Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 20, 2013 Trastevere, Jewish Ghetto, Compo de Fliori and The Borghese Gardens

It was a warm and beautiful day for our last full day in Rome.   The protest marches were over…but the slideshow has a photo of the helicopter overhead and the police in riot gear from yesterday.    Mary and I were out early to walk to the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore for the end of the 7 am mass and the beginning of the 8 am mass.  Then back to the Beehive Hostel for our favorite breakfast:  cheese and veggie omelet, toast and coffee. 
By the time we finished the girls were awake and by ten o’clock we were all four out the door for our last adventure.  We caught the # H Bus and rode it all the way across the river to the very old area known as Trastevere; one of the oldest in Rome.   We followed Rick Steves tour which lead us on a path through the streets from church to church.  One of the most interesting things we saw during the various masses that were in progress was the reading of the gospel at Saint Maria in Trasievere Church; they walked the book over to a very old elevated pulpit in the center of the church.  I’ve never seen this done before and was very surprised.
We completed the first tour and then crossed the bridge that crosses the old island that has always had a hospital on it.  Today, it is the favorite place for Roman women to deliver their babies.  When we crossed over to the other side we were in the Jewish Ghetto of Rome.  Very little remains today except for the synagogue and since it was a long line we decided not to tour the building.  There are many restaurant that advertise kosher foods that surround the synagogue and the ancient theatre that stands in ruins in the area.  A plaque on the wall near the theatre said that this was the spot where they rounded up the Jewish people in WW II for transport to the camps; a sad note in history.
Soon we were in the very busy Campo de Fiori; found a restaurant as it was about two o’clock and had a very Italian pasta lunch with red wine.   Then we walked to find the bus back to the Termini for some much needed rest.
About 5 pm we were back at the Termini; this time to catch the A Metro towards Borghese Gardens.  We walked out at the Plazza del Popolo; I stopped in to see the art in one church and then we crossed the road and walked into the massive Borghese Gardens.  We walked and enjoyed the gardens for about two hours.  This is the favorite place for Roman families to enjoy their Sunday evenings in good weather.  We found all sorts of activities:  bicycles, skaters, walkers and those that just sat on the grass and enjoyed their warm roman evening.   Found a gentlemen playing music on several different types of horns and couldn’t resist purchasing his CD…we’ll all think of Rome when we listen to it at home as we each purchased our own.  Soon we were at the bluff and enjoying the views of Rome and the sunset.  We walked out of the park and into Spanish Steps.
Jane and I climbed the side stairs up and Bonnie and Mary went to wait for us at the bottom of the main stairs.  We had fun taking photos of everyone as we slowly walked down the broad expanse of stairs to the fountain at the bottom. 
More photos and then a gelato for dessert as we slowly walked back to the Metro and home.   It’s been a grand adventure these last six weeks with the girls.  Some ups and downs but that goes with traveling.  Bonnie and Jane have one more day in Rome before they leave; Mary and I fly to London tomorrow evening, stay overnight at Heathrow Airport before leaving Tuesday morning for New York and then Florida.   I’m going home with Mary to visit until Friday.  All of my siblings will be together for the first time in over five years; Joe and Shirley are down from Indiana. 
It’s been fun and I hope that you’ve enjoyed sharing my three month journey in Europe this summer.   Hope you enjoy he final slideshow: 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ostia Antica

Above is Saint Maggiore last night.  There was a huge protest march in Rome today to let the government know that the people feel that too much money is spent on the wealthy!   Yesterday they had a one day strike on transportation, including about one hundred flights that were canceled at the airport.   All in support of the protest today.   Police everywhere in riot gear; helicopters circling all day long.  This evening they are coming over our Hostel about every two minutes as the area of the protest march is about six blocks away.  We are safely tucked away in our Hostel for the evening.  I tried to get my sister Mary to cross the lines to attend six o’clock mass at Santa Marie Maggiore; we got within two blocks and she would not go any further.  We returned to the Hostel and had our dinner as we listened to the helicopters overhead.   Hopefully, this will be over long before it’s time to tuck in for the night.
We based our plans today on the fact that the protest march would affect most everything; especially transportation.   At first we planned to go by Bus to the Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere; but the bus to that area wasn’t running today because of the Protest.  So we changed plans, hopped on the B Metro Line and headed towards Ostia Antica.  It was an easy half hour trip to the ancient ruins that were covered for centuries by mud and sand after the area was deserted because when the course of the Tiber River changed it became a swamp and became infested with malaria carrying mosquitos.  
  It had been a busy port town at the mouth of the River that had sixty thousand residence. 
In recent years they excavated the ancient city and it has become a tourist attraction.   One of the main attractions are the beautifully preserved mosaic tile floors.  We really enjoyed our visit this afternoon; it was several hours of walking on the ancient large stone that they used to construct their streets.
Before three o’clock we headed back for the train into Rome and decided to stop along the way at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.  One of the four churches that are considered “in the Vatican” here in Rome:  St. Peter’s, John Lateran, Maggiore and St. Paul; when in any of these buildings you are “in the Vatican”.  
One of the reasons we wanted to visit this church again was to check the number of ovals that are still empty.  There is a mosaic painting of every pope since St. Peter along the top of the walls in this church.  There are only six more ovals that are empty after they add Pope Francis who is still not up there.  Pope Benedict is in place with the exception of the date of his death which is under all the other popes.  There is also a hallo around the heads of those popes that have been named a Saint by the church.  Not many of those except for the very early years. 
They will be adding two hallo’s next spring:  Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. 
Back on the Metro we sped through the city, without stopping at some stations that were in the area of the protest; soon we were at Termini and only a short few blocks to walk home.
It’s been a busy afternoon with everyone excited about everything that’s going on around us.  It’s now after seven o’clock and the helicopters are still flying over every few minutes.  I do hope that this is over before ten o’clock; otherwise it will be a long night.
Bonnie and Jane are still out.  They spent the afternoon at the Forum and are having dinner before they return home this evening.   Hope you enjoy the slideshow:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Borghese Museum and Saint Teresa in Ecstasy

This morning we had two things going:  1) a National Transportation Strike which meant that getting anyplace could be a real problem and 2) we had reservations to tour the Borghese Museum.  On the first item we have a huge surplus of police in the city because of the March and Rally that are taking place. 
The people feel that too much preference is given to the wealthy people and are doing an organized protest today.  They estimate an extra twenty thousand people here from all over the country for this event. 
Our second event was easy; we got a taxi to the Museum and actually walked part of the way home before reaching a Metro that was running even though the sign on the entry said it was closed.  The Borghese Museum is one of those “must do visits” when in Rome and is located in the center of a beautiful park.  It is by appointment only and one must check everything; purses, cameras, etc.   You have a two hour window with your appointment and must leave at the end of the time scheduled.   So…no photos inside! 
  My favorite is Pauline Borghese Bonaparte….yes NapolĂ©on’s relative; relaxing on a couch that looks so soft that if you touched it with your thumb you would leave an imprint.   The sculpture is by Canova.   We took advantage of the whole two hours to see the entire museum in depth.  Easy for me to do as I’ve been there four times before.
After leaving the museum we walked down through the park through the ancient city walls to Via Veneto, a street of very expensive hotels, shops and restaurants that have glass enclosed eating areas on the sidewalks.   Always fun to walk down; at the head of the street is Harry’s Bar; it seems like there is one in every major city in the world these days.   There were twice as many police in this area!   But since they are protesting the distribution of wealth this would be an area that they might target.
We walked all the way to Piazza Barberini where we found the Metro Station.  The sign said it was closed but since a few people were coming up we went down.  Yes…there were trains running and we caught one to Termini Station.   There are very few buses running today.  Normally the streets are packed with buses but not today.  The main bus station outside of Termini was almost empty.
Walked to the Hostel where Mary was waiting for her outing; she’d been to the Borghese Museum in 2009 and decided not to go this morning.  Bonnie and Jane were off by Metro to the Colosseo.  Mary and I walked several blocks to visit two different churches.  The first one was the Church of Santa Maria Delia Vittoria that has the famous altar by Bernini with “Saint Teresa in Ecstasy”.  
The angel has just pulled out the arrow that had stabbed her:  “God’s arrow of fire”.  Very interesting.  The patrons that had paid for the altar are part of the scene as they have box seats on each side of the altar; admiring the scene before them. 
Our second church was located in the ancient Baths of Diocletian on the Piazza Repubblica.   Michelangelo at the age of 86 years worked on plans for making these ancient ruins into a church; it was one of his last projects.  It was years later that the church was actually made inside of the mammoth structure.  These were the largest baths in the Roman Empire according to the accounts that we read.  Mary and I had attended Easter morning Mass here in 2009. 

Back to the Hostel for some time to rest and relax.  Thought about going out to see the city sites with the lights on but have decided to play it smart and wait until tomorrow night.
Hope you enjoy the slide show: