Rome, The Eternal City. I’m staying a few blocks from Saint Peter’s and the Vatican. This is from my balcony – I can see St Peter’s dome!
Mostly Rome, the Eternal City.
Most everything else is on the other side of the river, the Tevere (the Tiber), but buses are plentiful. I think, after having been out for less than five hours, that getting around is going to be a small project – not a problem, just something to think about when thinking about my day.
This is the Piazza del Tribunali off the Ponte Umberto bridge on my side of the river.
Isn’t she grand…monumental even. She’s at the end of the bridge on one side with a similar but different mate on the other.
At the moment I am resting and focusing all my energy to stave off this sore throat that began making himself known to me yesterday due to what I’m sure is an allergy since I actually feel quite well. Go away!
…the Piazza Navona. This very long oval was originally the Stadium of Domitian, built in the first century AD, and the surrounding structures were built in the Baroque period on the ruins of the grandstands.
The playing of this four piece combo, sax-accordion-guitar-bass was so hot and so cool I even dropped money in their gimme box. Whooo.
Every one of these buildings has a story, of course, they’ve been here in this rich capital city for centuries. The central fountain, the “Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) is by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.”
Cannot resist pigeons perched on heroic statues.
“The Piazza Navona has two additional fountains: at the southern end is the Fontana del Moro with a basin and four Tritons sculpted by Giacomo della Porta (1575) to which, in 1673, Bernini added a statue of a Moor, or African, by Bernini, wrestling with a dolphin…
“…the ancient ‘speaking’ statue of Pasquino. Erected in 1501, Romans could leave lampoons or derogatory social commentary attached to the statue.”
“…a battered ancient statue (from a Hellenistic-style group, probably of the 3rd century BC) dug up in the course of paving the Parione district … Cardinal Oliviero Carafa inadvertently gave the statue its first voice, by originating an annual ceremony, the first in 1501, for Saint Mark’s Day, April 25. The marble torso was draped in a toga, and epigrams in Latin were attached to it.”
I’ve been a virtual tea-totaler this last month with the exception of an occasional beer. Now I’m in Rome. Now it’s time for a proper Italian lunch! Not so proper though because when I declined further courses the waiter looked at me with bewilderment like he must have misunderstood.
There is a scale in my bathroom so I stood on it. First let me say that I have walked for HOURS almost every day. I have not eaten more than two meals, or one meal and some street snacks this Whole Time.
So how much do I weigh? MORE than when I left. Is it time to give up yet?
A pano from the inside. It’s an oval, you can see that. All what we are seeing now is the skeleton of the structure. The seats went over the tunnels and colonnades and the stage went over the maze you see on the Colosseum’s floor.
Most people were on the tour to pay the extra 4 euro to skip the line, but still, everyone listened for the whole hour anyway.
“Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. As well as the gladiatorial games, other public spectacles were held there, such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.”
Indeed, the ‘quarry’ idea meant that all the travertine, statues, marble carvings, anything of any use at all was taken to be incorporated into some new construction project.
Copied from a plaque on the tour, about how Vespasian built the Colosseum with booty from the Jewish Revolt (which you now know all about having read the section from my trips to Jerusalem and Masada:
“66AD Revolt breaks out in Judea after a prolonged period of discontent with Roman rule. The Governor of Syria leads an abortive campaign against Judea …
“67AD (the General) Vespasian subdues all the northern territory of Judea.
“69-70AD Propelled to fame by these swift victories, Vespasian is proclaimed emperor by the legions of Judea, Syria, and Egypt. Vespasian goes back to Rome. He leaves the command to his son Titus, with the purpose of conquering Jerusalem, the center of the revolt. During the spring, Titus lays siege to the city. The legions gain control of the city and close in on its physical and spiritual core – The Temple. Once reached the Temple is set ablaze: the fire spreads all over, and Jerusalem is destroyed.
“73/74AD A last stronghold still stands, a desert fortress set on a precipice on the south-western coast of the Dead Sea: Masada. After a long and difficult siege the Roman soldiers manage to break the defenses of the fortress. However, before they break in, the rebels commit mas suicide – preferring to die as free people than to live as slaves.
“Judea is back under Roman rule.”
The Arch of Constantine, erected to commemorate Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312. Dedicated in 315.
Works modeled on, or inspired by The Arch of Constintine: Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Paris, France (1806); Marble Arch, London, England (1828); Union Station, Washington, D.C., USA (1908); American Museum of Natural History, NYC, USA (1936)
Trajan built this column in 113AD celebrating his successful military campaigns in Romania. These are all carefully detailed scenes of the wars.
“The column’s survival was largely thanks to the intervention of Pope Gregory the Great who reigned from 590-604. He was so moved by a relief showing Trajan helping a woman whose son had been killed that he begged God to release the Emperor’s soul from hell. God duly appeared to the Pope to say that Trajan had been rescued, but asked him not to pray for the souls of any more pagans.
“According to legend, when Trajan’s ashes were exhumed his skull and tongue were not only intact, but his tongue told of his release from hell. The land around the column was then declared sacred and the column itself was spared.”
My third dessert of the trip the first two being baklava in Turkey. I’m not a big tiramisu fan actually, and I was about to get the apple tarte but the waitress convinced me, ‘you simply must try our tiramisu!’.
So I did and it was RIGHT up my alley. The custard was so thick and rich the spoon would stand up in it, and the cake was dense and chewy to hold the the whole thing together. Followed by Nap Time.
May 28 and 29
I took the super (super!) early train from Rome to Florence to meet up with Merlyn and Hilda, and Preston and Cherel. The girls were then going on to Milan by train for a shopping tour and I was going with the boys to Modena in their rented car because Merlyn wanted to buy balsamic vinegar at its source.
It is fitting that we should begin this day with the purchase of a map. The quartet of MHPC were staying in a villa forty-five minutes outside Florence yet it took them an hour and a half to find the train station. Hence, the purchase of a map…a map that would prove to contribute to the excitement of the day.
We completely enjoyed three hours in our marvelous destination of Modena that we three MP&P all loved, and six hours in transit for a trip that, were one to make the drive without hesitation, would have taken three hours MAX.
How did we spend those extra three hours? L.O.S.T. It was indeed as mysterious and unfathomable as the tv show. And DEAD STOPPED too, in a highway parking lot.
We’re just lovin’ it on Modena and we haven’t even hit the good stuff yet.
Returning to our story: So we bid bon voyage to the girls, treat ourselves to a morning repast (including my first grappa of the trip), retrieve the car and after innumerable squiggles back and around through town we finally manage to make it to the highway and once settled into highway speed of 100-140 kph, and a mostly uneventful turn-off (this-way…no-that-way…no-no-no-the-other-way), we find a parking garage in Modena.
“The Cathedral of Modena and the annexed campanile are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begun under the direction of the Countess Matilda of Tuscany with its first stone laid June 6, 1099 and its crypt ready for the city’s patron, Saint Geminianus, and consecrated only six years later, the Duomo of Modena was finished in 1184.
Now we’re thinking we’ll never make it back to the train station in time to get the girls because even if the traffic does loosen up we can’t imagine a direct route through the city. So we call the girls and suggest they take a taxi to this big church we found on the map.
Had we ever seen a church in Italy that didn’t have a bar across the street? No we had not. Not until THIS church.
So we’re DEAD STOPPED and feeling quite helpless so we Get Off The Highway thinking to make our way by streets. What WERE we thinking?!
…at this lovely place where we ate dinner.
The one thing I will remember most about this adventure is how cute those boys were. They were so optimistic, it was adorable. Really, we were driving around in CIRCLES for an HOUR and every time we’d make a choice one or the other of them would say ‘I’ve got a good feeling about this’ or ‘Yup, this is the one’ or ‘I’m sure we’re going in the right direction anyway’.
That made the whole adventure fun, for me…not so much for the girls…
Saint Peter’s Square in anticipation of The Pope’s Sunday address.
It’s Sunday and at exactly 12:00 noon for exactly 15 minutes The Pope appears at a window in the Vatican and speaks to the throngs gathered at Saint Peter’s. Since I’m staying right around the corner I could not not go. I had to go.
I got a good spot in the shade with a railing to lean on so I just stayed here. Take note of the tallest building, the top floor, the second window from the right.
My big sister asked me to throw Three Coins in The Fountain, one for each of we three sisters. Dear Sister – I wished Three Coins in The Fountain; I did the fancy visualization trick, my three coins making their way to the magic fountain place. If I happen to be around there again at say, midnight, the crowds might have cleared sufficiently…
June 1 and 2
I took a little electric tram up to the Villa Borghese today, the only public transportation vehicle that can make it through the smallest streets.
It goes slowly and stops a lot so I got some pictures out the window. This is the back of the Pantheon and a Bernini obelisk celebrating some victory or another.
“Piazza Colonna is a piazza at the center of the Rione of Colonna in the historic heart of Rome. It is named for the marble Column of Marcus Aurelius which has stood there since 193 CE. The bronze statue of Saint Paul that crowns the column was placed in 1589, by order of Pope Sixtus V. …
“The piazza has been a monumental open space since Antiquity; the temple of Marcus Aurelius stood here.”
You see this everywhere, people filling their water bottle from a public fountain. You even see people sticking their heads down and drinking directly from the stream of water.
Gene said that all the water in Rome comes from springs, is the best water in the world, and you should feel free to drink any water that comes your way. Seems so many others agree.
At the huge public park that surrounds the Villa Borghese we find the historic Pines of Rome, inspiration for the first section of the 1924 symphonic poems by Respighi.
Speaking of Scipione Borghese and his Villa, “his education was paid for by his maternal uncle Camillo Borghese. Upon Camillo’s election to the papacy as Pope Paul V in 1605, he quickly conferred a cardinalship on Scipione and gave him the right to use the Borghese name and coat of arms.
“In the classic pattern of papal nepotism, Cardinal Borghese wielded enormous power as the Pope’s secretary and effective head of the Vatican government. On his own and the Pope’s behalf he amassed an enormous fortune through papal fees and taxes, and acquired vast land holdings for the Borghese family” and an enormous and idiosyncratic art collection.
They actually make you check in everything, you can carry nothing, when visiting inside the Villa Borghese so no chance to sneak a shot. I couldn’t even find any particularly good ones to steal off the internet.
It was a gorgeous and memorable experience: the statues, the frescos, the paintings, the pure opulence of owning so much art.
Looking down from Pincio to the Piazza del Popolo. Now I am going to walk down there!
The Piazza lies inside the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls, once the Porta Flaminia of ancient Rome, the starting point of the Via Flaminia, the road to Ariminum and the most important route to the north.
Gene said that it was rather recently that this whole area was a car park and now it looks so grand.
In the Piazza del Popolo across from the entrance gate from the Via Flaminia. It was through that gate that Martin Luther arrived in Rome and first came face to face with these two churches.
Two churches. He was so appalled by the extravagance that he decided on the Reformation right then and there – or so Gene told me.
It’s June 2 now and I’m meeting up with Shira! Wow!
Today is Republic Day in Italy, “the day commemorates the institutional referendum held by universal suffrage in 1946, in which the Italian people were called to the polls to decide on the form of government, following the Second World War and the fall of Fascism. With 12,717,923 votes for a republic and 10,719,284 for the monarchy, the male descendants of the House of Savoy were sent into exile.
“To commemorate it, a grand military parade is held in central Rome, presided by the President of the Republic in the role of Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.”
So instead we met at a counter-commemoration put on by 30 or so groups including one in which Gene is a major participant. The event was very lightly attended…
The Bone Church! Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini. Those poeple are waiting to get into the crypt.
“The pope’s brother, Cardinal Antonio Barberini, who was of the Capuchin order, in 1631 ordered the remains of thousands of Capuchin friars exhumed and transferred from the friary Via dei Lucchesi to the crypt.
“The crypt, or ossuary, now contains the remains of 4,000 friars buried between 1500-1870. … The crypt walls are decorated with the remains in elaborate fashion, making this crypt a macabre work of art. Some of the skeletons are intact and draped with Franciscan habits, but for the most part, individual bones are used to create elaborate ornamental designs. …
“A plaque in one of the chapels reads, in three languages, “What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be.” This is a memento mori.”
The big military parade ended here today, where I caught a bus, came home and put my feet UP.
Here’s some of what Ms Wiki has to say about this monument:
“The Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II) or Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) or “Il Vittoriano” is a monument to honour Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy … The monument was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885; … inaugurated in 1911 and completed in 1935.
“The monument was controversial since its construction destroyed a large area of the Capitoline Hill with a Medieval neighbourhood for its sake. The monument itself is often regarded as pompous and too large. It is clearly visible to most of the city of Rome despite being boxy in general shape and lacking a dome or a tower. The monument is also glaringly white, making it highly conspicuous amidst the generally brownish buildings surrounding it, and its stacked, crowded nature has lent it several derogatory nicknames. Romans sometimes refer to the structure by a variety of irreverent slang expressions, such as “Zuppa Inglese”, “the wedding cake”, and “the false teeth”, while Americans invading Rome in 1944 labeled it “the typewriter”, a nickname also adopted by the locals. Despite all this criticism, the monument still attracts a large number of visitors.”
As a visitor you can’t miss visiting it. It’s HUGE, and right in the middle of everything, and soo white.