Saturday, March 28, 2015

Museum of Villa Torlonia

      Today was filled with sunshine; it had to be at least seventy degrees outside.  The parks were full of Romans enjoying the day off and a rare day of sunshine.  I do think that Spring has arrived for Easter week.  We had a long day today, the pedometer said we did 7.26 miles!  We started about 10:30 am on the Metro heading towards the Museum of Villa Torlonia. 
We got there the hard way by Metro to Termini, walked about six blocks and then caught a very narrow gauge tram...only one seat on each side of the Porte Maggorie.  There we took Tram # 8 to our destination that was just one block past a metro station; yes, we could have done it much easier if we'd just stayed on the Metro.  The villa was located a few blocks from the tram inside of a large park that was filled with people enjoying the sunshine.  We enjoyed a free exhibit in the theater building of costumes and then walked to the main house for a tour.  The art was mostly modern, but some of the frescos on the walls were lovely.    What enticed us to see this house was the fact that in 1925 the Torlonia family invited Benito Mussolini to rent the property, which he did until 1943 when he was killed.  During the time he lived here he built an air raid shelter in the basement.  When the Americans arrived they used this property and after the war the State acquired the property.  I wouldn't add it to your must see when in Rome list; but a nice addition if you've lots of time while you are here.

     Back on the tram we continued for three stops to the Buenos Aires Stop; jumped off and decided to take a look at the church rummage sale that was going on in their parking lot.  One unusual item was a table full of white shirts from America?  Also they had a huge selection of fur coats.  Fun to look but nothing special enough to carry home.

  A few blocks down the street we located the buildings that we'd come to see.  A collection of buildings in varied architectural styles that was started by one man and it is called the Quartiere Coppede.  Something free to do in Rome!  There was even an embassy in one of the buildings.

     Back on the tram but just to the Metro Station where we rode back to Termini, switched to A Metro and got off again at Lepanto Station.  We walked from there to Ponte Cavour to find what I think is the smallest museum in all of Rome.  It's a museum about purgatory.  We found it but the doors were locked.  Finally on our bus #49 from Cavour Plaza we headed home about four o'clock. 

   Once home Jim got on the internet and discovered that the church would open at 5 pm.  We fixed and early dinner and got back on the bus to Cavour Plaza.  There we found the church open and the little museum.  They were faded copies of items that had purportedly been touched by people who were in purgatory.   There were black fingerprints on them.  These people were asking for prayers to help them get to heaven from people who were still alive.  It took all of five minutes to see and then we walked all the way to Ponte Umbertic and then into the center of old Rome where we attended the six o'clock Mass at Saint Ignazio di Loyola Church.

   It is a beautiful church and we enjoyed the Passion read in Italian before receiving olive branches instead of palms for Palm Sunday.  The church can hold well over a thousand I'm sure but there were only twenty five of us attending mass. 

     Back on the bus with many others we stood in the aisle all the way back to the apartment arriving home just before eight o'clock.

    We enjoyed our dessert of an apple, wine and chocolate along with a game of Hand and Foot cards.  This is the third time that I have typed this journal tonight...I lost the first two when I hit the wrong keys just as they were about finished.  Hope you've enjoyed the story.

Link to Picasa Photo Album

Friday, March 27, 2015

Palazzo Barberini and Palazzo Corsini

The morning was overcast but dry; but we still carried our umbrellas which was a good thing as about three o'clock we had to use them for about half an hour.  It gave us some glorious skies about six o'clock when we were at the Spanish Steps.  We did 7.1 miles today! 

     But back to our morning that started about ten o'clock as we climbed aboard the Metro for our short trip to Barberini Station.   The walk to the Palazzo Barberini was short and soon we were strolling through another beautiful palace filled with wonderful art and statuary.  Yes, there are three Caravaggio painting here but one of them is on loan at this time so we only saw two of them.

     After about an hour we were out the door and back on the Metro to Termini where we switched to bus #40 for our trip to the tram #8 that would take us across the river to Trestevere.   On the bus I had an opportunity to talk with a group of five seminarians from the USA; they were surprised when I asked them about their daily morning walks to different churches for Mass during Lent.  We had planned to do some but so far have not gotten up early enough in the morning to join them.  There is a permanent list of different churches for each day in Lent.  The priests and seminarians who are living in the Pontifical North American College in Rome during Lent call this their "The Stations of the Cross" and walk from the college each morning to the various churches.  Some of them are up to five miles away and they leave on their walk...rain or sunshine...about six o'clock each morning.

  We hopped off the bus and started walking as we waited for the tram and finally decided to walk all the way to our next adventure at the Palazzo Corsini; a huge old palace built somewhere around the eighteenth century on the site of a fifteenth century villa.  Again, an adventure in fabulous rooms competing with beautiful paintings and some sculpture but mostly painting. There was only one Caravaggio and it was out on loan to another museum. 

    By now it was 1:30 pm and we rushed to the nearby Villa Farnesina just in time before it closed at 2 pm.  It is a small villa so it was easy to visit in half an hour; good art but the walls were what was so great; frescoes everywhere.   You'll love the photos in the slideshow.  The builder of this villa was Agostino Chigi who was the banker for Pope Julius II and became very wealthy.  During parties he would have his guests throw gold plates out of the windows from the top floor into the Tiber River that flows directly behind the villa to demonstrate his wealth.   They didn't know that he had servants with nets to catch them down river.

Walking slowly back towards the river we again crossed the foot bridge at Ponte Sisto to the east side of the swollen river and continued walking north.  We finally agreed to catch a bus that took us along the river to Ponte Cavour where we jumped off to walk over and see the very modern glass structure that houses the very ancient Altar of Peace from the year 9 B.C.   Built and used by Augustus to make sacrifices to the gods.  His tomb is across the street.  We took advantage of the huge glass windows and viewed it from outside; the lines were long and the price was at 14 euros because of a special exhibition.  The site is called:  Ara Pacis Augustae.

     It was starting to rain as we walked across the Ponte Cavour towards our bus # 49 that soon took us home in time for our last trip to the grocery store for supplies for our final two days in Rome.  Since it's Friday we decided to have some fun and at five o'clock we used the Metro to go to Spagna Station where we walked the short distance to the McDonalds for Fish Sandwiches.  They've totally remodeled the restaurant that has been there for at least twenty five years.  Downstairs is now devoted to a very fancy McCafe and the food is all upstairs where there is seating for four hundred.  A woman with perfect English by the name of Jacqueline waited on us and was wonderful.  It was a great experience and when we returned to the Metro the Spanish Steps were ablaze with wonderful lighting from the storm clouds mixed with the slowly fading sunlight.   Each photo was different!

     Soon we were home and enjoying a bottle of wine, fresh pears and chocolate for dessert as I typed this blog and Jim researched tomorrows activities.  So until tomorrow....

Link to Picasa photo album

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Walk through Trastevere

The weather cleared and although we carried umbrellas, there was no rain during our outing today.  However, the Tiber River is very high and all of the walkways along the river are covered with water.   We started the day by taking a load of laundry to the shop on the corner; for only nine euros they will wash and dry them for us today.  We picked them up after we returned home and they were all very nicely folded and bagged in a clear plastic bag for us.

     When we reached the bus stop for # 46 at 10 am the local police were busy towing a cute little car that was parked too long on the busy street!   It kept us occupied while we waited for the bus.  Soon we were at Piazza Venezia and there we hopped on the #8 tram that took us across the Tiber to the very old area known as Trastevere.   When we first started coming to Rome this area was not recommended for tourists and definitely not after dark.   Today it is very popular to visit the old churches in the area and walk the ancient streets.

First we visited the Basilica Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of the oldest churches in Rome.  In the piazza outside near the fountain we stopped and listened to a woman who played on her cello for those that gathered around the fountain.   We practiced with our selfie stick...see the slideshow and even did a short video before walking into the church to enjoy the beautiful mosaics and paintings inside of the church.  Yes..we added a coin to her bucket!

Our second stop this morning was at San Crisogono where we saw the body of Saint Anna Maria Taigi in a side chapel.  Not too unusual to find these in churches in Europe.

 From there we walked to the Church of Saint Cecilia.  She has an unusual story in that she was a secret Christian and on her wedding night told her husband about her secret and also that she wished to remain both a Christian and to remain chaste!  Eventually he also converted and they were both killed defending their religion.  Beautiful church and along the top of the walls you can see the passages for the cloistered nuns to view the Mass while remaining hidden behind the screens.  Beautiful mosaics and paintings.
The statue of Cecilia under the altar is said to represent the form they found her body in when they opened her tomb just before it turned to dust.

     Walked along the Tiber River to the bridge that took us to the island in the center of the river.  There we visited St. Batholomew's Church  and then started across the pedestrian only bridge when Jim was stopped by a vendor who wanted him to purchase a black bag for forty euros.  Within minutes Jim had made a purchase for fifteen euros.  No bad, but real leather?  I don't think so.

     We viewed the Jewish Synagogue from the outside and started through the Jewish Ghetto.  Mostly stores, restaurants and a few authentic Kosher Restaurants.  We hadn't gone far when Jim got sidetracked by some ancient roman ruins that we began walking through.  By this time I would have given five euros for a toilette; but what we finally did was enter a bar when Jim purchased a soda and I used their facilities.  It had been a long morning; by now it was after one o'clock. 

We tried to get back on track with the Jewish Ghetto but eventually changed and looked for the bus that would get us to the church of Santa Mari in Cosmedin Church that has the famous Mouth of Truth in the entry.  We had to stand in line to give it a try; Jim had me take a second one with a surprised look on his face and his hand missing!   Lots of fun and the church was very interesting also.

     We caught the bus back to Piazza Venezia where we entended to call it a day but then changed our minds and climbed the steps up to the Musei Capitolini.   An expensive museum but huge and impressive.  Both art and statues.  The building, like many of the museums, was originally a palace and also incorporates parts of the early Roman Forum.  This museum dates back to the middle of the eighteenth century.  Yes, it had one Caravaggio painting!

     Back to the bus and home before four o'clock.  Another long day with 5.12 miles logged on the pedometer on the cell phone.  And no rain yet!  Jim is already busy looking for new things to do tomorrow on the Internet.  So even if it rains tomorrow the plan is to get out there!  Monday will be here before we know it!   What happens on Monday?  We leave Rome and travel to Florence.

     Hope you enjoyed our journey today....see you tomorrow...

Link to the Picasa Photo Album 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Villa Medicis in Rome

   The beginning of our slideshow today features my first use of the Selfie Stick; we practiced last night by using the auto timer and did great.  I think I'll save the bluetooth part until after we get home.  Also you'll see a touch of  Eastlake high above our kitchen sink...they've done a great job adding decorative touches to the apartment.

     We woke to pouring rain and news that it was going to last all day and that there would be wind to deal with also.  But, we were still out the door by ten o'clock for our adventures planned for today.  Yes, I'm still wearing my sandals with socks....I'm wet instantly....and Jim is dry and warm inside of his wonderful shoes that he inherited from his brother-in-law John.  They're an expensive pair and well worth whatever they paid for them!  I thought about my tennis shoes but decided to stick with my sandals.   And, once home, they dry rapidly for the next day!


Our first stop on the Metro was at Barberini where we walked directly into the Capuchin Crypt and church.  The photos from the Crypt are taken of post cards as we were not allowed to take photos inside.  Amazing...totally different from what I'd expected.  Bones were used to create art!  And for an extra bonus; there was a painting by Caravaggio in the Crypt.  We spent some time in the church admiring the beautiful paintings and a place to while away some time as we were early for our next adventure.  I noticed that the church has padded kneelers that automatically fold up when not in use so that no one steps on them!  Very creative!

  By half past eleven we were back out in the rain to the nearby Metro Stop; once on we got off at the very next stop of Spagna and rode the elevator from inside of the Station to the top of the Spanish Steps.  From there it was only a short walk to the former Medici Villa that is now owned by the French government and is known as the Academie de France a Rome.  I was wrong yesterday when I told you how Napoleon acquired this property; when the last of the male Medici family members died the property was sold and he purchased it.  Then he donated it to the French Government.   In 2009 we learned today; the government decided to let the public have more access to the property.  They now rent rooms to a few guests and have instituted tours for the public.  They still have about twenty artists that live on the property with their families while they produce new art for the world.
There is an English Tour at noon every day.  We really enjoyed our tour through the gardens and into a select series of rooms in the tower. We also visited beyond the garden a retreat that had been built in a quiet area for study and contemplation in the 1500s.   In 1985 they discovered under whitewash paint in these two small rooms, remarkable painting by Jacopo Zucchi in the sixteenth century.  Because of the rain the guide was allowed to also take our small group of six into the Grand Salon that is not normally on the tour.
Beautiful tapestries from the fifteenth or sixteenth century that have recently been completely restored decorated the walls.  But best of all for me was the view of Rome from the balcony...we were not allowed to step out onto the balcony, only enjoyed the view from the window.   What a sunset that view would be on a good day!  The doors into the room are original and in the lower corner of one was a small door for the cat to go in and out of. 

     Thoroughly soaked we jumped back on the Metro for a fast trip home.  Lunch, dry clothes and we were back out in the rain.   This time we took the bus # 46 and headed for the area around  Largo di Torre Argentina where we had about three blocks to walk to the Crypta Balbi.  Yep...the final free museum using the ticket that we purchased on Sunday!  We'd managed to use all four within the required four days!

   The Crypta Balbi was very interesting; various building were built on this site from the fifth century including a theater at one time.  Many historical pieces of information and several floors above the crypt area that housed displays of artifacts found during the archeological excavations.  Something to see on a slow day when you've seen about everything else; but it was fun and challenging to get there on a rainy day!   We walked several blocks over to Via Venezia where we caught the #46 bus towards home.  Everything we had with us was soaked by the time we arrived home. 

     The evening was spent in a very warm room drying out our clothes and things while we searched the Internet to find a new lodging in Paris.  Seems as though the owner of our apartment had to cancel.  Airbnb is being very helpful and even gave us a few extra dollars to help find a new place at this late date.  We seem to have located a very good one right in the same area and have already been accepted by the owner.   The Internet is wonderful!

     And so another day is over and we're closing this journal.  See you tomorrow.

Link to Picasa photo album

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Borghese Museum

     A glorious day of sunshine here in Rome as we read about friends who spent last night on cots in the airport in Chicago because of snowstorms.  Hopefully they are safely back in California by now.  We headed out the door without umbrellas in our bags about ten o'clock.  Half way to the Metro I remembered my watch and then when we were ready to enter the Metro I realized I'd forgotten my cell phone/camera; Jim waited while I went back to the apartment again.  I found it under the umbrellas that I'd taken out of the backpacks! 
Soon we on our way the Republica Metro Stop where we walked around the corner and visited the Museums of the Baths of Dioclesian.  I walked by this so many times in the past and's a great museum and we really enjoyed our hour.  And, it was free because we discovered that the seven euro ticket that we purchased for the Museum on Sunday is also good for entry over four days to three additional museums.  We did two of them today and will do the other one tomorrow!  What a bargain!  It pays to read the back of your ticket.

About noon we headed for the bus # 910 that took us right to the gates of the entry to the Borghese Museum.  There we picked up our tickets that we'd ordered months ago and then found a place to sit and have a snack while we waited for our entry time at 1:00 pm.  Every two hours they clear the museum and a new group enters for the following two hours.  We also had to check all bags including purses.  They asked if I had a camera when we checked the bags and I said only my cell phone.  He said the rules had just changed and contrary to the signs you are now allowed to take all the photos that you want without flash.  Another WOW for today!
I've been in this museum many times before and I definitely made up for the photos that I couldn't take then during my visit are only going to see a small portion of what I took as there were way too many of them for the slideshow!  Jim was intent on seeing the Bernini sculptures and the Caravaggio painting; he was not disappointed...they were all there waiting for him.   I had fun with my photo shoot!

     Before three o'clock we were back outside and walking through the park all the way to the bluff that overlooks the Piazza dei Popolo and in the distance Saint Peters Basilica.  Had a fun photo of a group of kids taking a group shot with many of them holding their selfie sticks.  I have yet to learn how to use mine but will soon.  They are the rage here in Rome.  Vendors everywhere try to sell you one.  From there we continued to walk towards the Spanish Steps.  Just before we arrived we checked in at the Villa Medici,  now owned by France and is labeled the Academie Nationale De France....Napoleon inherited it when he married into the family and then he gave it to France.  You can only tour it on a tour and the English Tour is at noon so we'll go back tomorrow.

Down the stairs, through the crowds, and then continued walking towards our next museum...yes another free one from Sunday's ticket.   It took us a while and became necessary to use google maps on the cell phone but we finally found it just north of Plaza Navona.  It is called the Musee Nazionale Romano Palazzo Altemps.   Lots of statues and a beautiful restored palace from ancient times. 

On to the next stop even though our feet were barely moving by now.  Very close by was the Basilica of Saint Agostino where we had a beautiful painting by our friend Caravaggio above one of the side altars.  By now my cell phone battery was drained and I attached a power pack to it...worked beautifully and I continued to take photos, etc.  Holding both the phone and the tethered power pack.

     To find a bus home we walked across the Tiber River, walked around the Hall of Justice...a massive building...and on Piazza Cavor we found our bus #49 that would take us home.  Long day.  By the time we arrived home we'd logged 7.20 miles.  Dinner was soon ready and we're enjoying our evening.   Rain is predicted by midnight.

     I hope you've enjoyed our journey today...the link to photos is below:

Link to Picasa Photos

Monday, March 23, 2015

Visiting Cinecitta and the Aqueduct Park

     It's Monday morning and since most of the sites in Rome are closed on Monday we headed back out to the end of Metro A for another delightful day.  The weather was cool and we carried our umbrellas but it's now after 4 pm and it hasn't rained all day....yes...we're back in our apartment after walking five miles per the pedometer.  We started our journey at 10 am and arrived home just before 4 pm.  A full day for us old travelers!  We're looking forward to a nice dinner at home and a good game of Hand & Foot this evening.

It took just over half an hour to travel to the Cinecitta Metro A stop, the second from the last one, and the stop was right outside the door to the large movie studio by the same name that has existed since  before WW II.  It is now being used for television and commercial in addition to movies; both Italian and foreign including many American productions.

     Ben Hur....the remake with Morgan currently in production and since they are using the largest sound stage, Number Five, we could not see inside of it but did walk around
it.  A really large building.   We also got to see the creative arts people..but no photos allowed, making the chariots for the big race scene.   Everything is fiberglass now and stucco...nothing that we saw was real.

     Another film that has just finished and is being released soon, Christ The Lord, had some beautiful outdoor sets that we again were not allowed to take photos of.  But the slide show is full of many old sets including ones used in The Gangs of New York.  The large pool used for the harbor scenes was there and a portion in one corner held a container that will be used for Ben Hur.   Because of cg in today's world they didn't need the huge lake and will add in the background after the filming.

Loved the scenes of Rome and other Italian cities.  We saw the set used for Romeo and Juliet...but the balcony had rotted off!   There was a cathedral that is constantly changed to make it look different, they even used it on a production recently about Assisi.  We had an English Tour for an hour in the back lots and then spent unlimited time in several buildings that gave the historical exhibition over the last eighty years.  We enjoyed the spaghetti westerns stories and of course Federico Fellini was one of their most famous directors.  He used this studio so often for his films that he was allowed to create an apartment in the area of the dressing rooms in Stage Five.  Those are the upstairs windows in my photos.  We were there for over two hours and enjoyed every minute.  Even got a ten percent discount on our tickets because we came out on the Metro. 

After leaving the studio we climbed aboard the Metro for only one stop.  We left the train at Subaugusta Station; used Google Maps to see where the Aqueduct Park was by showing the map to a had the Italian spelling...and she told us which way to go.  Soon we could see the ancient aqueduct in the distance.  It was only a ten minute walk from the station.  They have created a long and narrow park that is a favorite with locals for running and biking.  A golf course borders the far side.  Very impressive and worth the walk to and from.  Soon we were back on the Metro and decided to call it a day.   It looked like rain but so far it hasn't happened.  And we may get lucky again tomorrow when we have tickets for the Borghese Museum.

     Here is the link to the photos:

Link to Picasa Photo Album

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rome 2015 Marathon's the day of the Rome 2015 Marathon and it's raining steady since early this morning.  No problem with over-heating today!   I washed my hair early and we settled in to watch the race on the television in the comfort of our apartment.  Great morning.  Our landlord dropped by to pick up the linens that we'd just changed (he'd left us a second set per our request) and we had an opportunity to chat with him for a little while.  He is still on crutches...has a hair-line crack in his hip.  Painful but only time will heal it properly and it's important that he keeps moving.

There were two Italians that came in 3rd and I think 5th but definitely in the top seven.  The sun came out shortly have eleven o'clock...just after the winners finished.  The first woman came in about twenty minutes after the first man.  We watched until the laural wreath was placed on the winners head before turning it off.

      We decided to head into town on the Metro...buses were not running today!  There were several different races, the Marathon, a 5 K and several others so many different streets were being used.  By two o'clock we'd arrived at the Termini Station and walked across the street to the National Museum of Rome.  It was reasonable and crowded! 
The museum is all sculptures and one whole floor is the recreation of several different ancient homes that have been uncovered over the years during excavations for new buildings.   Entire rooms, walls, floors, etc.   It was four floors of double height rooms with no elevations.  We left late in the day but we accumulated about three and a half miles on the pedometer on my cell phone by the end of the day!

It was nearly four o'clock when we headed over to the Termini Train Station and stood in line to purchase our tickets for the train trip to Florence on March 30th.  But nice to know that we have them now and can confirm our arrival there with our new landlord.  We also took time to purchase a seven day pass for each of us for the Bus/Metro and that will take us to the end of our stay.  We should have done that a week ago but got lazy.  The difference:  24 hour pass is 7 euros....a 7 day pass is 24 euros.  But you have to go to the Tabacco Shop in the Train Station to get the seven day pass.  We were lazy and purchased our daily passes locally.

      Soon we were back on the Metro B for one stop as we jumped off at Cavor stop and walked the short distance to visit the church of St. Peter In Chains.  It required a walk up a flight of seventy-five steps to reach the church.  But, it is beautiful and there is a huge altar that was designed by Michelangelo and recreated death by his assistants.  It was designed for the tomb of Pope Julius II, there is a famous statue of Moses and a special one of Pope Julius II in a reclining pose, making him look a bit lazy.
His assistants cobbled it together with stray pieces of sculpture but using his directions.

     From there we walked back down the seventy-five steps and over towards the Victor Emanuel Monument by walking down the center of the streets in the midst of the cleanup for this mornings Marathon Race....right under the banner at the start/finish line.  Arrived in Piazza Venezia and found that our bus # 46 was finally running again since the race was now over.

     By 6:30 pm we were back in our rain all afternoon.  A fun day and we soon had dinner on the table complete with wine and chocolate for dessert.  It was a cool but dry outing; our gloves and hats felt good.  I hope that you've enjoyed our afternoon with us....the link for photos is below:

Link to Picasa web photo albums


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Museum Doria Pamphilj

     Today we stayed home until nearly noon working on bookkeeping and research; the hours flew by and we suddenly realized that the day was slipping away.  A bit cooler outside but occasional sunshine helped.  Our jackets with sweaters underneath felt good most of the day.

We caught Bus # 46 that took us directly to Piazza Venezia where we spent the majority of the afternoon.  We went left instead of right and ended up walking completely around the Palace of the Pamphilj family before finding the entrance.  This home and several others are still owned by the original family that traces it's growth of wealth back to the Sixteenth Century when an early ancestor was elected Pope and chose the name of Pope Innocent X.   The family has maintained it's wealth and the narrator on the audioguide today was a modern day member of the family.  At one point he spoke of "his mother" did.....

      We spent about an hour an a half in the privately owned museum; the admission was 11 euros each but included a very complete audio guide.   I had to pay a fee of 4 euros but was then given a token to wear around my neck and I could snap as many photos as I wanted without flash.  The ceilings were works of art.  There were several Caravaggio paintings; some others with candles I thought were beautiful.  They created their own hall of mirrors; and each room was coordinated with the wall coverings and matching furniture.   What is important about this Palazzo is that the family has not sold off it's great art collection over the centuries as so many other families have. 

     Leaving the museum we walked towards the Victor Emmanuel Monument (known by tourist as the "wedding cake") we passed the Palazzo Venezia and decided to check it out.  The admission price was reasonable...5 euros each....and a classic marble staircase made the decision easy.  The artwork was Medieval  and there were several rooms of china and bronzes.  This is also the same building where Mussolini made his speeches from the balcony that faces the Monument.  A fun hour of walking from room to room.   Heading outside we continued our quest for the steps designed by Michelangelo behind the Victor Emmanuel Monument. 

     But the steps of the wedding cake drew us in and up we climbed.  On the first level we stopped to take photos of the women soldiers who were standing at attention at the Altar of the Fatherland. Then up more steps and finally into the building.   We found a great display of photos all about the use of dirigibili (hot air ships) during WW I.   Soon we were out the top of the building where we discovered a very modern glass elevator built on the outside of the building where for seven euros you could go to the top of the roof to take photos.   Decided we had enough of a view and
went behind the bell tower of the church that attaches to the monument.  Overlooked the old Roman Forum and ancient Rome...even a view of the Colosseum in the distance.   We entered the church that is known as the Basilica of S. Maria in Aracoeli; beautiful and very old.  Once back outside we walked down the marble steps...counting as we went....120 steps to the bottom. 

       We decided to save the other steps of Michelangelo for another day and headed to catch a bus that would take us to Termini.  It was about four o'clock by then.  Arrived and walked several blocks to check out the Church of Santa Maria della Victoria that has the Bernini Altar  with the statute of St. Teresa in Ecstasy. was totally covered with restoration going on behind the netting.  But we've seen it several times before so we were actually just wasting some time by checking out a rumor we'd heard from another tourist last week.

We decided that we would find the local McDonalds and have a burger while we waiting for an hour for the English Mass at 5:45 pm at the same church we went to last Saturday.  It was just around the corner from the Piazza dei Republica.   Crowded but they never asked us to leave and we stayed for an hour.  Afterwards we walked a block to take photos of the beautiful Episcopal Church.  I'd seen it in 2013 but it was closed.  A beautiful interior made the extra block worthwhile.

     Soon we were over the Piazza, having to make our way past the myriad of equipment that we think is being set up for the Rome Marathon that is being run tomorrow.   A beautiful Mass with a young priest who gave the homely talking about how his mother told him at the age of eighteen that no matter what he did he would always find a welcome at home as he went off to college.  It was a good way to end the week.

     Crossed over the street to the Metro stop and arrived home before eight o'clock.  A clarification on our location.  I've discovered on Google Maps that we are actually south west of the Vatican.  The street that we live on starts uphill on the northwest side of the Vatican but then it wraps around the back of the Vatican.  Another good day and I hope that you've also enjoyed our journey.  Here is the link to the photos.

Link to Picasaweb Photos

Friday, March 20, 2015

Villa dei Quintili

  Our day started early and we were on the Metro by 9:30 am heading back out to the area we visited yesterday.  But today we caught a different bus after we got off of the Metro and within about ten minutes arrived at the vast ruins of the ancient Villa dei Quintili  built in the second century by two wealthy brothers by the name of Quintili.  When the ruins were first excavated they were called old Rome because it was so large they were sure that they'd discovered a city. Later it was determined that it was not a city but only a huge suburban home for a wealthy family.   The back of the property is on the Appian Way and is at about the five mile marker from the gates of the walls that surround the old center of Rome. But the entrance is out on the highway serviced by bus # 664 from the Metro A stop at Colli Albani.  You'll know where to get off because you can see the mammoth ruins from the bus.

It was a gem of a discovery and very few visitors.  The entrance was only a short walk from the bus stop and there was even a small museum with artifacts that they'd found as they continue to excavate the site.  Well worth the time to go visit.  We were finished and back on bus # 660 by 12:30 and headed back to Colli Albani where we caught the bus # 660 back to the main section of the Appian Way again where we'd been yesterday.  This time we had a ticket in hand for the exploration of the Tomb of Cecila Metella....our three part ticket from yesterday...we found it interesting but glad we hadn't paid a full six euros to enter. 

     From there we started back towards the Catacombs where the buses stopped.  Along the way we were passing the Circus and Villa of Maxentlus.  We asked how much it cost to go inside and were told because of our age it was FREE!    Enjoyed our visit and it would have been well worth the entry fee if we'd had to pay!  Very interesting and you'll enjoy the photos of a group of young nuns who were also visiting at the same time.  This was the suburban home of the emperor who was eventually defeated by Constantine in A.D. 312.  This former race track was so
huge that it held about ten thousand fans!  When you look at the the far end of the 260 yard track is the triumphal arch under which the winner rode to receive his reward.  Very impressive if you use your imagination.   We also visited the circular mausoleum of Maxentius' son, Romulus.

     Back to Bus #118 stop in front of the San Sebastiano Catacombs for a long ride back into town.  We arrived about 3 pm at the Porte of St. Paul and the Piramide which was a tomb for a
Roman who spent much of his time in Egypt.  It backs up to a cemetery for Protestants...but the sign says it is a cemetery for non-catholics.  Still active today but is home to the graves of many famous people including Keats and Shelley, famous poets who lived in and loved the city of Rome.  Keat's home is located at the foot of the Spanish Steps.

    We continued walking along the Tiber River until we reached the bridge at Ponte Sublicio at the southern end of the Trastevere area.  By this time it was nearly four o'clock and we were very tired.
We continued walking until we reached Via de Trastevere where we decided to call it a day and head for home.  Not as easy as it sounds.  We caught a tram that took us back over the river to Piazza Via Venezia.  There we walked several block and found a bus stop for bus # 46 that would take us home.  We just missed a bus and it was over half an hour until the next one arrived.  We stood on that one until it arrived at St. Peter's where we were able to get seats for the rest of the way home.  Thank goodness...we were both exhausted. We walked just under eight miles today according to my cell phone that keeps track of my steps.  By the maps works great and I also have an apt that tells me how soon a bus will arrive at the stop that we're standing at.  T-Mobile has free texting and data when you're in Europe.

    Arrived back at the apartment about 5:30 pm.  I trotted off to the grocery store for food supplies.  By 6:30 pm we were back out and headed for the restaurant of the friend of our apartment owner that is only a couple of blocks.  Oops...he was closed tonight...or maybe we were too early??   But we walked on and finally purchased some delicious pizza to go and had dinner at home adding our own wine and salad plus dessert.  A good ending to a full day.  I'm hearing the tap tap of the tiny feet of the children that live upstairs.  We only hear them in the evening and it's kinda fun in a way, as it  reminds us of our grandchildren at home.

     Hope that you've enjoyed our journey today.  Here is the link to the photos.

link to Picasa Web Album

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Walking on the Ancient Appian Way

It's Thursday and we were up and out the door by 9:30 am this morning.  First we caught the A Metro and road it all the way past Termini to Colli Albani; a long ways outside of the walls and on the way to the airport.   There we got off, crossed the street and found Bus # 660, confirmed with the driver that we were on the correct bus and climbed aboard.  We waited about fifteen minutes and then we were off for the fifteen minute drive to our starting point for visiting the Via Appia Antica...or the ancient road built by the Romans centuries ago.

We talked about renting bicycles but were hesitating as we knew the road was difficult and often there would not be much space on the edge; but the choice was decided for us when we saw that they only had one bicycle available.   The weather was sunny and beautiful but still cool enough for light jackets. 

     There was lots of cars zipping by but we had a narrow strip to walk as we looked through gates at private home that border the ancient road.  This road is closed to traffic (except by permit for residents) on Sunday; but today there were many cars and buses on the road.

    We looked through the entry at the remains of the Tomb of Cecilia Metella....we may go back tomorrow to see more of this as we purchased a ticket later in the day that is good for three sites.  From there we walked along the edge of the Villa of Maxentius, the suburban home of the emperor who was eventually defeated by Constantine in A.D. 312.   The space is huge as it once contained a chariot racetrack for his personal pleasure.  It held ten thousand fans!

     Our next stop was to visit the church at the Catacombs of San Sebastiano.  The church was built by Constantine...not this one but an earlier one on the same spot.  St. Stephen was buried in the Catacombs below and his body was taken up into the church when they filled in the Catacombs below to surpport the weight of the church building.  The church is dedicated to him. 

     There is also a beautiful bust of Jesus by Bernini in the church; his last work that was completed when he was in his eighties.   It was lost for centuries and just recently found in 2004. 

  We had half an hour to wait for the English tour of the Catacombs but it was well worth it.  Sorry, no photos while we were down underground.   We were down there for about thirty-five minutes.  She told us how the earth in this area was rather soft and easy to dig, volcanic; but once exposed to the air it became rock hard.   Perfect for creating miles of burial sites under the ground. 

     Back above ground we started walking North towards Rome looking for bus # 118 that would take us back to Rome.  The road was extremely narrow and traffic was flying by us so close we could have touched the vehicles if we'd put our hands out.  And in this section there were tall walls on each side of the road with no walking paths.   But we found a bus heading back where we'd come from but at that point we really didn't care.  We hopped aboard and found out that it was a "circular route" bus and we eventually came back to where we boarded and were then heading North.  Patience was the name of the game today. 

  The bus took us all the way to the Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla), located on the edge of the city near the walls that surround Rome.  The buildings are huge and were built in A.D. 216; the baths were so large they could accommodate sixteen hundred visitors at a time.  In it's day it was the place to hang out but when Goths severed the aqueducts in the sixth century during a war they tumbled into ruins and were no more. 

     Soon we were back on the same bus and jumped off near Circus Maximus when we saw the Metro sign.  Heading home we were tucker out and called it a day about 4 pm.  We'd done four and a half miles by the time the day was over.  Once home we worked on the Italian cell phone and now have learned how to use it to text so Jim has a phone again.  It's a little flip phone but it works.

     Another day is nearly over and we've had our dinner in the apartment again.  One of these nights we'll had to go out to dinner again.  It's so easy to eat at home!   Thinking about playing some cards now that the blog is done early.  I finally gave up with using dropbox to transfer photos from my phone to the computer.  I attached the phone to the computer this evening and downloaded them instantly.  Here is the link in case the slideshow is not working below.

Picasa Web Album Link

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pick pockets in Roma

  Did we miss a day....yes and no....we started out on Tuesday for a grand day even though it was raining lightly.  I screwed up and took us out of the walls to the Metro Station Vittorio Emanuele thinking that it was the Victor Emmanuel Monument; where it was an easy walk to our destination.  Once out of the station...we were totally lost.  We should have gotten back on the Metro and returned to an area we were familiar with but this very nicely dress Italian man insisted he could get us to our destination by bus.

Biggest mistake was not trusting our instincts and not listening to the Italian lady who spoke limited English about getting back on the Metro.  But, he kept insisting that we could get there faster by the bus with him.  Sure enough...he waited until a really crowded bus came and we went with him like lambs to the slaughter.  At the next stop he got off rather hurriedly and pointed to the direction he said we should go.  We were still lost but things looked familiar to me from two years ago as I recognized the walls out near San Giovanni in Laterano Church.

     So we walked a few blocks, entered the church and came out near the Obelisk in the square and finally caught a bus towards Via Venezia, another familiar name.  At this stage we decided to get a bus to somewhere, we knew not where and that's when Jim discovered both his wallet and cell phone were missing from the zipper pockets of his jacket!  Now we knew why the man left us in such a hurry and why he was so upset when the lady tried to get us to go back to the Metro.

At that point, we forgot all about going to pick up our tickets for the Wednesday audience with the Pope.  Jim has a history of heart atrial fibrillation and we were concerned about the trauma creating a health problem for him.  I talked Jim into getting a taxi cab to take us to the entry to the Vatican Museum...negotiated a ride for eight euros...from there we caught our number 49 bus back to the apartment.   We actually walked a bit which was good for us to the next stop and along the way took a photo of the stairway that we'd climbed on Saturday when we got lost finding our metro stop.

     Jim was concerned about his Metro/Bus ticket that was in his wallet and I said just get on like you have your ticket in your pocket.  You only have to put an all day pass in once a day.  If for some reason an inspector gets on the will just have to realize for the first time that your wallet has been stolen.  But, just as I one asked to see his ticket.

     Back in the apartment much earlier than planned, we started the process of cancelling credit cards, etc. that happens when your wallet is stolen.  We contacted our son-in-law in the USA and he took care of turning the IPhone into a "brick" and hopefully worthless to the person who took it.  If they sign on to the Internet with will take a photo of the location and send it to us which we can in turn give to the police.  But, that will probably never happen.   We had no ideal how to do this but figured our son-in-law did and sure enough he took care of it for us.  Using our International Skype we first contacted the bank and then the credit card companies.  We also filled a report with charge...and they noticed the other two credit reporting companies for us.  It's good for 90 days.  And so ended our day...we ate dinner and went to bed early.

     We were up early this morning on Wednesday, and by 10 am we were out the door.  First stop was at the TIM Store to activate the Italian  cell phone that I'd purchased in 2013.  Now Jim has that phone with him in case we get separated.   I have to teach him how to use it this evening.

Next we went to the local police station following the directions that our landlord had given to us when we notified him of the problem.  Before we left the apartment this morning, I went into google translate and typed the story and information about what had happened to us along with personal information.  I copied the Italian translation and pasted it into an email to myself.  When we arrived at the police station...only a couple of blocks from the apartment...I told them I had a translation on my cell phone...opened up the email and they were delighted.  The official report was made and we have a copy of it with us to take home just in case there are problems.  By this time is was noon.

     A short stop back at the apartment and we were on our way on bus 64 to Piazza Venezia...where we'd gotten the taxi cab yesterday.  We were back on schedule.  I knew that we could enter the old Rome on the tiny streets from here.  We walked a few blocks the wrong way at first but soon Jim turned us has a sense of freedom today not worrying about his pockets...and we were at the Gesu Church. was closing for lunch as we entered and we were gently but firmly escorted to the door and told to come back at 4 pm.  Well...cross that one off of our list.  Back on the street we headed in towards the Pantheon; stopping first at the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva church that has the elephant and the obelisk in front of it.  Inside we found the body of St. Catherine under the main altar...her head is buried in Siena, Italy.  From there we walked to the French Church of San also was closed for lunch until three o'clock.

  Change of plans we walked back towards the Pantheon and along the way entered the church of St. Eustachio...they were just finishing up from feeding the homeless so we didn't stay long.  And we were on our way to the Jesuit Church of San Ignazio.  It has stunning art throughout, the ceiling looks like it belongs in the Sistine Chapel. 

     Then  we headed back to the French has the paintings of St. Matthew by Caravaggio. was still closed.  So we walked a few blocks over by the Parliament building to one of the more famous places to get gelato (ice cream) known at Giolitti.   Very reasonable and good.  We each had a double scoop...the smallest they serve...and finished them by the time we arrived back at the french church that was now open!

  Our feet were very tired by now as it was after 4 pm.  But we started walking towards Trevi Fountain.  When we arrived it was surrounded by glass walls...they are restoring it.  Not what we wanted to see but took a few photos anyway.  I guess I'll have to toss that coin in another fountain to make sure that we come back to Rome someday.   Our goal was to go to Piazza del Popolo so we started walking towards Spanish Steps...Spanga.

     When we reached the large street of Via del Tritone we decided to hop a bus...we got engaged in conversation with a wonderful fellow from Pakistan as we passed several Metro Stops.  Soon we didn't see any more Metro stops and when we asked where we were going...oops...time to get off and make new plans.  We eventually found a bus heading towards Termini Station...just before it arrived we got off and entered the Metro at the Republica Station (across from the place we attended Mass on Saturday evening) and we finally knew where we were.

     Soon we were at Flaminio Station, hopped off and walked across the large piazza to the church we wee looking for in Piazza del Popolo.....yep....more Caravaggio paintings in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo that is right next to the arch where you enter the Piazza.

     Back on the Metro and home in minutes.  We made a quick trip to the grocery store...we're eating on about ten euros a day by cooking in the apartment.   Good meals including desserts and wine!   It was six o'clock when we reached home.  A good day of sightseeing.  For those that count steps, my cell phone said that we'd walked 15,293 steps today.

     I hope you've enjoyed this rather long journal of our past two days. The photos are loading slowly so will posr and add the rest of the photos to the web album tomorrow.   Here is the link for the picasa web photos if you don't see the slide show playing below.

Web Album Link