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Rome Reflections Part 3 & 4

Author: Host Ciao
Date of Trip: December 2010

Part 3

It snowed in Rome today! And as I had decided to do, I headed to the Pantheon to see it come into the building. Unfortunately it melted by the time it got very far inside the building, but I think I might just have a flake or so in a picture I aimed very near the top. My computer will tell me when I get home. Anyway I headed back to the hotel and with only a couple of blocks to go snow turned to sleet and then rain and after finding a few slippery spots on thesidewalk I decided to just come back and computerize.

I have now deleted about 250 emails so can comtinue a bit of a report. The day before I went to Florence I had a drive with Rome in Limo to Anzio. I walked near the invasion beach and up to Neros park, which may or may not be where his villa was. Then I visited the American and British Commonwealth World War II cemeteries, both very different and moving. Americas is much more formal, whereas the Commonwealth, which is smaller, has more info on tombstones and lots of arbors with vines. Then back in Rome went to the train station and avoided very long lines by going to a travel agency right next to the lines and buying my ticket to Florencesame price. Finished with two of Romes national museums right by Termini.

Florence was fine. I did the “must” museums, Uffizi and Accademia and also two of my favorites, the Bargello, full of great sculpture, and the Duomo Museum, also with lots of great sights. Of course in Florence as in Rome most churches are full of art too so I made my way to many of the top ones there: Duomo, Baptistry, San Marco (and its museum), Santa Maria Novella, San Lorenzo, and Santa Croce. Also as in Rome i didnt manage everything on my list, but did make it to most. I had my cioccolata calda con pane at Rivoir, hot chocolate with whipped cream, which is a work of art, and I didnàt think to talke a picture of it until the day I notice Rivoir was closed. I ventured across the Arno to the Pitti Palace and to Santa Spirito and to the famous paintings in the Brancacci Chapel in the Carmine church. Ate several times at my old favorite Nutys and at a less lively place Il Caminetto, where I tried Cingahle sauce, aka wild boar. Good eating at all meals. I checked out the Christmas Fair in the Piazza Santa Croce. I had read it was German, but there were also English cheeses, Provence perfumes and soap and a few other non-German booths. Never saw so many sausage booths in a square block area before. I sampled an apple pastry.

No, I wasn’t in Rome for the wild demonstrations after Mr. Burlesconi survived a couple of confidence votes, but I guess there was quite a bit of uproar in Via del Corso, which is only 1 building from the hotel. It didnàt reach the Parlament building, but it was pretty wild according to Andrea at the hotel. I did have three different demonstration in Florence, one by local guides against the governments idea of having national guides. I read an English version of their info sheet and it makes sense. The other two I couldnàt translate the signs well enough. Had a one-day tour to Siena, San Gimignano, and Pisa. It was an excelent tour by a fairly new company called Walk About. I had reserved through City Discovery. I intend to investigate it on line and then will post more info on Independent Traveler. Lots of hills in those first two towns!! And I still go very slowly down.

Back in Rome I had a morning tour to Tivoli yesterday. We wandered a bit in Hadrians Villa and then had free time to go down into the marvelous gardens of Villa d Este. Most of the fountains were working and great to see. Saw a few ice cycles too. Today I headed to Catacomb of San Sebatian, which is less visited and had a tour all by myself. Then I headed to one more World War II cemetery, Fosse Ardeantina, where 350 Roman citizens were executed by the Nazis in retaliation for an a attack by the resistence. They are all buried there in indivitdual graves in the cave where they were shot. Back to hotel and then my venture to the Pantheon. I will end by saying I think I am finally warm. The winds, according to Senor Cini, the owner, are coming down from the hills known as the Roman Castles and that makes the cold worse.

Part 4

Since last i wrote it has warmed up considerably here in Rome, almost to the point of my thinking I should take the lining out of my coat.  Unfortunately the rain continues, and its more than usual I am told. Saturday, the 18th I made my second excursion over to Trastevere.  I walked up the Gianiculum hill to San Pietro in Montorio and ran into a wedding again.  Happened several years ago when I went there.  I ducked in took a picture and left.  This is not like some of the bigger churches where people wander around during weddings.  I went on up the hill to visit the heros of Italian Unification, Garibaldi and friends.  Then I grabbed the little bus part way down and went fountain hunting in the Botanical Gardens and visited the Villa Farnesina with its beautiful frescos.

Sunday was for a couple more museums and churches.  I went first to the Ara Pacis, which is the Peace Altar of Augustus, which is housed in a very modern building, beautiful but doesnàt seem to fit.  I also went to the citys second museum of sculpture, Palazzo Altemps.  Along with a couple of other churches I went to San Luigi di Francese, where there are the three magnificent Carraveggio painting about St. Matthew, some of my favorites.

Monday I went “ruin running”  in the Forum and up the Paletine Hill.  It didnt rain though it threatened thewhole time I was there.  I do like this type of wandering, but for some reason it seems to be getting harder.  At least my legs talk to me more.  And then to add to my legs woes on Tuesday I headed to the Vatican Museums for an 8 am reservation.  I had “done” the early parts last time so I beat it right to the Sistine Chapel.  Though I was not the first person there and I didnt beat the guards this time, being able to enjoy it with only 50 or so people instead of 1000 or so was really great.  I went through two more parts of the Museums and grabbed a panini in the cafeteria.  Then I went to St. Peters.  Of course, I had bought a couple of books at the Museum and had to ask a couple of times to leave the bag, which was heavy, in the package storage.  I guess I looked pitiful enough because he finally took it even though it was not in a back pack or suitcase type bag.

On Wednesday I took a long bus ride out through Porta Pia (one of Michelangelos creations) and beyond to a very nice, very old church, St. Agnes Outside the Walls.  I was able to visit the Catacombs there as well as the church before it filled up with small children for a special Mass.  Even older in the complex is the church of the Mausolelum of Constantia, Constentines daughter.  Its a round church with old mosaics and is most often used for weddings.  That afternoon I rested my legs!
Yesterday, I took the bus as far as I could and then walked up the Aventine Hill to visit several more very interesting churches.  Also visted the park of the orange trees, which are full of oranges right now.  I didnt get to say hello to Keats and Shelley  at the Protestant Cemetery becuase I was running out of time.  Two more people had signed up so my annotated lunch tour with Context had come through.  We met Maureen Fant, with whom I had cooked three or four years ago, in Testaccio.  We visited Volpetti, the top Goumet store in Rome and the big market in that area.  Then we had lunch at Ristorante Checchino dal 1887, one of the best known for the old Roman dishes made from the “fifth quarter,”  the parts of the meat the butchers got to take home. We all had carciofo alla romana, braised whole artichoke, and then we branched out.  I did not try any of the “fifth quarter” dishes since I have eaten tripe before and didnàt feel the need to try anything like it again.  I tried all dishes I had never tried before: pasta e ceci, thick soup of chickpeas and short pasta; braciolette d abbacchio scottadito, grilled baby lamb chops.  We all shared puntarelle con las salsa, a sort of chicory with garlic and anchovy dressing, and broccoletti ripassati, boiled broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic and red pepper.  All in all quite meal with white and then red wine from the Roman area.  Then we shared desserts, an apple cake and a ricotta pie.  The cakes looked more like a pie, not risen much, and the pie looked more like a cake, two inches high with ricotta, almonds, and chocolate.  We all needed the espresso afterwards.  It was a great time.  And, no, I did not eat that night.

This morning I went to a special exhibition at Palazzo Farnese, the French Embassy.  It is seldom open and I had made my reservation a couple of weeks ago.  It was really interesting and beautiful.  Then I wandered the Campo dei Fiori market, bought some apples and had a cafe shakerato, which is cold drink with coffee and Im not sure what else, but its good.  I did not buy any gifts from the stand across from the cafe.  I didnàt think any friend or relative needed an apron or boxers with Davids private parts or an apron of a female figure with two slices of tomato and several basil leaves.  I will leave the placement to your imaginations.

Later today I plan to go to the Presepe Museum, the museum of Nativity scenes.  Then I will go to 7:30 English Mass at San Silvestre, a block away from the hotel.

A presto, Joanie, Joan, Host Ciao

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