do some back tracking because Mass times had changed in a coupld of thechurches we visited.  Plus a lot of up hill climbing to get to top of Castel San Angelo.

Now yesterday was great fun.  I went cooking with Chef Fabio and a couple from Arizona.  We shopped and then went to his country home in an old Etruscan town.  It is amarvelous place.  We made two kinds of pasta, ravioli stuffed with ricotta and artichoke, and pici, a kind of thich twisty noodle with a sauce made of broccoli Romana, which looks much more like a green pointed head of califlower, and sausage.  Both sauces were made with the water the vegetables had beencooked in for extra flavor.  We also had freselle (fritters) made with the left over butternut squash filling from theravioli in theprevious days class.  With two chicken legs he showed us how to first make red wine sauce with the lower legs and some vegetables.  Then we pounded the boned thighs thin and ended up with four rolls stuffed with speck and provolone and wrapped in speck and also several pieces he fried in butter and home made bread crumbs.  For himself he baked acouple of pieces and also ate about two thirds of the broccoli.  He has had a nutritionist tell him what to eat so he doesn’t gain weight.  And, of course, we drank wine!  We left his fantastic house and went to an old hill town where most houses are used as weekend homes.  We tramped some real hills in both towns.  And after the tour Sunday and the walking Monday, my legs were talking to me.  I guess you can probably figure out I didn’t bother with any supper

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