Friday, June 11, 2010

Rome June 2010: Day Two

First, for those of you who speak Italian; give me a break on the spelling. I know that I misspelled a bunch of Italian words. Corrections are humbly accepted. I’m not sharing this with Nancy Jones (former elementary school teacher and the newest member of the Alta Vista Gardens Board) or she would feel obliged to correct my English, I am happy to express myself just so, without her help.

We slept ten hours last night and basically, converted ourselves over to Rome time. Beatrice awoke us at ten this morning and we were rushed to get out of here in time and to her mother’s place at Piazza Mazzini for the beginning of Donna’s advanced Feldenkrais class. Renzo drove us in his VW Bug because Beatrice left early to get the living room cleared out and make the other preparations. We got there, proceeded down to the corner café where the Roman movie set gets their coffee and ordered two Cappuccinos’ for 2 Euro ($2.40 for both), a lot cheaper than Starbucks. We downed those in a few seconds and ordered another two along with a ham and mozzarella ‘Medallione’ for 2.5 Euro ($2.70). We shared the sandwich and I rushed her back to her class room for the first day of her teaching.

Leaving, I wandered over to the next road where Renzo had said I could get a bus to the Center of Rome. I was on my way to see my mom who had flown up from the Greek island of Paros where she lives six months of the year to see her sons who (by happenstance) happen to be in Italy at the same time. I went into a Tabacchaio and purchased ten bus/metro passes for ten Euro. Out on the curb, I looked up at the bus schedules to figure out which bus I wanted. Wonders of wonders, the old 628! For those of you that have followed my previous Blogs, this is the exact same bus line that we used the previous years to come from Beatrice’s old apartment in the other side of Rome to get to the center. How weird is that?

So, it took a half hour for the bus to arrive. The 628 has a very sporadic schedule. Sometimes it’s three buses in ten minutes and sometimes one bus in thirty, go figure. While waiting at the stop the distinguished gentleman standing next to me awaiting the same bus reminded me of a very important phrase that I have no doubt I shall continue to use regularly during the time I am here- “per piacere lasciami in pace” or “please leave me alone”. In this instance it was a young man trying to insist that I purchase a pair of sport socks from him. In all fairness I was wearing flops and no socks so he was aware that I had none, but did I need them? I thought not. Needless to say, he did not make the sale as I took advantage of this new phrase and mouthed it for the first time. The bus finally came and I was happy. I sat near the back taking in the sites. The bus took me down to and along the edge of the Tiber, I had never been familiar with this part of the river. It does not have built up embankments but has been left natural with trees and foliage. As we crossed over the bridge I looked down and saw a bunch of house boats moored along the edge of the river and a large parking lot with very few cars. So, for anyone who wants to live in Rome, here is a place that you can live with a wonderful ambiance and you will also never need to look for a parking space near home. I wondered if the rents are high to moor a house on the Tiber.

The Bus route was incredibly convoluted, switching back on itself in strange ways (or so it seemed). This driver had balls. He was hauling down very tight curving streets with little cars parked on both sides, very little clearance on either side like it was nothing. At one point he came upon someone who was double parked and restricting his passage even further, he slowed down to about 15 miles per hour and squeaked through with inches to spare but was unfazed. Just part of a days work driving a bus in Rome. The wonders of Rome; as we drove along I got a view down a narrow street and saw the obelisk in the center of the Piazza del Popolo framed by the road. We passed the tomb of Augustus and the Aria Paces (?) At another point another narrow side street afforded me a view of the Spanish steps with the boat fountain in the foreground at its other end. We passed a column with some old Roman at the top of it. I think that was Piazza Colonna (piazza of the column) I found myself there again at the end of the day and got a picture with the sun backlighting it. What a City!

I disembarked at piazza Venetia. They had finally finished that part of the new Metro route and filled in the eternal hole in the center of the piazza. Now there are two mounded grass areas with signs to stay off of the grass. Much better this way. I hesitated there. Did I want to go through the Ghetto or through Largo Argentina? The Ghetto won out. I just can’t resist getting that close to the turtle fountain and not actually going to see it. So I just picked the thinnest alley in site that went the correct direction and proceeded with my internal compass leading me first left then right (or was it right then left) in the direction of the little boys holding up those turtles. Around a corner into a little piazza and a huge church, another corner, another church. This is Rome…. I found the turtle fountain, good as ever. If (when) any of you ever go to Rome you defiantly need to see this little fountain. I almost forgot to mention, somewhere near the turtle fountain is a church. There is this guy who sits outside the church on the street and paints scenes of cactus (no cactus in site on this street). The steps of the church have one cactus painting after another lined up across the front of it. I’m not sure that anyone actually buys them as they are not very good and he probably never has even seen a cactus, but he has been there the three visits that I have returned through different seasons so he appears to be a fixture. Onward out of the Ghetto, across Corso Vittorio Emmanuelle toward the Campo di Fiori. A little way up on the right I saw that street that has a curve in it and knew that up that way was Largo del Palaro where I used to live. Shirley lives just behind there and this is where my mom is staying. Up to the apartment, I spent an hour or so re-connecting with Mom and Shirley. Shirley and I had actually not been in communication until about a year ago for almost forty years but she seems very lively and full of life.

I was dying to see the Campo so I urged mom out the door and down through the Chapel/tunnel that connects Largo del Palaro to the Campo dei Fiori (field of flowers). Most of the market was still open. Pretty cool, two stalls sold only Pasta; I got some photos, who knew there were so many types. A stall sold balsamic vinegar and different types of Pate’. Mom tried the artichoke pate’, she said it was incredible. Pricy too; 15 Euro for a small cold cream jar full. What a variety of vegetables. In this market you can find anything. Fruit and vegetables that I had never seen, most grown locally. I took pictures, because it was just so colorful and inviting. Mom had gone out that morning to buy an espresso machine at one of the stalls in the ‘Campo’ since she couldn’t find one in Shirley’s kitchen. She discovered that they also had one of those industrial size ‘sciatchia aglio’ (garlic press) that she had given each of us so many years ago. Knowing that, I made her take me there and I bought it so that we would have one at both houses. Too bad, I bought the last one and they had no idea how to get a hold of another.

From there we went to the Fornaio in the Campo and we each of selected a sandwich made from white pizza sliced down the center and stuffed with meat and cheese. Naturally, I chose Prosciutto. We wandered over to piazza Farnese and sat down at a café and ordered some drinks to go with our pizza sandwiches, yummy! From there we looped the Palazzo Farnese. I was particularly interested in seeing the building again with new eyes. I had read ‘the agony and the ecstasy’ about the life of Michelangelo and had learned that he had designed the top story of the building. Around back I showed mom the view into the rear gardens of the palazzo and she remembered that the Borromini Perspective was just around the corner (somewhere?). We wandered through a few wrong turns but did find the palazzo Spada and went in to look through a glass window that has a view of the ‘perspective’. You can’t walk it anymore but I did many times as a kid. It is a series of arches, the first full size, the others increasingly smaller. At the end is a statue. Viewed from a distance it looks like a long hallway of arches. If you walk it, it isn’t very long and it turns out that the statue is not much higher than three feet with its pedestal. Very effective. By then, mom was fagged, I took her back to the apartment and we sat around talking away the afternoon. I left near five to start the process of returning to piazza Mazzini where Donna was teaching.

My plan was to cut across to the Corso down which the bus had traveled on the way there. Silly me, I assumed the 628 route would be the same returning as it was going toward the Center. I went out, wandered right into Largo del Palaro and looked up to our old apartment. Last time I’d seen it, it was all closed up, this time it was open, I took a few photo for keepsake. Walking out along the side of San Andrea della Valle, I decided to see if the church was open. The last two trips it had always been closed when I was in that location. Seeing as how it was open, I went in. The interior is huge and very gilded with gold. I think someone famous did something in that church but I didn’t have a guide book with me so I just walked around and looked. I seem to remember that this is the oldest church dome in Rome. I need to look that up.

Out the front, across the street I veered right instead of left, I missed the piazza Navona but in short order realized that I was heading directly towards the Pantheon. OK, the Pantheon is always good but wow, what a crowd! There was literally an army of 13 year old kids all wearing Red hats. I later discerned that they were probably Germanic when I overtook them on the way to the Trevi fountain. The Pantheon was being worked on out front but they had completed the floor restoration they had been working on the last time I had been there. As usual, it was inspiring to stand inside. It was what I had sold to Keith when we had done the house of God in the Kabala Garden of his Valley Center home. Naturally, his was somewhat smaller but the impact was there all the same.

From there onward around the Tassa D’Oro (I was on a schedule, no time to stop for an espresso). All of a sudden I had hit the Corso where I expected to catch the 628 back to piazza Mazzini. I hesitated a second and decided that I had time to go on and see the Fontana di Tervi (never go to Rome without visiting it). The whole piazza was one giant can of sardines (I mean tourists) but the good news is that the fountains were running! I stayed a few minutes. Muscled through the crowds and got a few photos and then off back to the Corso to catch the 628 Bus. Getting there, I ambled up to the bus stop, no 628 on the first, second or third sign. Clearly I had missed something. I went back and checked the three signs again. No 628. I walked across the street to see the bus stop going the other way, OK, 628. Crossed the street again to confirm I wasn’t tripping; no 628. So I did the only logical thing left for me to do. I got on the 628 bus going the wrong direction and rode it back to the Teatro Marcello where I knew the bus was on both sides of the street. Getting off the bus, I crossed and a few minutes later caught the 628 going the way I wanted it to be going. When we got to piazza Venetia instead of going straight down the Coso, it took a left went thru Largo Argentina and right up to San Andrea della Valle (where I had started out) and took a right onto Corso dell Resorgimento and went around the piazza Navona. Go figure, I had just spent most of an hour to end up right back where I started from. Good lesson, that 628 really does go everywhere.

I arrived without further ado at Piazza Mazzini and then proceeded to get thoroughly lost. There were only eight roads leading into the piazza but I couldn’t figure out which one I needed to be on. Problem was that when I got off the bus I bypassed the first street and started examining them all in more detail starting with the second. After fifteen minutes I ended up calling Beatrice to ask directions and even then had a hard time figuring it all out. The rest is history. We met up, returned to Beas’ apartment and then Donna was ready to get her yayays out and go for a walk, I agreed-guess I hadn’t walked enough that day.

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