Rome, The Eternal City….
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.
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!
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!
This is on my side of the river too, the Castel St Angelo. I haven’t gone into either of these places or read about them yet because I was headed for…
…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 statue of Neptune in the northern fountain, the work of Antonio Della Bitta, was added in 1878 to make that fountain more symmetrical with La Fontana del Moro in the south.”
I had to mess with this to get the images visible, frescos from way back when.
Sant’ Andrea della Valle. I went into two-three-four other FABulously decorated churches.
“…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.”
…walking. Mighty gaga.
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?
The Colosseum. When I first got off the bus and turned to face this building it was quite powerful. It gives the impression of great power even in this broken-down state.
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)
The excavated Forum has revealed structures from many eras and there are plenty more to come.
Just to name a few: The Temples of Vesta, Antoninus and Faustina, Saturn, Castor and Pollux, and Romulus; The Curia; Arch of Septimius Severus; Column of Phocas; House of the Vestal Virgins; and more.
I remember these coconut fountains from the last time I was in Italy. Yum-EEE eaten with delight and without regard to the fact that fresh raw coconut is 79% fat. It’s the good fat…
More from the Forum.
“Originally considered among the wonders of the Classical world, Trajan’s Markets now show only a hint of their former splendor.”
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.”
This is a view from the steps of the memorial to The Unknown Soldier and it is massive, monumental, heroic. I see I haven’t chosen a direct picture yet so that’s for later.
I’m standing on the steps of a small church to take the picture above, and this is part of what’s inside that church, a golden mosaic.
Behind every door…
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.
It was mostly funny and were it not that we had sent the girls off to stand on a corner in a traffic-bound round-a-bout…but I leap ahead.
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.
I am sitting in the back, mostly cracking wise, but Mostly minding my own business as M and P negotiate our route.
A break from the story now to admire Modena which we all agreed was a major find.
The whole downtown ‘old town’ area was in such good shape including fresh paint, fresh windows and doors that clearly open easily and close tightly but maintain all the charm of an old town.
“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.
“The building of a great cathedral in this flood-prone ravaged former center of Arianism was an act of urban renewal in itself, and an expression of the flood of piety that motivated the contemporary First Crusade.”
More of the Plaza Grande with the cathedral behind me.
We get our car and hit the road for our ‘journey’ back. We do make it to the highway with only two (or so) wrong turns. Now we’re feeling pretty good… until… STOP, the traffic STOPS, then it GOES, then it STOPS until finally it DEAD STOPS.
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?!
Finally we called the girls again and suggest they just start walking until they find a bar and we would Eventually arrive. Which they did, and which we Eventually did too…
…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…
Back at the Villa…
…we were all practicing our firelight shots.
Morning at the villa where MHPC have spent the last week.
That’s the place, up on the hill. Doesn’t it look like they spent a week in a movie?
I came home to find one of Gene’s two cats happily snoozing away in a nest he’d made on my suitcase. I’m really enjoying having cats around again!
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.
Pigeons, and kids, and the inevitable kids chasing pigeons.
There’s that window with the banner.
The crowds were large but the place wasn’t packed by any means. You can see the signs groups were carrying trying to get The Pope’s attention. Hello! Hellooo!!
Some guys hang the banner, then we wait until exactly 12:00 noon when The Pope appears. A helper is putting notes on the podium.
I got it…The classic Pope in a window pose!
(Not that great, I know, full on zoom, then full on computer blow-up. You can tell by the scene at the Square how far away I was.)
ooops, don’t remember… Church after church after church…
After my audience with The Pope I struck out for the Pantheon.
Soon after leaving Saint Peter’s I ran into a modern art exhibit that was being held in a restored medieval hospital.
It was a lot of fun.
It turns out there were a dozen venues showing modern/contemporary art around Rome but today was the last day.
On the one hand too bad that I didn’t get to see more and on the other hand I’m glad to have stumbled upon one.
Passing by a generic Bar/Restorante of which there are 10,000.
The Pantheon. That was nice that they had scaffolding on only half.
Constructed in 126AD it is the “largest unreinforced solid concrete dome in the world and the archetype of Western dome construction to this day” and in continuous use since it was built.
It was interesting although not as fantabulously decorated as most of the churches…
…like this one for example, and the zillion more, a few on every corner.
And then on to the Trevi Fountain. Oh Em Gee that place was a Mad House.
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…
I was standing up there to get the other shots where you can’t even see that the people are not just on one level but there are Bleachers around the entire fountain!
I had a happy Happy Hour dinner. For five euro you could eat all you wanted of the not-that-great happy hour snacks and get a beverage of your choice. I had a yummy grappa and tasted each of the offerings, of which there were many, not needing to go back for seconds.
And then I got this chocolate and raspberry gelato and for seven euro total I was one happy camper.
Today’s destination: Trastevere and Janiculum. He’s waiting there by the entrance to the neighborhood considered both blue-collar and trendy-hip, what usually happens as the first step to gentrification.
Churches churches churches.
This one is Santa Maria della Scalla. Check out those lighting fixtures around the arch. No matter how many of these fantastico churches I see each one has offered some amazing surprise.
Here’s the landmark of the area, Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere.
The first date of construction was the 340s AD but there was also a lot of knocking down and rebuilding. Now it is most famous for its mosaics including the set along the facade, behind the statues.
These are late 13th-century mosaics by Pietro Cavallini. It is quite fabulous.
Here’s a close-up from the top of the dome, to get an idea of the amazing detail.
This is from a different church, the much more modest San Pietro in Montorio, up at the top of a hill around Fontana dell’ Acqua Paola.
(I need to add a picture of the fountain and of Garibaldi.)
The view from the Monumento a Garibaldi, waay up there, where I Walked up and then walked down too.
The most prominent building is the military museum I mentioned before, with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. BIG isn’t it. I tell its story later.
A few examples of the myriad cafes that surround every square and line every street.
A lot of them designate their toilets with these great paintings.
My lunch. ParTICularly YUM!
One of the many bridges crossing the river and a good example of the handsome trees that overhang the walking path on either side providing oh such welcome shade for the long walk home.
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.
What first was a Roman temple, then recently the Italian Stock Exchange, and now private offices.
“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.
More from the park.
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.
A view along the way. The scaffolded side is probably a match. Through these gates is one of the entrances to the Villa Borghese.
Made during the Egyptian craze of the early 19th Century.
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…
Our first destination, the Spanish Steps.
We both were expecting flowers. The pictures always show flowers on the Spanish Steps, but not today.
This is the third place I’ve seen these teepees. I think it has to do with a book festival that is going on – there was a flyer to that effect.
This caught my eye, but we couldn’t get in, and I don’t remember its name.
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 great Fountain of Tritan by Bernini in the Piazza Barberini.
Wow, a fantastic edificio, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.
Another example of cafe life.
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.
June 3 and 4
Walking along the river on the way to meet Shira for our date to visit the Vatican.
One of the courtyards in the Vatican museums, of which there are many.
Bearing in mind that the fabulously wealthy Vatican has been Rich and Powerful and ‘collecting’ treasure for centuries, it is no surprise that the museums just go on and on and on.
We were awed by the tapestry collection – soo many gigantic pieces of the most amazing detail. How do they DO that? You have to start at one end and work your way up or down and across, however they do it, it’s amazing.