A Travellerspoint blog


August 16, 2008

I am thinking about the blog. It is surely different from my gornal. This year, for the first half of the trip, my journaling had to be done longhand and then entered at the Englilsh library in marathon sessions on an Italian keyboard. It did not enhance my creativity. For the second half of the blog, I was unable to get to an Internet site, so much of it was done well after the fact, from notes once I got home. Also, not an enhancement to creativity. I think I prefer the "in the moment" gornaling. Those of you that read both can let me know what you think.

As I finish this diary of sorts, thoughts are swirling....in alliterative groups of 3, as it happens..........

Paciano, Pienza and prosciutto. Beaches, balconies and Bevagna. Montepulciano, music and the Mediterranean. Reticulata, Roma and really dirty feet. Fiats, Florence and finiculars. Sfuzo, statues and Strada Panora Mica. Cinque Centos, chingale and Chuisi (couldn't resist, Dan and Lylaine).

But those words do not begin to describe the joy and importance of the past 5 weeks. My joy comes from spending more time with my son, Ben, than I have had an opportunity to in years. It comes from reconnecting with Constance and Dan and coming to know and love Lylaine. It comes from watching my dear friend, Kathy dance on the balcony and my dear friend, Jim delighting in panzanella. It comes from having Bob at my side (or more accurately several steps ahead of me). It comes from having yet another opportunity to see Italy through Suzy's eyes. She takes an already glorious experience and makes it even grander through her generosity of time and knowledge. It comes from knowing that Betta has gotten a "real" job and that Rina took the time to crochet something beautiful for me. It comes from connecting through the people and culture to my Italian heritage.

It comes from knowing that I have these special people in my life, and I am thankful.

(Maybe next year, Andy?)

Posted by Allegra51 20:10 Comments (0)

How much more of this...

...beauty and history can we take?

Our trip from the Forum to the Borghese is a story in itself, but let's leave that one for when you and I talk. It will be much better with gestures.

Our final night in Rome has arrived and we are hot, tired and our butts are dragging. The Caesar Shuffle has all but done us in, but we soldiered on. At the gate to the grounds, Bob bought a beer and I bought an orange soda and we tried to rally. My vision had been to arrive at the grounds with time to wander leisurely through the park in the shade of the trees, stopping to admire the statuary and fountains. Ahhh.......................no. You must make an appointment to visit the museum and we had made ours for the last 2 hour time slot, which was fast approaching. We had about 30 minutes, and so we took our time walking to the museum, enjoying the shade and sights visible in the park from the main "road". The gardens are welcoming and peaceful. Just what the doctor ordered.


By the time we got to the villa, my attitude was far more relaxed and I thought I was ready for what awaited.



We entered but had about 20 minutes to wait. It was a welcomed opportunity to sit. As I sat, I glanced at my feet. I am not exaggerating when I say that they were black with the dust of of the Colosseum and Palatine! Right on time, we were summoned for entry for our 2 hour visit.

We were shown to a stairway.............a steep stairway...............a long, steep stairway. My black feet carried me to the top and we entered the painting rooms. The guide book had said, "What the Borghese lacks in size, it more than makes up for in quality." This being our expectation, we were stunned to find room after room after room of artwork. The museum is housed in the Borghese Villa and it is not small. Every room was filled with extraordinary paintings, some small sculptures and stunning ceilings (sometimes with framed works and sometimes painted). In one room, Bob noticed a remarkable example of trompe l'oeil on a ceiling. At first, it was difficult to tell whether the figures and embellishments were dimensional or painted. In another room, there was a framed piece on the ceiling that was nearly as large as the room. The museum is a feast for the eyes at every glance. One of the things that impressed us both were 3 mosaic pieces that defied imagination. The pieces were so small and the work and shading so fine, that the fact that they were mosaics was practically undetectable.

The single critique we had of the painting section was that since the rooms are small and the lighting natural in most cases, it was sometimes difficult to really see the paintings' details due to glare or closeness. We proceeded to the statuary.

Upon entering the statue hall, I got chills. The room through which you enter is large and grand and filled with magnificent sculptures. The sight of them literally stopped me in my tracks and I took a moment to catch my breath. Once again, unlike the guide book description, we found the sculpture area quite large. Both Bob and I appreciate sculpture, and we were thrilled with the exhibits. We walked, overwhelmed, from one room to the next and with each new room, there was yet another stunning "favorite". But when we saw Bernini's Apollo and Daphne, we agreed that it was the highlight of the visit. Suzy added to our amazement with the work by explaining that the piece was recently cleaned. Daphne's fingers are so finely carved that when the workers cleaned her fingers, they rang like fine crystal. Think of it.

Cameras are not allowed in the museum, so the following picture was taken from a web article about the piece. The link follows the photo:



Borghese, Bernini and Bobby..............the perfect ending to my better-than-dreamed-of vacation.

PS-Pretty fancy company, Kranz.

Posted by Allegra51 18:57 Comments (0)

Caesar Shuffle...

I was sweating within 3 minutes of leaving the B&B

Rome is overwhelming, even if you are visiting for a year. I knew that I had planned a full itinerary, but had hoped to have some down time just to let it all sink in. Ahhhhh..................no. Get a move on! There are ruins with your name on them, Bob!

We began at the Colosseum (again). Actually, our time there was quite laid back. It was early enough in the day that there were not that many people, the temperature had not yet reached "broil" status and there were lots of opportunities for shade along the way. There is little you can say to describe being in the Colosseum. I am not going to try. Below is a picture I took inside:


A link to better pictures than I could manage:


And a link to history:


The same can be said for the Palatine Hill and Forum. These ruins are indescribable.



I must make a confession here. We didn't actually "do" the Forum. By the time we had trudged up and around the Palatine Hill (once completely covered with a palace all the way from the Forum to the Circus Maximus) we couldn't face the Forum. I snapped some pictures, pointed out a couple of highlights and we crawled, whimpering toward the Metro for the Borghese.



Posted by Allegra51 18:22 Comments (0)

We are going to...

...kick Rome's butt!

Ahhhhhh...........................no. Rome in August. One word comes to mind. HOT!!! I knew it was going to be hot in Rome, but I'd taken, what I thought was adequate steps to minimize the discomfort. Ahhhhhhh............no. Still, we moved forward with another semi-plan:

Bus tour for overview and hop on hop off convenience.
Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Forum
Vatican (maybe not touring inside)
Piazza Navona
Borghese Grounds and Museum
Moonlight Rome walk

Of course, the bus tour was to be first. We had bought tickets for the Colosseum, Palatine and Forum online and they were good for 8/4 and 8/5. The plan was to see the Colosseum on 8/4 in the evening followed by the moonlight walk (since we didn't do it on 8/3) and then do the Palantine on 8/5 and finish with the Borghese on 8/5 in the evening. Good plan. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.................

We went to Termini and signed onto a tour. It was the Christian Rome tour. Why, you may be asking yourself, did we sign up for the Christian Rome tour when we are not, as mentioned previously, church visiting types? I don't have a good answer to that question. I noticed that it stopped at most of the places we wanted to see, so on we hopped.

I think Bob would agree that the circuit on the bus was a good idea. It allowed him to get an overview of the city and its layout as well as offering views of the city you cannot get otherwise. Like the other tour buses, it had recorded information about the sights, and it was good to have that background (minimal, but a good start) information.

We went once around and then got off at the Pantheon/Piazza Navona stop, at which you could see neither the Pantheon nor the Piazza Navona. Did I mention that Bob is not a good navigator.............after a bit of trekking........did I mention it was damned hot.............we arrived at the rear of the Pantheon (not the best way to approach, but blessedly shady). The Pantheon is beyond description when you consider when its origins. We spent quite a long time both inside and outside of the Pantheon, bathed in sunlight streaming through the occulus and enthralled by its history and grandure.


From there, we wandered aimlessly and eventually stumbled into Piazza Navona. As Bob said, "Wow."


We spent some time there soaking in the vitality of the piazza and the beauty of the buildings and, of course, Bernini's fountain before "hopping on" (more accurately, staggering, tired and sweaty toward the bus stop, praying that we hadn't missed it, causing us to wait in the sun for 20 minutes) to visit St. Paul's.

We decided that though taking the Christian Rome tour bus had not been intended, it was worth it just for the stop at St. Paul's Basilica. I had been to Rome and most of the sites we were visiting, I had already visited. I had not, however, visited St. Paul's. The tour bus tape told us that St. Paul's was the largest basilica until St. Peter's was built. The outside of the church is beautiful. Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura — known in English as the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls or St Paul-without-the-Walls is beautiful. The top of the church is painted with a vivid mural and the approach to the church is a welcoming courtyard. As you stand at the entrance, you are treated to large, marble sculptures and MASSIVE doors.



When we arrived, there were only 2 other visitors there besides those attending the church service. We spent over an hour in immersed in the beauty and peace of this special place. Bob decided after the visit that he would not tour the Vatican so that he could relish St. Paul's and not become overwhelmed.

Refreshed by our inspired visit, the cool marble interiors and shaded courtyard, we got back on the bus for our evening Colosseum tour. Plan going well so far................ahh............enjoy it while you can!

One would think that with all of the visitors to the Colosseum, the entrance would be quite well marked. Ahhhhh....................no. After circumnavigating it not once, but twice (did I mention problems with navigation and extreme heat yet?) we discovered that the entrance was not well-marked because it was CLOSED. We missed making our evening tour by 5 minutes. While the Colosseum remains open until 8:30 or so (depending on dusk), it closes at 6 for entry..............sigh. Moonlight walk anyone?

"Screw the moonlight walk. My dogs are barkin' and I feel like I'm in a wet tee shirt contest!"

Plan adjustment...we must now do the Colosseum, Palatine, Forum and The Borghese Grounds and Museum all in one day. So much for kicking some Roman bootie.

Posted by Allegra51 17:22 Comments (0)

August 3, 2008

It is my birthday!

And we have left Paciano for 3 days in Rome before we go home. We got to visit with Betta and Suzy for a bit before leaving for the station. It was a sad leaving for me, so hard to believe that 4 weeks had already come and gone. But I was determined not to let the melancholy of the moment affect the rest of our time in Italy, so once in Rome, and a bit of pouting, I became excited about sharing the city with Bob (a Rome virgin). We were staying near the Coloseo, and so after a bit of a rest, we decided to take a walk over that way. We walked through a lovely park and at the end of the main walkway, rose the Colosseum. It was a wonderful way to be introduced to this magnificent wonder. The light was good for pictures, so we took several before crossing the street (cheated death is more like it) to find a restaurant.


Of course, all of the restaurants along the street are tourist restaurants, but hey........we're tourists. As in the hill towns and other sites we visited, there were few tourists (relatively speaking) in Rome. All of the restaurants had waiters along the street approaching people to entice them to eat at their restaurant. We walked up and down the street and decided on a place. The waiter was adorable. He had spent time in London "With a girl from the North." to improve his English. His English was excellent. He spoke with an Italian/British accent. I joked that he was now back in Rome, but without the girl from the North. He smiled in agreement, but explained that he still had contact with her and that,

"We have a shile." "I am a Dad." His eyes gleamed when he spoke of being a father. A sweet young man.

We discussed the dismal tourist season and world economy and after dinner, he brought us a digestivo. Amaro (roll the "r" please). It is NOT amaretto.........not at all amaretto, admonished our waiter. It had a distinctive, pleasing flavor and was a perfect ending to our dinner.

From the 'Net:

There is no formal definition of amaro, but all drinks bearing that name are made from neutral spirits (vodka, basically) infused with some mix of herbs, spices, roots, and rinds, and they are traditionally consumed after a meal as a digestivo.

The food was as expected, but this, believe it or not, wasn't about the food. I was enjoying this meal on my 57th birthday, with a lousy navigator, but wonderful man in the shadow of the Colosseum and the Palantine Hill at sunset............I'll be melancholy about my waning vacation another day.

Posted by Allegra51 16:47 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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