I am back on the low lounge furniture waiting for our car to the airport. We had a good day yesterday, seeing the market at Campo di Fiore and the Colleseum. It was quite rainy, which made it a bit wearing, but it was still amazing to stand in the midst of the Colleseum and then the Forum, and imagine all that is past. We looked at some columns that were just nubbins of their former selvs, and I tried to imagine if our great buildings are just nubbins someday, what will people speculate about or time and the building s and activities that went on. We met Andrea for dinner and had a delightful, Italian style two hour event. It has been a great trip with my two pals in such an interesting city! Bon Anno! (Happy New Year!)
Sunday we saw a church, had coffee, went to church, had proseco with Andrea, had lunch , saw some more churches, had coffee, saw St. Pete’s at the Vatican, had dinner, and collapsed. There was a great deal of walking.
The Part of the Trip where I am Eating the Dessert of the Day that I Boldly Ordered (and it Might be Prune Pie) December 29, 2013
Anne starts off our tale for Saturday: Today we spent most of the day with Andrea. We met at via Sannio where she helped both Alison and me pick out leather jackets (very reasonable) then we went to St John of Lateran church, had lunch then went to St Paul in Chains to see the Moses statue of Michelangelo. Andrea had never been and wanted to go so it was nice to go someplace new to her.
We went by the Colesseum but it was too late to go in, then we walked to the Tiber Island through the Jewish Ghetto to Largo Argentina and took a cab back to the hotel. As you can imagine, we’re pretty beat, at least I am! We’ve been averaging about 18,000 steps per day according to Alison’s pedometer.
Now back to Eleanor: There are so many churches, and each one is more amazing and ornate than the last. We discussed how this might be, since there are sometimes two churches in less than one hundred feet. Is it because there are so many people in Rome, and at one point church was mandated? Did churches capitalize on all the left over Roman Empire real estate? Fix it up and you can put your church there? Was there competition to build the biggest and fanciest church to show your money and your devotion? Or all of the above?
If find it moving to see so many people coming and looking at these great sights. It speaks well that people are interested in history, I think. I think the most moving artifact we have seen are the chains of St. Paul. It speaks the the reality of the reading we hear in church. I also loved the fountain with the turtles, but that is in the “fountain: non-holy” category.
We enjoyed Andreas company and insight, as she has lived here over 20 years. She works at the church we will attend tomorrow morning, which was the Berry’s parish while they were here.
Now, on to the prune pie. Anne has been quite good with the Italian and and Ali and I get in there and try, but the hard thing is when someone answers a question, and you can’t quite get it all. Thus was the debate when Anne asked about the dessert of the day. We all got “crostada” which we interpreted as “crunchy bread” but even though Anne nodded and smiled at the rest, she had no idea what was on said crunchy bread. Being a person of daring, I decided to roll the dice and went ahead and ordered it. When it arrived, it was not crunchy bread, but a slice of tart with a fruit filling that was very hard to identify. Blueberry? Mince? The closest I could come as a guess was prune, and that was when the wheels came off the wagon at our table. Needless to a say large slice of prune pie could have quite strong digestive effects, so this amused and worried all of us for the rest of the meal. I imagined the staff in the kitchen gathering together as the order came in: “Someone ordered the prune pie, that never happens,” and then sneaking looks at me. Who is this brave señora? It wasn’t until the bill came, that we were able to see the word “visciole” and we used our google skills to find out that is sour cherry.
Good times in Rome. Good times.
“But I wanted Two Flavors of Gelato!” December 28, 2013
Continuing on with Friday: We walked through the gardens and over to the Spanish Steps, where we met Raffaella, a friend of the Berry family from their time living her. She was charming, and we strolled along, popping into a few shops and then to a coffee place for a nice visit. We spent a couple hours there, discussing many things, including the difference between “weird” and “crazy” which is pretty complicated when you begin to think about it. Another walk back to to the metro to say farewell to Raffaella. We then wandered on, stopping into a store occasionally and eventually to a very tiny restaurant where we had some pasta and the most delicious plate of spinach and chicory I have ever tasted. Every next event and sentence seems like it begins the same, “and then we walked some more….and went into more churches” We headed towards a taxi stand that we had used the previous night, that is near the cat sanctuary, and along the way looked for a gelato place, run by a man who was very involved in a phone conversation, which might have contributed to him not understanding that I wanted two Flavors of gelato, and so I just got one cup of chocolate with blood orange, while the other gals were able to successfully negotiate a flavor combo. Fortunately the chocolate blood orange was quite delicious, so it wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened to me. Steps for Friday, over 20,000. Cappuccinos: 9
Wherein the Restaurant Owner Tries to Kill Us. December 27, 2013
Yesterday after negotiating the lounge furniture, we set out for the Piazza del Populo where there was a church with an annual display of 100 Prescepi (nativities). They were made from many different materials my favorite being the one made of knitting needles and embroidery hoops and then the one made entirely of pasta.
We from there down the Courso, which is a long street, seemingly commandeered by pedestrians, though occasionally. Car will roll through. We looked inside several churches, had a few “stand up” coffees, and a gelato and crepe stop. Our ramble ended at the piazza Novono which had many booths with nativity scenes for sale, and we searched to find a match to Anne so she could replace her missing Virgin Mary, and buy some other supplemental pieces. The hallmark of the “prescepi , both here, and two years ago in Spain, is the many side players around the holy family. The whole town is involved and you can buy pieces to represent just about every person and profession.
After enjoy the sights and encouraging Anne to purchase the fishmonger and a small cat to add to her collection, we moved toward an early dinner. Ali knew of a place nearby. That place was under another name, and with the promise of a free glass of champagne, from the manager who was standing outside, we rolled in. The owner was very solicitous, and plied us with large glasses of wine, pressed us to have dessert and then a final gratis glass of limoncello. Stuffed to the gills, we barely escaped with our lives.
Another walk and then a taxi then home. We were determined to stay up til 9 to attempt to not give into jet lag, and I think I made it to about 9:01!
This morning we went to the beautiful Borghese museum, with racks and racks of great sculpture and paintings. Back to the hotel via a grocery store, always fun to look at, where web bought some rolls and meat and cheese for sandwiches which we ate on our little balcony. Now we are about to head out again for a stroll and to meet a friend of AB’s.
Total steps yesterday: over 14,000. Cappuccinos consumed by group: 8.
Italian Furniture is not for Sitting December 26, 2013
Arrived in Rome after a good flight in the high roller section thanks to AB’s many airline points. A quick ride in a hired car to our hotel. Anne is resting and Ali and I are about to go out for a snack. In the lobby of the hotel are very low wide white couches, with a similar low coffee table at a significant distance. We are temporarily confounded by this arrangement. Where does one put their coffee, and how does one get back up?
Layers November 11, 2013
Cold weather requires a lot of clothing. In the morning I put on silk long underwear, stretchy yoga pants (or “soft pants”) as I call them, a fleece top and go down to breakfast. After breakfast, I add a wool shirt or two under the fleece, and swap the soft pants for fleece pants. Sock liners and wool socks go on the feet. The first few days I didn’t add air activated for warmers until mid morning, but then i began to add them at the start of the day because wrestling a polar bear is probably somewhat easier that try to get your boots off and on while on a tiny little bus. Overtop of all of this goes snow pants and a parka and boots There is also a scarf, and, depending on the moment a knit cap, or a knit cap with earflaps and glove liners and mittens When we are going to be out in the wind for a little while, I add the balaclava (head and face mask)
Periodically we will stop and get off the bus. There is much shuffling of gear and finding of mittens, adjustment of jackets etc. Then we get off the bus. Some photograph, some look around. Cautions folk like me check the opposite way everyone else is looking so a bear won’t sneak up on us. Then we get back on the bus. There is much shuffling of gear and removal of mittens adjustment of jackets, etc. Then we settle. Then something else is spotted or another landmark reached, and the cycle begins again.
One traveler briefly lost her camera, but it turns out it had gotten into and inner layer and she found it when she took off her snow pants that night. I myself, when trying to warm my sandwich in between my snow pants and my fleece pants thought I was oh so clever, until I felt it sliding down my leg and had to remove it from the bottom of my pant leg.
So you see, there is lots of entertainment, even when there is no wildlife.