Saturday, August 8, 2009


August 8th, 2004 Rome, Italy

During the night I got to thinking about the train trip coming up on the thirteenth and decided that the connections were just too close time wise. So today we are going to go back to the train station and change the reservations so that we come back through Rome from Sorrento and from here go on to Ravenna. More trains are available and we’ll be more comfortable with the schedule (I hope) and also we will be familiar with the stations. Can’t go until late this afternoon as I have jammed the lock on the room safe and I have to wait for the manager to arrive; he is the only one with a key to open a jammed lock. All of our passports and tickets are in the safe.

We left the hotel about 10 am for our walk to church. Arrived timely but found out at 11 am that the English Mass had been discontinued for August. But, we had an Italian Mass at the church next door, St. Ignazio, at 11:30. Jim used the time to go over to the see the Gesu Church; the headquarters of the Jesuits in Rome. St. Ignazio, founder of the Jesuit Order is buried in this church and he worked and lived next door during his lifetime. After Mass we walked back to the hotel and found that at 1 pm it was already hot so we tried to walk in the shade whenever possible. There is a reason the Italians head for the beaches in August!

I’m resting and doing my computer work and Jim is off to the Villa Borghese again to see their Etruscan Museum. He’s promised we can stop at the Cappuccin Crypt sometime before we leave Rome on Tuesday. It’s decorated with the bones of Monks; sounds depressing but interesting.

Jim returned about 4:30 pm and said he’d really enjoyed the Etruscan Museum. Glad he went without me, as that is really not my cup of tea. I received several emails this afternoon with information on some good restaurants so we went out to walk the area looking for them. Didn’t find any so we decided to enjoy a Roma Pizza and beer at an outdoor restaurant located at the foot of the stairs on the crook of the Via Veneto. So good and since we split one pizza we were comfortable but not stuffed. From there we walked across the street to the Cappuccin Crypt and found that it has been closed for restoration since December 2003. So…no monk’s bones on this trip. Continued to walk towards the Plaza Republican and found St. Susanna Church just before we arrived. We’ve been told that they have Mass in English at that church also, but it was closed for the evening. Walked back towards the hotel and finally found one of the restaurants that was recommended in our afternoon emails, Marcello’s; it was also closed. We will check tomorrow to see if it’s closed only for Sunday or for all of August; and also look for the other two tomorrow. We’re considering taking the “all day” double decked tour bus tomorrow. My feet are getting very sore from walking on the cobblestone streets. The Manager never arrived today so we are still unable to get new train reservations.

August 9th: Manager was to arrive by 9 am so after breakfast we checked at the front desk; now he is due to arrive by 2 pm. Seems as though he is on holiday outside of Rome and is driving in to the city just to open the safe for me.

Left to go to the #110 Open Bus Tour; the stop is just around the corner but it was running late and opposed to only fifteen minutes we waited about forty-five minutes. Then we went to the next stop at the Termni Train Station. Had to get off that bus and get in line to wait about fifteen minutes in the sun for the next bus to leave. The train station is the beginning and end of the line. We decided to go the entire route as we had upstairs seats and could see everything really well. The entire tour is about forty-five minutes; it goes past the major sites and we had English in our earplugs giving an explanation of each site as we passed. Since we purchased the On/Off Pass for thirteen euros we will take it again this afternoon to the train station (after the hotel manager arrives to open the safe) to take care of our tickets and then get back on to go to the Colosseum. From there we will walk to St. Giovanni In Laterano; the Pope’s main place as the Bishop of Rome. There we will also take a look at the 28 holy marble steps; but only through a window. The tour book states that the relics are now in the Vatican and the chapel is locked but there is a special place for tourist to look in the windows? The stairs were the steps leading up to Pilate’s residence and were climbed by Jesus on the day he was sentenced to death. In AD 326 the steps were brought to Rome by the mother of Constantine and put in a special chapel built for them. (not true…see below…)

By noon we were beginning to toast and decided to take a siesta at the hotel. This afternoon I think we’ll be happy to sit downstairs in the cooler interior of the bus for our adventure. Also; on Jim’s morning walk after breakfast he walked over to the Restaurant Marcello and found the doors open; alas they are using August to paint the interior as it is closed for the month. Stock Market is not doing well we hear on CNN. But the ticket sales are going well in Athens.

Back in our little room for the night; busy packing, charging batteries and getting ready for our move tomorrow to Sorrento. The hotel manager arrived right at 2 pm and managed to get the safe open for us. I had caught the cord of my neckpak in the door as it closed. Got back on the 110 Tour Bus and went as far as the train station. We had to wait about forty-five minutes for our turn with the reservations clerk who not only spoke English but was very good to work with. He suggested we go from Naples to Bologna on a ESI train; no changes and its much faster. From there we will take a local train south to the coast and our hotel there in Ravenna. And best of all we will arrive much earlier. He exchanged our previous reservations so there were no additional costs involved; just time.

Took the 110 Tour Bus again and headed for another round of the same sights as we had this morning. Realized we’d left the Rick Steves’ Rome Book in the train station about half an hour later. We have decided that if we’re meant to carry it home it will still be there tomorrow morning.

We got off at the Colosseum stop and walked to San Giovanni in Laterano Church; about three-quarters of a mile each way. It’s a very impressive inside and out; the Pope uses this church for audiences and announcements; it’s his parish church. It was the Papal Palace before St. Peter’s. Very classic, goes back to Constantine in fourth century. Next door we found the Holy Steps from the residence of Pontius Pilate. They are actually still there, covered with Wooden steps with cutouts so that you can see the actual marble steps and the drops of blood from Christ when he crawled up these same 28 steps on the day he was sentenced. We decided to join the group and actually climbed up the steps. You must do so on your knees; no one is allowed to walk up these steps. Fortunately I had a scarf in my purse as the first thing the priest at the door told me was to cover my shoulders (I had on a sleeveless top). We’d been smart enough to wear long pants (no shorts were allowed in the building). It was the chapel at the top of the stairs that has been closed and must be viewed through a window.

Wow! That was tough. Many of the people going up were going very slowly and saying prayers on each step. There are separate stairways on each side that go up to the chapel for those who wanted to just walk up. At the top you could only peer through a grill at the chapel and the relics inside of the original chapel; there is a newer chapel that you may enter off to the side. A very moving experience; we had no idea that we’d actually be able to go up the steps.

Back to the 110 Tour Bus and completed the tour of the sights returning to our hotel area about 7 pm. Decided to have pizza and “water with gas” at another outside eating area on Via Veneto. Stopped to look at the little tractor that has a crane on it before returning to the hotel. Jim is fascinated with this machine. It’s relatively small with rubber tracks on the wheels and then there were four arms that helped to balance the machine; literally lifting the tractor off of the base when it was in use. It had the ability to go up about forty feet; you could call it a “cherry picker”. The operator was there this morning and spent some time with Jim explaining how it worked. It was radio controlled by him from the ground. The top had a platform that held two men who were working on the edge of a building. He approached Jim while he was taking photos and asked him if he liked his machine. I didn’t think we’d ever continue on our way!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad we have the internet again so enjoyed reading your latest blogs.
Was fun seeing Rome again with you. Glad we did not have to deal with the heat of summer. Will try to call you soon. Hugs, Mary