I spent the morning at the Vatican Museum. I had reserved a ticket and audio guide on line while still in the states. A must. Bus 492 from Argentina left me at Bastioni di Michelangelo, and from there I followed the crowds and signs to the entry. Once inside,modern organization, efficiency, and technology took over and I started walking, and walking, and walking.
My specific destinations: the Pinacoteca (gallery of medieval and renaissance paintings), the Borgia apartments, and the Sistine Chapel (no photography). Along the way there was so much more to take in, including a generous display of contemporary art. This museum is not stuck in the past.
Please take a little walk with me. I confess that I did more looking than picture taking.
Quick view of my first evening in Rome and Trastevere, were 'back in the day' the tradesmen and families lived. No time to write. I'm off on the beautiful dat.
A quiet day for me here, a day that is turning out to be a “My Day,” at least until we meet friends for dinner. I want everyone, those of us who like silence, solitude and simplicity, and those who always like to be with others, to have a day like this once in a while. On a ‘My Day” there are no outside obligations or commitments. I figure out what to do as the day enfolds.
Per usual, I’m staying home, satisfying my typical pleasures of reading, writing, meditating, walking, and, I must confess, keep an eye on the news. To my surprise, I realize I have just spent a couple of hours reading “Bernini: His Life and His Rome,” by Franco Mormando, purusing “Bernini and the Art of Architecture,” by T.A. Marder, and planning the four days I’ll be in Rome in April, which seems to be shaping into a Bernini visit.
This is my favorite city. I have to shout that out again and again, but you all know that!
Yesterday friends who spend two months in Rome every fall came up by train for the day. We walked, talked, and visited San Marco. Then we walked, talked, ate and visited Santa Croce. Next we walked, talked and ate some more until they took the train back to their home away from home.
Rome is their city; Florence is mine. Rome is huge and spread out, with many centers of interest. Florence is small and compact, with the Duomo the center from which all spirals forth.
Here I sit on the train on my way to Florence after one night in Rome. Rome in a day felt about right. I love Rome, but it’s a big city, steeped in Roman Catholic history. On this visit it seemed that all I could see were Baroque churches, representative of 16th century Rome, with its renewal and response to the counter reformation.
That being said, I had a wonderful day in The Eternal City. There was much for which to be grateful, which is always a good way to start out. My flight arrived early and my hotel room was ready. How good is that? Very. I bought a day bus pass. First stop, Campo de Fiori for my first pizza (marinara) of the trip. Next, a visit to Castel Sant’Angelo. Originally built by Hadrian (76-138 CE) for his tomb but added to over the years to serve as, among other things, a prison, barracks, and a get away for many popes. Borgia Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) built a secret passage way from the Vatican to the castle.
Being my frugal mother’s daughter, I had to get my money’s worth with the bus pass, so back to the hotel for a nap and then out again to wander about the area of the Pantheon (completed during Hadrian’s reign) and the Piazza Navona, where I enjoyed a delicious meal of bruschetta and tagliatelle with shrimp and zucchini. Early to bed and early to rise to catch this 8:45 italotreno.it to Firenze, where I am now posting this.
I wear a Fitbit to measure how many stairs I’ve climbed, steps I’ve taken, and miles I’ve walked. I think in terms of miles, trying to walk four a day. When I take a real walk, I make my goal. On other days I fall way short.
From time to time Fitbit awards me ‘internet badges’. Here’s my favorite. It can’t get better than this.
Beneath an icon of the Coliseum:
You've earned the Italy badge
By walking 736 miles--
the entire length of Italy--
you've stepped your way to another lifetime badge.
That's a colossal achievement!
I’m on the plane, in the middle of a nine plus hour flight from Rome to Boston. I’m delighted, no relieved, that I chose this direct flight instead of going to Philly to pick up some flyer miles with USAirways, the airline, if you recall, that sent my suitcase to Brussels for a week when I went to Scotland. This time, for many reasons it just didn’t seem worth it, that extra stop. And besides, Alitalia offers free wine.
Now about Italian wine. I’d look it up if I could get on the internet and maybe I will sometime. But suffice to say that the wine in Italy does not contain the preservatives required for wine sold in the U.S.. Consequently, a glass at lunch and on you go, not missing a beat. What a simple way to live.
Yesterday my daughter and I walked all over Rome, from Rome Termini (the railway station), to the Coliseum, Forum and the Victor Emmanuel Monument, to Camp de Fiori, the Pantheon and Trevi Fountains, and ending up at St. Peter’s Square. Along the way we enjoyed a salad and wine but we didn’t miss a beat. (Thankfully the bus strike that morning ended sometime during the day so we hopped on Bus 64 back to our hotel near the station.)
Of course it’s not simple walking in Rome—people, cars, buses, motorcycles, among winding streets and enormous boulevards. The secret is to go with the human traffic. Stop to defer to your map, but never to another pedestrian or car; that only fouls up the system; just keep walking. We discovered that the best way to cross the street is to follow closely behind a group of people, preferable Italian, for they are fearless.
I’ll be posting this when I get home. Tomorrow I’ll be walking in my neighborhood. No winding streets; a school bus or two, perhaps a motorcycle, cars; no boulevards and no groups of Italians to follow. I’ll just look left and right and defer to the traffic.
I was thinking of writing about the stones thrown up on the sidewalk, and about ‘The Pink’, the remains of a shipwreck that gets uncovered on the beach when there is a big storm. These natural happenings are not under our control. But then I got thinking about today, when through Pope Benedict’s control, the world became popeless (not even in my spell check). Whatever our memories, this pope has effected and made a mark on our lives. Whatever our opinions, the world will be different because of this startling event.
I was with a friend in Assisi in 2006 when the bells tolled Habemus Papam. The following Sunday we arrived at St. Peter’s Square just after Pope Benedict XVI had given his first official papal blessing. Last June I wandered into that same square and found myself participating in a Papal Mass. The highlight for the thousands gathered was not the communion wafer, which was offered to everyone in a most organized way, but a view of Pope Benedict scooting around and about in his popemobile. He looked like he was having fun, but I guess he decided it wasn’t worth hanging around for another year just for the ride.
I love to study church history, say, through the Reformation and High Renaissance, but I don’t like living it in the twenty-first century. To be candid, I’m not a Roman Catholic and I don’t resonate with its current policies. It is said that nothing will change unless the new pope REALLY surprises everyone. Also, the odds are definitely against Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley being chosen. Why would anyone in the Conclave elect someone whose hometown newspaper is the Boston Globe?
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